California solar owners: your fellow solar users in Massachusetts just dodged a bullet. Take notes because utilities will be back in California with the same nonsense soon enough. The more prepared we are, the better.
At issue: a MA utility tried to get state lawmakers to hit solar users an extra fee just for going solar (see Energy News Network). They failed, but only in the last hours of a massive pushback by solar advocates (Solar WakeUp summary). The utility claimed the fee is needed because solar users are not paying their fair share of the costs to maintain the electric grid.
This is a common falsehood peddled by the utilities to undercut our solar rights. In fact, rooftop solar users save all ratepayers money because we reduce wear and tear on the grid. In 2018 alone, thanks to rooftop solar, California officials canceled 18 grid infrastructure projects and reduced the scale of 23 others, saving $2.6 billion over the next year. (see Rooftop Solar Saves Everyone Money).
Instead of saying, "thanks solar users!" and making sure their contribution is adequately accounted for, CA utilities instead argue that solar users are more of a burden than a help, and have already slapped solar owners with a number of costs.
This is why you must pay a "non-bypassable charge", otherwise known as the "minimum bill".
It is why your extra energy credits at the end of the year are paid out for pennies and don't roll over to the next year. Yup, the utility gets to keep your extra energy that you invested in with your own money and generated on your own property.
It is also why you can't just add even one panel to your array without having to go through the entire interconnection process again, with new rates and new fees.
We are sure the utilities won't leave it at that, and expect them to strike again in 2019, when state regulators do a planned review of the net metering policy.
California solar owners and supporters: get ready to fight. To start with, add your name to the list of state residents who support a Solar Bill of Rights to better protect our right to generate and sell solar energy without interference from the monopoly utility. Sign the petition here.