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Proposed Changes to California’s Net Metering

California utilities have proposed a plan for NEM 3.0, NEM 2.0’s successor that would cut solar export compensation down to one quarter of what it is today, and introduce a requirement for solar panel users to be on a certain rate schedule. Additionally, NEM 3.0 would add monthly fixed charges/fees based on the size of the solar system installed, on top of the current fixed charges that homeowners already have to pay under NEM 2.0.

On the other side of the fence, solar industry groups are proposing that NEM 3.0 reduces rates based on the rate at which the state hits certain solar energy and energy storage targets (CALSSA), while SEIA and Vote Solar would like to see a step-down of the rate over time. These groups would also like to ensure that people who are currently benefiting from either NEM 1.0 or NEM 2.0 stay on their respective programs and aren’t forced to move on to the new plan.

One thing that every group involved in these changes is in agreement about, however, is that the proposed changes need to benefit low-income solar customers in one way or another, as the current California Net Metering program does little to benefit people who have low electricity bills to begin with.

The Downside

If the utilities in California get their way, solar will get much more expensive for homeowners looking to benefit from this clean energy source, which means that solar deals are likely to get harder for solar companies to close next year. NEM 3.0, in this case, would also favor off-grid solar which can get get very expensive and is usually something reserved for higher-income customers.

The utility’s proposed changes might also cause a trickle-down effect to other solar mandates and programs in the state such as the requirement that all new constructions require solar panels, since the incentive that the home’s value will increase is negated by all the proposed new fees and monthly charges. This means that there will be much more to evaluate, debate, and update than just the CA Net Metering program.

Finally, making solar more expensive to acquire for the average homeowner is in no way aligned with the state’s clean energy goals of shifting to 60% renewable energy by 2030, and finally 100% by 2050.

How You Can Help

While the proposed changes to California’s Net Metering affect everyone in the state and not just solar system owners, they will also greatly impact the bottom lines of solar installers and solar companies.

Your voice can make a difference and taking action will help keep California in the lead with rooftop solar. There are a number of ways to get involved to show your support to protect and strengthen solar in our state to ensure it is accessible and affordable for everyone.

The fight to save solar in California has just begun, but the industry needs your help today. The consensus from those in the know is that this could greatly impact the accessibility of solar in the state and make it harder for Californians to hit their ambitious clean energy goals moving forward.