Sullivan Solar net metering installation

California: CPUC Rules that Existing Solar Arrays are Grandfathered in

By Roy L Hales

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has ruled that existing rooftop solar arrays can keep selling electricity to the grid at current rates for 20 years.

This applies to all customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and Southern California Edison Company.

The CPUC’s decision was unanimous and in line with what Governor Jerry Brown intended, when he signed Assembly Bill 327 into law.

At that time, Governor Brown wrote, “As the CPUC considers rules regarding grandfathering of net meter customers, I expect the Commission to ensure that customers who took service under net metering prior to reaching the statutory net metering cap on or before July 1, 2017, are protected under those rules for the expected life of their systems.”

The rules for California’s next Net Metering Policy (NEM 2.0) have not yet been decided upon, but must be finalized by December 2015.

“There will be an unprecedented surge of demand for solar power after today’s hearing, so it’s impossible to predict when the  cap will be hit,” said Daniel Sullivan, president and founder of Sullivan Solar Power, “It is clearly in the best interest for property owners to go solar now, locking in 20 years of protections.”

“At Baker Electric Solar we’re pleased with the CPUC recent ruling that ensures that existing solar customers are guaranteed the current net energy metering (NEM 1.0) benefits,” said Keith Randhahn, Operations Manager at Baker Electric Solar. “Establishing a grandfathering deadline will also motivate homeowners who haven’t yet considered going solar to step up and investigate the advantages of becoming a renewable energy producer sooner than later.

“We fully support CALSEIA’s efforts to work with the CPUC as NEM 2.0 is developed and hope it will provide similar guarantees to the next generation of solar adopters. The new definition of net metering should be based on the entire value chain associated with solar power adoption.  Solar benefits extend beyond the cost savings for the consumer and the benefit to the utility of distributed grid power. Value can be given to the less tangible environmental benefits as well as the economic benefits of job creation.”

“This is good news for existing customers and those signing through 2016,” said  Martin Learn of Home Energy Systems. “Commissioner Peavey did not bow to other commissioners who wanted to reduce the grandfathering period.  The vote was ultimately 4/0, because newly appointed commissioner Picker was in Germany and was able to remain off the record on this.  Future votes on even more important points may or may not go the way of the solar industry.  Stay tuned, and express your opinion by letters, faxes, emails, and petitions, even in person in San Francisco or Sacramento.

“Utilities believe they are going to win the war even if we win a battle or two. They have plenty of experience influencing lawmakers and regulators.”

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