The incentive allows solar panel owners to sell excess clean energy back to the utility grid at market rates.
Because many homeowners and businesses throughout Oceanside, Chula Vista, and San Marcos sell more electricity (from their panels) than they consume (from the power grid), they end up with negative or $0 utility bills every month.
But despite the overwhelming success of the net metering program, utility companies claim that they’re not adequately compensated for ensuring that the power grid can safely accommodate all of this extra solar capacity. They want to restructure the rate system accordingly.
Solar advocates are fighting back, arguing that added solar capacity actually makes the utilities’ job easier. Solar panels operate at peak performance during times when utility companies are often stretched to the limit (i.e. noon). Each new residential and commercial solar installation actually reduces the amount of base load power that utility companies need to bring online.
After weeks of negotiations, the legislation surrounding this debate (Assembly Bill 327 (AB 327)) is finally awaiting Governor Brown’s signature.
But what does AB 327 actually include?
How AB 327 Will Affect Solar in San Diego – Still Unclear
The details surrounding AB 327 are still a bit murky. But based on preliminary reports, the final resolution will do 1 or all of the following:
1. Utility companies throughout California are required to purchase a set amount of renewable energy from a variety of sources. Currently, that amount is capped. If AB 327 is approved, this cap could be removed, provided certain “unknown” criteria are met.
2. Utilities may be allowed to begin charging different electricity rates to different customers. How much this affects solar customers and net metering remains to be seen. It could have zero effect – but it could also dramatically reduce the financial incentives that prompt many San Diego homeowners and businesses to go solar.
3. As part of its long-term renewable portfolio standard (RPS), California has pledged to generate as much as 33% of its energy from clean power sources by 2020. The state’s Public Utilities Commission could increase this RPS, requiring California to generate an even larger portion of its power supply from renewable energy.
So Should You Go Solar in San Diego?
Although the future of net metering remains unclear, the future of solar energy seems pretty stable.
Even in the absence of attractive government incentives, the financial and environmental benefits of going solar are overwhelming – especially as utilities like SDG&E continue raising their rates year after year.
If you’re curious about whether solar makes sense for you and your property, contact us today for a free on-site evaluation.