In the US, investor-owned utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has submitted a proposal to regulator California Public Utilities Commission for new smart energy rules.
In its proposal, PG&E suggested that a small usage-based demand charge be implemented and new compensation for the amount solar customers are credited when they feed power back into the grid.
Under this plan, the utility projects that solar customers can achieve savings of more than 50% on their monthly bill. It adds that the net impact of the changes proposed would be about US$20 per month for a typical prospective solar customer planning to install a 3.7 kilowatt solar system.
Existing PG&E solar customers will continue receiving their normal bills, as will customers in non-PV households.
According to PV Magazine, the PG&E proposal suggests that solar customers have their bills reconciled monthly, replacing annual balances, to improve control over ongoing energy costs.
Smart energy reform
The regulatory authority that oversees the activities of privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water and transit companies, decided to update its standards for the first time in 1996.
The CPUC invited the solar industry, utilities and other stakeholders to draw up proposals on how rooftop PV can be further supported over the long-term.
PG&E in its proposal, added that support and encouragement of solar generated power will contribute towards renewable energy goals and that there is potential for CPUC to retain "very significant incentives" for solar and thereafter assess rates again in three years or less.
The California utility said that its SolarCARE pilot programme, will be offered in more disadvantaged communities, where home owners will be provided with the apparatus needed for to benefit from PG&E’s smart energy reform.