Net Metering, San Diego, and the Demise of Monopolistic Energy
For more than a century, utility companies have enjoyed a pretty sweet deal.  They’ve monopolized the power industry, charging ever-increasing rates for residential and commercial power.

And there wasn’t anything the rest of us could do about it.  If we wanted our lights to come on and our homes to stay warm, we had to cough up whatever money the power companies demanded of us.

Electricity isn’t just a monopoly.  It’s an inelastic good like water or health care.

No matter the cost, we must pay.

And pay we have.  In 2013 alone, some San Diego residents faced 40% price hikes from SDG&E.  The lucky ones only had to pay 12% more.

But the tide is turning.  And established monopolies are scrambling to save their dying empires.

Why Net Metering Has San Diego Utilities Shaking in Their Boots

Why are the utility companies so worried all of a sudden?  Simple.

They’re scared to death of sunshine.

You see, in the past decade, more and more homeowners and businesses across the country have begun to embrace solar energy.  Free, unregulated electricity that literally falls down from the heavens.  Infinite.  Clean.  And it belongs to no one (or everyone – depending on your perspective).

As a result, fewer and fewer homeowners and businesses are relying on the traditional electricity network to power their homes.

Some solar customers reduce their bills by 10%.  Others reduce their bills by 100%.  And still others receive credits from the utility company because their solar panels produce too much power.

You heard correctly.  SDG&E owes some customers instead of the reverse.

How is this even possible?

Net Metering + San Diego Sunshine

We’ve talked extensively about net metering in the past.  Check out some of these articles:

But it looks like the fight is only starting to heat up – and spread.

All over the world, utility companies are trying to stop solar power, net metering, and energy independence.  In Spain, Australia, and the US, they’re already slapping on flat fees in addition to monthly usage charges.  Right here in San Diego, the utility companies lobbied for a $65 flat fee per month.

What?

In short, they want to tax solar customers for helping the environment and reducing their dependence on the grid.

The utility companies claim they’re doing this for maintenance reasons, but the logic doesn’t really follow:

  • When there are too many customers, the utility companies want to charge extra “maintenance” fees
  • When there are too few customers (due to solar’s popularity), they also want to charge extra “maintenance” fees

No matter.  For the time being, net metering in San Diego will remain active and strong.  But it won’t last forever.  So if you’re thinking about installing panels on your home or business, now is the time to act.

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