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Higher fees could be coming for California solar customers

California Solar Panels
Posted at 4:28 PM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 23:43:34-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Solar customers in California may soon have a significantly higher bill if the state approves the Utilities Commission's new Net Energy Metering rules for rooftop solar power.

Monday, the California Public Utilities Commission shared its proposal of new rules for the state's 1.3 million rooftop solar customers.

"This is a complete disaster," Matthew Vasilakis with San Diego non-profit watchdog organization, Climate Action Campaign, said.

Vasilakis believes the proposal discourages people from switching to solar.

Under the current Net Energy Metering rules, when solar panels generate more energy than the homeowner needs, they can sell the extra power back to the utility for retail price. The updated new proposal says when customers sell back that extra power, they will be paid a smaller percentage.

The proposal states that solar customers will also be hit with a new monthly $40-$50 grid participation charge, something non-solar customers currently pay $100 a month.

"[The commission is] really crushing one of our only ways to achieving 100% clean electric future," Vasilakis said.

City Heights resident Ricardo Daniel Castillo made the switch to solar four years ago. After installation, his San Diego Gas & Electric [SDG&E] bill went from $280 to about $10 a month. In addition, he pays Tesla a $100 monthly rental fee for the equipment.

"That's like $270 savings right off the bat. It's been that way ever since," Castillo said.

Castillo said he is not too keen on the proposal's added monthly fees. He believes people like himself, who are looking into the future of energy production, should not have to pay for traditional energy grid repairs.

"That's the same thing with these wires and telephones and old technology poles since Thomas Edison days. It's over. It's done," Castillo said.

Tuesday, SDG&E told ABC 10News:

"SDG&E will reserve comment until our experts have an opportunity to review the 204-page proposed decision and evaluate its impact to our customers."

But on its website, it states that changes need to be made to current rules because:

"Rooftop solar customers are not paying their fair share of the fixed electric grid costs even though they use it more than others to send and receive power to their homes."

The Utilities Commission has a few weeks to discuss the proposed changes with government leaders, utility companies, and the public.

Commissioners will vote on the proposal on January 27, 2022.