California regulators deny challenges to net metering

Utilities across the United States have done their best to dismantle the net metering policies which underly the growth of distributed solar in the United States. However, to date these efforts have usually not produced the results which utilities have sought.

This is particularly true of California, and was established again today when the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a resolution which denies multiple challenges to the state’s new net metering program.

CPUC approved the “net metering 2.0” program in January, which will take effect for customers of the state’s three large investor-owned utilities by July 2017, with the new program already in effect in the territory of San Diego Gas & Electric Company.

Net metering 2.0 imposes non-bypassable charges on PV system owners and implements mandatory time-of-use rates for residential customers, but retains the basic features of net metering. In California as elsewhere utilities had fought hard for larger changes to the program, but in the end most of their proposals were defeated.

Following the January ruling PG&E challenged the decision as a whole, while SCE & SDG&E challenged certain aspects. Additionally, a ratepayer advocacy group and coalition of utility unions also challenged certain parts of the ruling.

“This was a frivolous legal maneuver by utilities, paid for by ratepayers, and the Commission has put an end to it,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association.

CALSEIA notes that utilities still have the option to appeal to state courts, but says that the odds of success are “extremely low”.