The US state of California has approved a policy that grants financial credit to solar customers who supply electricity to the grid.The state regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a policy, as the result of a three-to-two vote, under its solar net metering policy.
Reuters report that net metering, which has been in place for 20 years in California, has been key to making clean power affordable.
The policy allows homeowners that have solar panels to continue selling excess power back to the grid at the full electricity retail rate.
[quote] Bernadette Del Chiaro with the California Solar Energy Industries Association said: “What the Commission basically did with this decision was reject the idea that solar customers aren’t paying their fair share and instead said there are some small charges that they should begin to pay like helping low-income assistance programmes.”
The New York Times states that solar enthusiasts and installers should be able to retain the retail rates due to the power they generate – viewed to assist lowering strain on the grid when electricity demand is at its peak.
Utilities and solar industry dispute rates
Ratepayers and some utilities view the policy decision as a knock to electricity sales and decrease in recouping some of the infrastructure costs that are bundled in retail rates.
Some are also of the opinion that solar customers cause an undue burden on non-solar customers, who are depended upon to must make up shortfalls.
The New York Times adds that in the state of California, regulators have sided mainly with the solar industry and have “generally rejected proposals” to reduce the net-metering credit and put in additional charges for solar customers.
Representative from other California utilities have commented publicly on the matter. Pedro Pizarro, president of Southern California Edison, “This decision puts the burden of subsidizing solar on low-income customers who can least afford it, and SCE believes that policy is unwise and unfair.”
He added: “the California Public Utilities Commission ignored state law and the clear direction from the state Legislature, which called for them to reform net energy metering to ensure the benefits are balanced with the costs of the program.”
However, Michael Picker, the utility commission president, told the Times: “Our course is not for the rooftop solar industry or for the utilities or the community clean energy aggregators. Our decision today is another big step toward giving California consumers more choice, more control and more responsibility over energy and climate change issues.”