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Solar companies rush to fill orders before California's incentive changes

Solar companies rush to fill orders before state incentive changes
Posted at 4:55 PM, Apr 05, 2023

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) — The State of California’s upcoming solar incentive changes has a lot of San Diegans on edge.

“It’s a very contradictory policy,” said Michael Gilroy, a Chula Vista resident.

Solar owners receive money for excess electricity created by their panels, but soon the amount they're credited could drop by an average of 80%.

“It was now or never so we finally made the decision to do it,” Gilroy said.

Californians are usually credited at the retail rate of electricity. But with this upcoming change, customers will receive the “actual avoided cost." This is equal to the amount the utility would have to pay to generate the power itself or purchase from another source. This amount is lower during the day, when the sun is out and solar energy is abundant and cheap.

Gilroy says he hired HES Solar right when he heard of this, and so did a handful of his neighbors.

“The response has been phenomenal," said Brad Souza, President of Residential for HES Solar. "We’ve had record inquiries on solar. Record number of customers signing up.”

Twenty-two years in San Diego and HES solar has never gotten so much business.

“Some of our energy consultants are working seven days a week, many hours a day," Souza said. "And everybody’s working overtime to try and get everything done.”

That’s because customers that apply before April 15th can still qualify for previous state incentives. You just need a sales contract with a solar company and an interconnection agreement with SDG&E.

“We staffed up to handle this demand," Souza said. "We’re still taking new customers. There’s still a little window of opportunity, but the time is running out.”

Even after the incentive change, the California Public Utilities Commission estimates that the average solar customer could save more than $100 a month, after regaining the cost of installation. HES Solar says you could install a battery to store the energy you don't use during the day, so that you can sell it to SDG&E at night when the "actual avoided cost" is higher.