California regulators delay decision on TOU rates for SDG&E

It never looks good when you make material changes to a proposed decision a week before a vote, and without giving a full explanation. As such, many in the solar and environmental community saw red when the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) made changes to the timing of time-of-use (TOU) rates in a proposed decision for utility San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) last week, in advance of a vote scheduled for today.

The solar industry and environmentalists mobilized against this vote, and on August 8 sent a letter to CPUC arguing that the changes to the proposed decision were not in line with CPUC’s own TOU methodology in several areas. This letter was signed by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), California Solar Energy Association (CALSEIA) and Vote Solar, but also two climate and energy non-profits, more than a dozen solar and energy storage companies, and even the Association of California Water Agencies.

The pressure appears to have worked at least in the short term. CPUC took the item off of today’s agenda for “further review”, with plans to revisit the issue on the 24th.

It is far from clear what CPUC’s ultimate decision will be. “There is hope that reason will prevail and the Commission will be consistent with its earlier decision,” CALSEIA Policy Director Brad Heavner told pv magazine.

Either way, this decision is being closely watched in California and beyond for the potential precedent it could lend to other TOU rates, which as part of Net Metering 2.0 are now mandatory for customers who install new PV systems in the service areas of the state’s three large utilities.