Even as more residents are installing solar panels, and Resilient Palisades is trying to establish a Solar Microgrid in Pacific Palisades, the state of California has revealed discouraging news.
Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which governs investor-owned utilities like Southern California Edison and PG&E, will charge solar users.
Although the proposed new rules don’t apply to municipal-owned utilities like LADWP, if these rules are implemented, investor-owned utilities will be able to make rooftop solar more costly.
Circling the News asked Resilient Palisades what the rationale was for charging people who are putting in solar panels.
Ryan Craig, co-lead of the Clean Energy team and a Resilient Palisades co-founder, responded: “Big investor-owned utilities have partnered with unions to lobby for this. The claim is that rooftop solar is inequitable because only wealthy people can afford it, and it leaves the fixed-cost burden of maintaining the grid on less wealthy people.
“But if this were a sincere concern, there are many ways of addressing this without radically reducing the incentive for rooftop solar,” Craig said. “This is a frontal attack on rooftop solar and distributed energy from monopolies and the unions that work for them.
“It’s important to recognize that the CPUC only governs investor-owned utilities like Southern California Edison and PG&E,” he said. “So these proposed new rules don’t apply to municipal-owned utilities like LADWP. But if these rules are implemented, the trend will be clear: utilities will have a green light to make rooftop solar more costly. So, it’s hard to imagine LADWP will be far behind.”
This is what is being proposed by the Public Utilities Commission:
1) to impose a $57 per-month solar penalty fee for putting solar panels on the roof. The more solar panels, the larger the fee. This includes apartment buildings, new homes built with solar per the state mandate, and solar-powered batteries. The fee would be the largest in the U.S.A.
2) implement an 80% cut to the credit solar users get for sharing surplus solar energy with the grid. The credit would drop from an average of twenty-five cents per kilowatt hour to about five cents. “This cut happens immediately; we predict it will end the solar market overnight,” Craig said.
3) the rules would roll back protections for existing solar users. Existing solar users are currently protected from changes to net metering rules for 20 years from the date their system is turned on. The CPUC is now proposing to reduce that protection to 15 years and eliminate the protection altogether if you accept their battery rebate.
Resilient Palisades is asking all residents to call Governor Gavin Newsom to prevent these changes from being finalized by January 27. The changes could go into effect as early as this spring.
“We are asking each one of our members to place an urgent call to Governor Newsom, asking him to stop the implementation of this rule,” RP wrote in an email. “Our calls really can make a difference on this issue. The number is (916) 445-2841. Please ask everyone you know to do the same. We need to flood his office with calls click here.
If you have a social media account, post a message. Here’s a sample:
California should not charge people a monthly penalty fee for putting solar panels on their rooftops. @GavinNewsom we need you to #SaveSolar
Join an in-person protest in either San Francisco or Los Angeles on January 12.