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Finance LifeStyles

Save Your Solar Investment

In December, the governor appointed California Public Utilities Commission released a controversial proposal that would create dramatic changes for 1.3 million rooftop solar consumers.

A few of proposed changes within the “Net Energy Metering” (NEM) tariffs:

  • Retroactively reducing the amount of time solar customers stay on their net metering rate from 20 years to 15 years. Meaning if you purchased solar 10 years ago, these changes could go into effect in 5 years.
  • Changing the rate solar customers are paid in credits when sending power back to the grid, from the retail rate to “actual avoided cost” which is a significantly lower amount.
  • Enacting a “grid participation charge” of $8 per kilowatt – amounting to an approximately $40-$48 monthly fee for SDG&E customers.

Energy research firm Wood Mackenzie reports that these changes would increase the payback period for a residential solar system from 5-6 years to 14-15 years making solar a prohibitively unaffordable investment.  Wood Mackenzie estimates that these changes could cut the solar market in half by 2024, having major implications for the entire industry and especially California consumers.

The backlash to these proposals have led to the commission pushing back the date of their decision, initially to be made on January 27, then February 10, and now put off “until further notice”.  This proposal, seen by many as the state giving in the demands of PG&E, SDG&E, and SoCal Edison, is beyond frustrating for San Diego residents already paying the highest energy rates in the COUNTRY, as reported by CBS 8.

In a New York Times opinion piece, former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote that the proposal should be “stopped in its tracks.”  In his piece Schwarzenegger opines, “California should do more to incentivize clean energy in lower-income areas. And the state should be promoting the installation of a million batteries to store the energy that the solar panels capture. That’s how we can truly democratize energy. But adding a tax and removing incentives will hurt the solar market, and making solar more expensive for everyone does nothing to help our most vulnerable.”

To make your voice and opposition to this proposal heard, you can contact the Governor’s office through: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/ or write, phone or fax:

Gavin Newsom – CA Governor 

1021 O Street, Suite 9000

Sacramento, CA 95814

ph (916) 445-2841

Fx (916) 558-3160

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