Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) finally voted on the current state of the net energy metering program for solar owners. As a locally-based solar contractor (and solar owners ourselves!), we’re happy to report the commissioners voted in favor of those who use solar energy.
Net energy metering allows solar owners to sell overproduction back to their utility company. It’s an important benefit that helps people keep their electricity bills low.
Background on AB 327 and Net Energy Metering
This moment of victory for the solar industry is a long time coming. During the past year or so, we’ve been following the outcome of this vote.
Here’s a play-by-play of how it has gone down:
- Senator Perea introduces the AB 327 bill with the help of large utility companies, which threatens to completely eliminate the Net Energy Metering program.
- AB 327 passes the senate floor. Thankfully, some amendments are made that are positive for solar owners. Most importantly, the current net metering program is not eliminated. The bill also demands that the CPUC develop a new net energy metering program (immediately dubbed Net Metering 2.0).
- Mark Ferron steps down from the CPUC for health reasons. In his closing remarks, he stresses the importance of solar energy in California and advises the remaining commissioners to keep the interests of solar owners top of mind.
- Thanks to the hard work of CALSEIA and other solar advocate, CPUC Commissioner Michael Peevey announces a proposal that the current net energy metering program will last 20 years from the time of installation.
Why is this Solar Victory So Sweet?
Now current solar owners (and anyone who installs rooftop solar before July 1, 2017) can rest happily and know that they will enjoy the benefits of net metering for a full 20 years. This victory is sweet as the utility companies were lobbying for a much shorter time period (some say as low as 6-12 years).
Moreover, the CPUC also announced that current Californian solar owners will be eligible for Net Metering 2.0 once their 20 years is up.
Net Metering 2.0 Battle to Come
Though this battle was won, the war isn’t over yet. The details of Net Metering 2.0 still need to be worked out and the CPUC has until the end of 2015 to do so. In the coming year, solar owners and advocates in California will need to rally once again so that the collective solar voice is heard.