Rate changes to reduce benefits of rooftop solar

It will get a little harder soon for rooftop solar households to “zero out” their utility bills and avoid standard charges, under rate changes adopted last week by the California Public Utilities Commission.

The commission authorized San Diego Gas & Electric to double its minimum charge on monthly residential utility bills to $10. The change will be phased in starting in November and eventually rise beyond $10 to offset inflation.

The majority of customers pay at least that much for electricity and won’t see any difference unless they shut off the power during an extended vacation.

A small portion of rooftop solar households, however, are accustomed to offsetting their entire electric bill with solar energy. Households that produce their own electricity under the state’s “net metering” provisions can offset their power use at the full retail rate, effectively winding the electric meter back to zero.

“They don’t get the minimum charges back if they overproduce electricity,” said Brad Heavner, policy director for the California Solar Energy Industries Association.

SDG&E spokeswoman Amber Albrecht said solar customers can still offset utility charges entirely by producing surplus solar electricity that is sold back to the utility at about 4 cents a kilowatt hour.

The utility does not gain additional revenue from the minimum charge because other customers are billed less as a result.

Solar customers in San Diego have the option of paying their electric bill once a year, according to a preliminary estimate by SDG&E.

As a result of bill changes, about 1,000 additional solar households in the San Diego region will have minimum bill charges to pay at the end of each year, according to a preliminary estimate by SDG&E.

read more at: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/jul/07/solar-benefits-dwindle/

disclaimer: for information and entertainment purposes only

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