Some San Diego residents and businesses choose to amplify these benefits by installing on-site battery storage. Doing so allows them to reduce their reliance on utility companies even more. And they enjoy added protection in the event of grid power failures (which are relatively common).
But now, California’s 3 biggest utilities are trying to attach new rules and rates for solar customers who choose to store clean energy on-site.
Let’s explore the rationale behind this push against solar batteries.
Why San Diego Utilities Don’t Like Solar Batteries
Under San Diego’s net metering program, solar customers are allowed to sell excess clean energy into the grid at a profit. This excess solar electricity is fed into the grid at the time of its creation.
But with on-site battery storage, it is now possible for customers to “game” the system and feed non-renewable energy into the grid. In other words, customers could theoretically:
- buy electricity from the grid at night (when prices are lower)
- store this energy in their batteries for several hours
- sell this electricity back to the grid during the day (when prices are higher)
It’s an interesting concept. But to date, we haven’t heard any verified reports of this happening – despite the fact that solar battery ownership is rapidly expanding (thanks to falling prices).
And based on our experiences at Sunline Energy, solar customers are honest, hardworking people who simply want to protect the environment and lower their monthly electricity bills.
Fraud is relatively rare. So rare, in fact, that solar customers often receive better home insurance premiums since they’re considered more “responsible.”
However, the relative lack of evidence to support these outlandish claims isn’t stopping utilities. Already, Southern California Edison and PG&E have started rejecting net metering applications from solar customers who also have batteries.
And according to SDG&E spokeswoman, Stephanie Donovan, “Technically, a customer who now has a combined system that includes both rooftop solar panels and battery storage, the battery storage may not qualify for net energy metering under current rules.”
What San Diego’s Solar Battery Battle Means for You
If you’re like most San Diego solar power customers, this issue probably won’t affect you. The majority of solar businesses and homeowners don’t have on-site battery storage.
But if you’re thinking about installing solar batteries on your property, make sure you have an in-depth conversation with your contractor. Depending on your long-term energy goals, you may want to either:
- Delay purchasing any on-site storage until the solar battery battle is finished. The rules are still in flux.
- Purchase enough on-site storage capacity so that you can completely opt-out of the utility grid altogether. Keep in mind that this option can get fairly expensive.
For more information about net metering, solar batteries, or solar installations, contact us today for a free consultation.