California regulators reject utilities’ demand for changes in solar net energy metering
In what is being seen as a setback for California’s utility companies, the state regulators have decided a status quo on the system dubbed ‘net energy metering’ that pays solar homeowners for the excess electricity used by them.
The development is being seen as a victory of sorts for the nation’s fast-growing solar industry over the utility companies, which had cited the solar power’s potential impact on their finances.
The utilities had sought imposition of new monthly fee on solar customers claiming the latter were “not paying their fair share to maintain the electric grid”. The argument, however, failed to convince the regulators.
“It clearly rejects the utility proposals to kill the rooftop solar market in California”, said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association.
Chiaro said as the ink on the Paris climate agreement dried, this was where the rubber really met the road in terms of letting consumers choose clean energy.
The California Public Utilities Commission has now proposed minor changes to the net metering rules, thus ruling out any fresh monthly fees, at least for now.
According to the proposal, homeowners who install rooftop solar arrays would have to shell out a one-time charge to get their power connections linked to the grid. The amount would be in the range of $75 to $150, which is around extra $5 per month more than what consumers currently have to pay.
But before the proposal is implemented, it would need the approval of the public utilities commission’s five voting members. The vote is slated for January 28.
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