Southern California environment news and trends

CPUC approval for net energy meeting boosts solar industry and its customers for a few more years

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Employees of Solar Forward install solar electric panels on a residential rooftop on February 27, 2009 in Santa Monica, California.

A few years ago, when I was first covering solar leasing, net metering was a big deal. “Look! The meter is spinning backwards,” the solar company dude said proudly. “That’s money in the homeowner’s pocket right there.”

The California Public Utilities Commission continues to share the solar industry’s enthusiasm for net energy metering. Today the PUC expanded a subsidy for this kind of arrangement by clarifying the language under which the subsidy is offered. According to the PUC, “doubles the amount of solar systems that can benefit from NEM, providing the benefits of solar energy to many more customers.”

Investor owned utilities must participate in the program, which requires them to pay customers for the full market value of the electricity they generate. Houses and businesses with qualified energy systems smaller than 1 MW can zero out their expenses for electricity. Without the clarification, northern and central California investor owned utility PG&E could fill up the program really soon. The effect of the clarification is to buy the solar industry more time to contribute to the state’s economy.