Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) submitted a new plan earlier this month to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that proposes new rules allowing new solar customers to be able to achieve significant reductions to typical electric bills. The plan hopes to begin the process of creating a more sustainable approach that is necessary to support long-term growth of solar, battery storage, electric vehicles, home automation, and other advanced technologies.
As part of its decades-long commitment to solar, PG&E is also advocating that the State of California should count rooftop solar toward the state’s ambitious new renewable energy targets as another way to help ensure the continued growth of rooftop solar.
“Solar is an essential part of our clean energy future. We need smart energy reform to sustain its long-term growth in California,” said PG&E Chairman and CEO Tony Earley. “Solar is too important to our energy future not to get right. Working together, we can craft the right rate reform that will help solar grow and help build the smart energy future our customers want and deserve.”
California Solar Energy Reform
PG&E’s smart energy reform proposal includes a small usage-based demand charge and new compensation for the amount solar customers are credited when they deliver power back to the grid. They state that this method better reflects the value of that power to other customers who will use it. Solar customers would still realize savings of more than 50 percent on their monthly bill. The estimated net impact of the changes proposed by PG&E would be about $20 monthly for a typical prospective solar customer planning to install a 3.7 kilowatt solar system.
Bills for existing solar customers and customers who do not generate solar power would not be affected by the proposed plan. One change that would be noticed, however, is that bills for solar customers would be reconciled monthly, replacing the current annual true-ups.
To make solar energy more accessible for certain income-qualified customers on the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program in disadvantaged communities, PG&E has included in its proposal their Solar CARE pilot, which would involve a 100 percent renewable usage option sourced from local solar projects. There would be no charge for this service, and no change to customers’ existing regular discounted energy rate.