Update on Net Metering in California

CALSEIA and other solar orgs rallied support from Californians, which potentially influenced a recent decision on net metering.

During the past year, our company has been following AB 327, a bill that may affect current and future solar owners. Last time we checked in, AB 327 had just been passed and left the fate of the net energy metering program in the hands of the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission).

[Editor’s Note: For those who don’t know, net metering is when a solar customer is able to sell back overproduction to the utility company at the same rate that you buy it back at night.]

CPUC Comes to a Compromise

In the past couple months, there has been a lot of movement surrounding the “grandfathering period” for current solar owners who are already enrolled in a net metering program.

First, the utility companies lobbied for short term net metering contracts that would only last 10-15 years. However, CALSEIA and other solar advocacy organizations were successful in getting 50,000 Californian signatures for a petition that demanded a 30 year grandfathering period.

As announced earlier this week by Commissioner Michael Peevey, the CPUC decided that a compromise of 20 years would make the most sense. They primarily based their proposal on the lifetime of a solar array.  While most solar systems can last up to 25-30 years, they are expected to function for a minimum of 20 years. It was also kept in mind that most solar leasing agreements are 20 years long.

The commissioners are scheduled to vote on this proposal in late March to make the decision official.

Importance of California’s Solar Decision

Though the solar industry was fighting for 30 years, most experts observe that the CPUC was fair in proposing 20 years. This period still gives current solar owners plenty of time to take advantage of the benefits of net energy metering.

Currently, net energy metering is being debated in 25 states including two of California’s neighbors: Arizona and Oregon. Our hope is that California’s decision has a positive effect on heated debates across the country and a fair approach is adopted.

The CPUC still has to make many decisions on “Net Metering 2.0”, the program for future solar owners who buy a system on July 1, 2017 or beyond.