Another victory for California solar consumers. Last week the California Public Utilities Commission(CPUC) largely rejected legal challenges to net energy metering rules(NEM) previously adopted in January of this year. Applications for rehearing had been filed by PG&E, SCE and SDB&E alleging legal errors in the January decision. TURN, a ratepayer group, as well as representatives of a coalition of utility unions had also challenged portions of the earlier ruling.
In January, the CPUC issued a decision to create the NEM “successor tariff,” known as NEM 2.0, which CALSEIA says did not include the new fees and lower compensation rates proposed by the state’s three investor-owned utilities. The decision made significant changes, with increased assessment of non-bypassable charges and mandatory time-of-use rates for residential customers, but it left in place the fundamental structure of NEM, CALSEIA adds.
While the CPUC did make minor changes in the decision, it was clear the Utilities were not happy with the outcome
The CPUC resolution rejects those legal challenges, and although CALSEIA notes the CPUC made two minor tweaks to the language of the decision, it did not change any elements of the order.
“This was a frivolous legal maneuver by utilities, paid for by ratepayers, and the commission has put an end to it,” charges Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of CALSEIA.
A PG&E spokesperson clearly disagreed with the decision handed down and they have the right to appeal. But observers felt they will not exercise that option due to a low likelihood of changing the outcome.
“With their final decision on NEM, the CPUC did not make the smart energy reforms that are needed to ensure a sustainable market for solar in California,” said the spokesperson. “While we are disappointed the CPUC decided to not move forward with a rehearing, PG&E is committed to working with all parties to find the right balance to support continued growth of solar.”
Certainly not the last discussion on net metering in the Golden State. The CPUC is already interviewing Consultants to start discussing the methodology for the next round. That process will play out between now and 2019.