On December 15, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted unanimously to approve the state’s next phase of the net-metering program. The new “net-billing” program will decrease the incentives paid for excess solar generation by an average of 75%, according to the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA). The process has taken over a year and resulted in numerous proposed decisions. CALSSA spent time and resources to push back against some of the most harmful aspects of previous iterations.
“Solar advocates are proud we were able to fight back against the most egregious attacks on rooftop solar the CPUC included in earlier proposed changes to net metering. We stopped a discriminatory solar tax and protected current solar users from a broken deal,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of CALSSA.
“Still, the changes to net metering approved by the CPUC are a step backwards when we really need to be moving forward with solar and battery storage. It is a dark day in California when the utility regulators try to block out the sun. The solar movement will continue looking for ways to keep rooftop solar growing and affordable in California despite this setback,” she continued.
The Center for Biological Diversity, Environment California and Environmental Working Group all condemned the new decision in press statements.
“What the CPUC did today is a disgrace and a disservice not only to Californians, but to the nation,” said EWG president and Bay Area resident Ken Cook. “The commission’s decision will hammer the residential solar market in California and undercut Gov. Newsom’s pledge to be the nation’s leader in building a 100% clean energy grid.”
The new net-billing structure features base hourly export compensation rates with a different 24-hour profile for each month and for weekends vs. weekdays. These also vary by utility, but all three average out to be around 3¢/kWh, down from 30¢/kWh on average, according to CALSSA.
The CPUC has emphasized that a primary goal of the new program is to encourage more people to pair solar with storage to dispatch solar to the grid when it needs the power most. But CALSSA believes these changes are not nearly comprehensive enough to support the growth of an entirely new industry.
“Nobody should have to open up this [Avoided Cost Calculator] chart each day and see if they should reprogram their battery. We’re not there yet. This is the whole idea of the [glide path],” Del Chiaro said.
Now starts the countdown to Net Metering 2.0 sunset. The commission will implement this sunset within 120 days, but customers that complete an interconnection application before that period will remain under NEM 2.0.