State utilities commission plans rate hike for solar customers

Apr 27, 2016 12:43 PM by News Staff

The California Public Utilities Commission held a forum in Chico Tuesday night giving PG&E customers a chance to find out the details of a new rate structure.

One of the changes discussed was hiking the cost for those who install or have solar systems, a plan that is charging up residents who thought they were helping the environment while saving money.

Alternative Energy Systems has been installing solar panels for residents and businesses since 2004. And until now, every one of their customers has received full credit from PG&E for the power they generated.

"The way the economics works, it's much more affordable to go solar than to stay a straight PG&E customer," said Jason Grant, director of sales at Alternative Energy Systems.

Every few years... PG&E petitions the CPUC to change rates in order to keep up with costs and the updated "net energy metering" rate will lower the credit for new solar installations, but not for those who already have solar.

“Nem 2.0 doesn't affect them unless they increase their system size or substantially make changes to their system," Grant said.

According to Alternative Energy Systems, certain charges will no longer be credited amounting to an estimated 2 or 3 cents per kilowatt hour, a relatively modest amount, and one that grant said still makes solar the way to go.

"Even though there are changes in the works, there's never been a better time to go solar, and if you're sitting on the fence all you're doing is losing money," he said.

Grant also said although their rates aren't changing, he hopes regulars can see the issued from the see current solar customer’s perspective.

"When people go up and support solar there it helps protect the solar industry from all the lobbyist that utilities have that are lobbying against the solar industry," he said.

As demand for solar continues to grow, installers said new customers still have plenty of incentive to put in a system that will power their home for the next 20 years.

“They get to lock themselves in to a long-term commitment from PG&E that they're not going to change the rules on them."


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