It happened faster than many expected. The utility which serves the bulk of Northern and Central California announced late yesterday that it would transition to Net Metering 2.0 as of this morning. This comes less than a week after Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) announced that it would hit caps on the previous program some time this month.
Despite this quick movement, California Solar Energy Industries Association (CalSEIA) describes the transition to the new program as “smooth”. “The lead-up to the transition has been smooth,” said CALSEIA Policy Director Brad Heavner. “There was not a big surge in interconnections as PG&E approached the cap, so the transition did not come suddenly and catch customers off guard.”
Per the cap set by California regulators, PG&E approved 2.41 GW of distributed solar PV systems under the previous net metering arrangement.
While superficially similar to the previous net metering program, Net Metering 2.0 will involve a one-time application fee of $145 for PG&E customers, as well as imposing “non-bypassable” fees which reduce the value of solar exported to the grid by around $0.02 per kilowatt-hour.
Additionally, under the new program residential customers who install PV will need to switch to one of three time-of-use plans. Due to the increasing amount of PV on the grid, this is expected to result in lower rates and thus net metering credit levels during the middle of the day when PV generation is at its peak.
CalSEIA says that the overall impact of these changes will be around $10 per month for most customers. “The industry should be prepared for some hesitation in the market as the new tariff sinks in, but I expect it to be short-lived because NEM-2 continues to offer substantial value to most customers,” stated Heavner.
Customers who completed interconnection requests by midnight on December 15 and those that have already installed PV under the previous net metering rules will be eligible under the original net metering program for 20 years.
San Diego Gas & Electric Company transitioned to net metering 2.0 this summer, however CalSEIA does not expect Southern California Edison (SCE), which serves much of the Los Angeles Basin and Southern California, to reach its caps before the law mandates the switch to Net Metering 2.0 on July 1, 2017.