San Diego Gas & Electric last week shared its progress connecting customers with rooftop solar in a California Public Utilities Commission-hosted public workshop on the Net Energy Metering program. Employee-driven technology innovations and continuous improvements have empowered customers to install solar faster, with less hassle and for less money. The result: SDG&E customers are on track to fill up the available room in the existing solar rooftop program by summer 2016.
Over the last decade SDG&E has worked aggressively to increase the amount of renewable energy used by San Diego and southern Orange County homes and businesses. Today, the company is the only utility in California to deliver 33 percent of its energy primarily from wind and solar.
Established by state law more than 20 years ago to jumpstart the rooftop solar industry, economic incentives were developed for California's electric customers who install certain clean energy technologies.
A limit for how much electricity is generated within the program rules was also established with the intent to change or dissolve the program once the limit is reached. Regardless of what happens once the limit is met, state law mandates that rules in place for current customers with rooftop solar will remain in place for 20 years from the date the customer's solar panels were connected to the power grid.
Customers and solar installers can view daily progress updates on connecting customers' solar rooftops, wind and fuel cells to the power grid by visiting SDGE.com and selecting "NEM Cap Remaining."
CPUC to develop new program rules before the limit is reached –
Ending growing costs at the center of SDG&E's proposal
The cost of living continues to rise in San Diego and southern Orange County, and unnecessary costs being added to customer bills are threatening the livelihood of hardworking families.
Today, families without solar panels— nearly 95 percent of SDG&E's customers—pay an extra $100 per year to support the current program. If the current program structure and subsidies continue, these same families without solar panels are forecasted to pay an extra $360 on their utility bill annually by 2025.
With the CPUC now working to make a timely decision on the future structure of the program–one that should balance the interests of all customers-–SDG&E remains committed to building support for a new policy that recognizes two key considerations:
- That non-solar customers should not be burdened with additional costs to support the program; and
- The new program rules need to ensure that new solar customers pay for their use of the grid.
There is a misperception that customers installing solar panels are "going off the grid." In fact, all customers continue to use the grid, especially at night and when the sun is not shining.
"Our customers are seeking choices that must be delivered by a modern electric grid, and SDG&E has made significant investments to turn the grid into an innovative platform for integrating and maximizing all clean energy technologies," said Winn. "These investments are necessary and will continue as our customers connect solar panels, electric vehicles and eventually energy storage to the power grid. The structure needs to align with these clean energy investments to fuel future innovation and create an affordable clean energy future. This is why getting the program rules right is so important."