SD to hit net metering cap – higher elec rates for solar customers


SDG&E will likely surpass its cap on the number of rooftop solar systems that can sell electricity back to the utility in just a matter of days — well before any other utility in the state.

“It’s an indication that more San Diegans are choosing to go solar so that they have a choice as far as what they pay for electricity as opposed to being beholden to a monopoly,” said Daniel Sullivan, CEO of Sullivan Solar Power.

But blowing past the cap also means that homeowners and others who want to use net metering — the billing mechanism in which utilities pay rooftop solar customers for the excess electricity their systems send back to the grid — are going to have to pay a little bit more.

Under rules set by the California Public Utilities Commission, once net metering at the state’s three investor-owned utilities exceeds 5 percent of peak customer demand, a “successor tariff” goes into effect for new customers.

As of Friday afternoon, San Diego Gas & Electric was just 8.2 megawatts shy of hitting its 5 percent cap. That translates into about 1,250 typical residential rooftop systems needed to reach SDG&E’s cap, according to state figures.

Once the cap is reached, those who want to use net metering will have to:

*pay a one-time interconnection fee that is estimated to cost between $75 and $150

*pay an estimated 2 cents to 3 cents per kilowatt hour for all of what is called “non-bypassable charges” for the electricity their buildings consume from the grid. The charges will help pay for low-income and efficiency programs, and

*go on a “time-of-use” rate instead of the flat rate paid by most residential consumers each month.

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