Going Solar in San Diego to Become More Expensive, Part 1

Lisa Halverstadt of the Voice of San Diego offers one of the most succinct descriptions of California’s net metering program.

“Your relationship with San Diego Gas & Electric changes when you get solar panels. The utility starts buying power from you, too.”

She goes on to add that SDG&E pays full retail rates for the solar electricity that you feed into the grid. So you can use your photovoltaic (PV) panels to cover your own needs and receive utility credits for any of the solar power that you don’t use.

With this highly successful solar incentive, it’s possible to greatly reduce (if not eliminate) your monthly electricity bill. You don’t even need a large solar installation to achieve this. Simple energy efficiency improvements can allow your solar installation to deliver $0 or negative utility bills.

This is why the Advanced Energy Economy Institute has cited California’s net metering program as the “single most important policy in the state for encouraging solar development.” Similar incentives have helped states like New Jersey, New York, and Arizona achieve unbelievable solar success.

But in California, at least, all this is about to change.

Why Going Solar in San Diego Could End up Costing You More

The state’s net metering program has a flexible expiration date. Once rooftop solar capacity reaches 5% of San Diego’s peak electricity demand, net metering will end. As of April 2015, we were more than 66% of the way there. And we could hit the 5% threshold within the coming year. Some experts predict that the program might end in the next few months (i.e. the summer).

  • Those who go solar before the expiration date get grandfathered into the program. And they can continue to sell their excess power at retail rates – for the next 20 years.
  • Those who miss the deadline, however, miss out on net metering forever. They won’t be able to monetize their solar power. And they won’t be able to completely eliminate their utility bills – unless they invest in on-site solar battery storage.

Could Net Metering Receive an Extension?

California could extend the net metering program. In fact, state regulators are already looking into the long-term ramifications of this decision. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is currently studying the value, costs, and benefits of rooftop solar. Unfortunately, their modeling hasn’t yielded any firm results.

Not surprisingly, utility companies are lobbying hard to kill the program. Having to compensate solar customers cuts directly into their monopolistic business models. According to the Washington Examiner, California utilities are not unique in their dislike of net metering. Power companies in roughly 20 states across the country are desperately trying to kill their own versions of net metering.

What does this all mean for you?

The main takeaway is pretty clear. You don’t have much time. The longer you delay your solar purchase, the more money you’ll end up spending.

Let us help you go solar today so you can enjoy the highest possible savings for the next 20 years. As an added benefit, you can also shrink your carbon footprint and play a critical role in fighting climate change.

Request a fair and honest quote today.

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