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Hearings Begin Today on Rooftop Solar Power Rates

The state Public Utilities Commission is holding hearings for solar power compensation. Credit: Solarenergy.org.
The state Public Utilities Commission is holding hearings for solar power compensation. Credit: Solarenergy.org.
October 5, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO – The big three California utility companies are going before the Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco today to argue for changes in the way people with rooftop solar are compensated for the energy they feed back into the grid.

Right now under the net metering program, solar owners are credited at the same rate the utilities charge. Evan Gillespie with the Sierra Club says the changes the utilities want would take away the savings that lead people to install roof top solar.

"If the utilities succeed in making these changes, only the very, very rich are going to be able to afford solar going forward," says Gillespie. "That's a big problem because it's also taking away one of the single greatest tools that we have to fight climate change and clean up our air."

San Diego Gas and Electric, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Edison would like to cut compensation to homeowners by about half, and charge higher connection fees, arguing that solar owners don't contribute enough to the upkeep of the grid.

The Public Utilities Commission has until the end of the year to make a decision.

Gillespie says the utilities' argument doesn't hold up because solar generators reduce the demand for power from dirtier, more expensive sources and improve grid reliability.

"It's a nice story that they have yet to demonstrate data to back up," he says. "We just made significant changes to how customers pay their bills. Going forward every Californian is gooing to pay about $10 a month on their bill to cover these types of infrastructure charges."

The Sierra Club will hold rallies on this subject over the next three weeks in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA