22 California legislators call on regulators to maintain net metering


A bipartisan group of 22 California legislators, including both Senators and Assemblymembers, have sent a public letter to Alice Reynolds, Chair of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), asking that the Commission to reject the proposed decision issued on December 13, 2021, and to keep solar growing, affordable, and in line with California’s clean energy goals.

The letter focuses on the proposed decision’s monthly fee on residential solar customers, with the legislators saying such a fee could “significantly depress the clean energy market, and negatively impact a California-based businesses supporting a sizable number of jobs statewide.”

The letter also takes issue with the proposed lower export credit, with the legislators warning that such a drastic reduction could make it much harder to finance of new multi-family housing projects, reducing new construction of much needed affordable housing. The legislators even go so far as to agree on the need for a somewhat lowered export credit, but not one so drastic as the proposed decision.

The idea that lower export credits and monthly fees would increase difficulty in developing multi-family housing projects comes from the state’s 2020 mandate requiring new homes to have a solar system. By lowering export credits and instituting monthly fees, project payback periods would be greatly increased in a way that the legislators described as discriminatory toward the individuals and families who themselves are making an effort to help the state meet its renewable energy goals.

“It is not reasonable to apply a monthly charge, in this case $684 per year, to only a subset of ratepayers when changes to the net metering export credit these ratepayers receive could accommodate the CPUCs objective,” the letter reads. “We urge avoiding discriminatory fees solely aimed at solar and solar plus storage customers.”

In February, SolarReviews, a residential solar informational site, interviewed about 4,000 active solar shoppers in the state, and showed them what their solar savings potential looked like under the assumptions of NEM 3.0. The results were nothing short of damning for California rooftop solar, as 95% responded they would no longer purchase under the cost assumptions. In many cases payback periods were increased to as much as 20 years, a wait many viewed as unreasonable and too risky.

The CPUC was originally set to vote on the proposal on January 27, but decided to delay any decision on the much-maligned proposal indefinitely.

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