PG&E, utilities appeal solar-credits decision

California’s public utilities are going down swinging in their fight against extended solar credits.

The state’s three investor-owned utilities filed appeals with the California Public Utilities Commission on Monday, seeking to reverse regulators’ January decision that extended credits for new solar customers.

PG&E is seeking to vacate the ruling. A spokesman for the company said the commission failed to consider the costs to traditional, non-solar customers. PG&E estimates the solar credits will increase the average residential users monthly bill by $50 in the year 2025.

Solar advocates cried foul. The PUC decision already took 22 months — extended a month past the deadline — and included the review of “mountains of filing,” an industry group said. Overturning the decision would prevent customers in the PG&E service area from installing solar later this year, according to the California Solar Energy Industries Association.

“Rather than working in partnership with solar companies and striving to reduce costs for customers, utilities would prefer to be obstructionists and muck up the market,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, the association’s executive director.

A PG&E spokesman said in an email that the utility supports continued growth of rooftop solar, but feels rates are tipped too far in the favor of solar customers.

PUC commissioners decided in a 3-2 vote to extend credits for solar customers selling their excess power back to the grid. The new rules impose a one-time connection fee of between $75 and $150 for new solar customers.

The PUC decision highlighted the friction between utilities and the solar industry over pricing. Nevada regulators rolled back the so-called “net metering” provisions in December, causing local companies Solar City and Sunrun to pull out of the state. Solar companies and consumers are battling in court.

Photo: Bay Area News Group file


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  • yadecin

    Its clear Obama did not discuss solar with the utility companies of this nation. Electric companies are trying to derail the solar energy and capitalize on consumers who made the switch. Electric companies across the nation are charging fees for solar users, want to pay less for the electricity that is returned, and wants to put the cost of getting cheaper or free electricity not only to solar users but to all consumers. Its time to rein these electric companies in. NV Energy chased Solar City out of the state because they made solar too expense to have. I believe that consumer should be able to get off the grid and use what ever means for their electric needs. Electric companies think they own the grid, but in actuality the consumers own the grid because they pay for it.

  • Matt

    The utilities are trying to establish that they have a “right” to a certain level of profits. As a regulated utility, we have largely allowed them a right to a certain percentage of profit, but they are seeing the potential that the whole pie (from which they get their percentage) may shrink in the future, and they want to legislate away that possibility. Their goal is to make all solar and wind have to go through the utility in order to be legal, so they get their cut.