Time is Running Out on Solar Power Net Energy Metering in San Diego

Net Energy Metering 1.0 (NEM), as we knew it in San Diego, ended at 8:24 AM June 29, 2016!

As of 2:00 PM on June 28, only .5 MW of the 617 MW NEM Cap remained to be filled. As of 5:30 PM, only .4 MW remained. (See charts below.) With close to 1 full MW having been completed on a daily basis for several months now, it is all but certain that the remaining 400 kilowatts will receive Permission to Operate (PTO) today. Now Go Solar is pleased to report that we received PTO at 7:44 AM this morning for a customer on Corte Anacapa in Chula Vista. This customer signed the sales contract on the afternoon of Monday, June 20. We completed the installation on Monday, June 27, passed final inspection on Tuesday, June 28, and received PTO early in the morning of June 29. From contract to PTO in less than 9 days, in Chula Vista, is pretty good.

For this last of our installed customers, we beat the closing NEM 1.0 window by 40 minutes. As of 8:24 AM today, the 617 MW Cap was achieved, but our customer on Corte Anacapa received notification of approval of PTO at 7:44 AM.

The count-up to 617 MW in the SDG&E service area was achieved as of 8:24 AM, June 29, 2016.

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The following charts show the status on the previous day:

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Net Energy Metering (NEM) does not end today, but as of 8:24 AM the rules have changed, consistent with the decision of the California Public Utilities Commission issued on January 28, 2016.

Unofficially, the cap was already reached weeks ago. If you combine the total systems already installed and activated, with those projects in the queue that have not yet been completed with final utility inspections, a total of 652.5 of the 617 MW cap has already been installed. It is just that, as of the close of business on June 28, 2016, 35.5 MW had not yet passed final inspection in order to receive permission to operate (PTO). 

As of the close of business on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 93,056 solar generation systems were authorized and operational across San Diego. This was up 338 from the 92,718 two business days before. These systems account for production of 611.3 megawatts of the 617 megawatt Net Energy Metering cap. As of  June 28 there were 325 additional SDG&E customers with systems already installed, just waiting for the utility’s final inspection. These represent another 5.4 megawatts of solar energy production. Thus 616.6 Megawatts of the 617 Megawatt NEM Cap has already been built. (See chart above.)

These figures do NOT include the additional applications for newly planned systems not yet installed. Those 2,016 applications represent another 35.9 megawatts, as reported by SDG&E on June 28.

When you combine the systems already installed with the currently pending applications, 652.5 of the 617 megawatt cap has been spoken for. It is now a race for completion of the projects in queue. Unofficially, had all of the projects in queue been completed, the NEM cap would have already been exceeded by 35.5 MW. But the utility is only counting those systems that have actually passed final inspection. Customers of less prudent installers will miss out on the better benefits afforded to those who have received PTO before the new rules go into effect.

Once that 617 MW cap is reached, something that will surely happen today, the Net Energy Metering tariff changes — already approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on January 28 — will make going solar a bit more costly for commercial and residential installations throughout San Diego County.

The over 93,000 San Diego homeowners who wisely already installed solar will benefit more than those who join the solar revolution from this point forward. There is no question, however, going solar remains a wise move for those who have not yet done so.  The difference is that for the average homeowner, the net savings may be reduced by only a few hundred dollars per year. The good news is, you can still save thousands.

There has been a good deal of miscommunication and confusion concerning the upcoming changes to Net Energy Metering (NEM) in California. Yes, the  CPUC’s January 28, 2016 decision did determine that Net Energy Metering will continue for the foreseeable future, but with added costs. While NEM is not disappearing any time soon, the costs involved in participating are going up dramatically for those who choose to wait.

For months now we have been anticipating major changes in the way net metering will change once SDG&E reaches the Net Energy Metering cap of 617 megawatts being produced from distributed generation solar energy systems. On Thursday, January 28, 2016, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted on the tentative ruling handed down on December 15, 2015. This CPUC decision requires new net metering customers to

  • Pay a non-refundable $132.00 interconnection application fee to be connected to the grid, payable at time of NEM application;
  • Pay “non-bypassable” charges that are levied on each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity the customer obtains from the Investor Owned Utility (IOU), on all energy consumed from the grid, in each metered time interval, regardless of the monthly netting of the energy exported to the grid by the customer. These non-bypassable charges include such billing line items as Public Purpose Programs, Nuclear Decommissioning, Competition Transition, and the Department of Water Resources Bond; and
  • Be subject to time-of-use rates.

This is the bad news that was anticipated. It could have been worse. The CPUC declined to impose demand charges, grid access charges (other than the interconnection fee), installed capacity fees, standby fees, or similar fixed charges on residential NEM customers. This is true for the time being, while the Commission is working on how, if at all, such fees should be developed. Hence, this is subject to change at a later date.

While Net Energy Metering will continue to be available, these new terms are not nearly as user-friendly for utility customers who adopt solar once the current cap is reached. The new rules were set to go into effect when SDG&E is receiving 617 megawatts of energy from solar. That happened today, June 29, 2016 at approximately 8:24 AM. Customers who received Permission to Operate (PTO) before that time are grandfathered into the old rules for 20 years from the date of their solar system activation.

photovoltaic solar panels generate solar energy

When residential photovoltaic panels generate more power than used by the home, that excess electrical energy is passed to the grid for use by the local electric utility. With current Net Energy Metering in effect, early adopting homeowners benefit by receiving full retail credit for the power they produce. This will soon change for late-comers, creating urgency to install solar now.

The Net Energy Metering Cap Was Reached TODAY (8:24 AM on June 29, 2016, in San Diego

Currently over 93,000 San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) customers are already, or will soon be generating solar power for the utility from solar panels installed on their roofs, a number that has been increasing by close to 100 per day for the past several monthss. These customers are enjoying the benefits of 1:1 Net Energy Metering (NEM), receiving full retail credit for all the energy they produce.

Late comers to the solar energy revolution, however, will still receive the benefits of Net Energy Metering, under revised rules. Under new new rules, utility customers with solar energy production systems must pay an application fee of $132 and be subject to certain other charges.

The utility’s rooftop solar producers who succeeded in getting in under the old rules will enjoy full credit for the excess energy they generate and send back to the grid. If their system produces more energy than they use, that excess energy is sent to the grid as their electric meter turns backwards. Then at night, when their system is not generating power, they will draw energy back from the grid.

The NEM 617 MW cap governing the effective date of the new rules was achieved at 8:24 AM on Wednesday, June 29, 2016.

 

In August of 2015, each of the major investor owned California electric utilities San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) filed proposals with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), regarding a successor to the current Net Energy Metering tariff. While the details are not yet set in concrete, a proposed order from the CPUC was released on December 15. The new plan will be voted on by the CPUC in late January, 2016, and will be known as Net Metering 2.0. According to an article appearing on Green Tech Media, the proposed changes, “would have the broad effect of significantly reducing the economic value of customer-sited solar systems, compared to today’s current net-metering rules.”

The full text of the SDG&E’s NEM proposal is found at https://www.sdge.com/sites/default/files/regulatory/Proposal_NEM_Successor_Tariff-Filing%20.pdf. (We also have a copy here.) If passed in its present form, much of the incentive for going solar would have been removed. Fortunately, only a portion of the utility company proposals were accepted by the CPUC. Still, the approved changes will cost the average solar adopting home owner hundreds of dollars more each year. Multiply that loss of savings over a 25 year period, and it represents many thousands of dollars. Those who elect to postpone going solar will miss out on that savings.

As a consequence of the impending net metering changes, homeowners in the know are scrambling to get their systems installed and operational before this window of opportunity closes. To illustrate this accelerated interest in solar, 3,829 newly installed solar generation systems were activated during the month of December, 2015, alone. Despite the coming change in Net Energy Metering, existing solar energy generating customers — those whose systems are already installed and operational when the Net Energy Metering (NEM) policy does change — are safe for 20-years from the date their systems become operational. This protection will not be available to customers who go solar after the new rules go into effect.

Frankly, the ONLY way to protect yourself is to NOW go solar, quickly before the NEM policy change goes into effect. If you have been researching the idea of installing solar panels on your home, or thinking about it, the time to act has come. It is time to get off the fence and get on with it: you need to NOW Go Solar!

When Will the Net Energy Metering Window Close?

This was a question on the minds of thousands of people across San Diego County for the past year or so. The answer is that the window to NEM 1.0 closed at 8:24 AM on Wednesday, June 28, 2016.

 

 

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The following table shows the status of NEM as of the close of business on Tuesday, June 28, 2016:

As of the close of business on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 93,056 solar generation systems were authorized and operational across San Diego. This was up 338 from the 92,718 two business days before. These systems account for production of 611.3 megawatts of the 617 megawatt Net Energy Metering cap. As of  June 28 there were 325 additional SDG&E customers with systems already installed, just waiting for the utility’s final inspection. These represent another 5.4 megawatts of solar energy production. Thus 616.6 Megawatts of the 617 Megawatt NEM Cap has already been built. (See chart below.)

These figures did NOT include the additional applications for newly planned systems not yet installed. Those 2,016 applications represented another 35.9 megawatts, as reported by SDG&E on June 28.

When you combine the systems already installed with the currently pending applications, 652.5 of the 617 megawatt cap has been spoken for. Had all of the projects in queue been completed, the NEM cap would have been exceeded by 35.5 MW.

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The following table shows the status of NEM as of December 31, 2015:

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During the 31 days in December, which included the Christmas holiday, 3,829 SDG&E customers had their newly installed PV solar power generation systems become operational.

During just the last 2 months of 2015, and the first 5 months and 24 days of 2016, over 24,000 SDGE customers had their systems approved and turned on. That is over 3,400 each month, and over 3,800 in December alone.

On October 28, 2015 the CPUC held a public forum in San Diego to discuss the progress of SDG&E in reaching its NEM cap. The CPUC’s Energy Division accurately predicted at that time, that month over month increases in the adoption of solar were likely, as the net metering cap approached. November and December have seen just such increases over the previous months.

We have been warning for many months that if you do not have your photovoltaic system installed and activated within the first quarter of 2016, it may be too late to qualify for the most beneficial 1 to 1 net metering program. Our prediction was close, within about 60 days of the actual date.

While those who jumped on board early will have benefited more from their decision to go solar early, you can still benefit by NOW going solar. Net metering will continue in SDG&E territory, but under a new set of rules less beneficial to consumers. If you’ve been sitting on the fence, or waiting for the right time to go solar, wait no more — because the right time to go solar is NOW.

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For more information or to request a solar energy consultation, please visit
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Those who have heeded our warnings, and had their solar energy systems installed already, will be grandfathered under the current Net Energy Metering tariff for the next 20 years, realizing long term savings potentially several thousand dollars more than the latecomers.

On January 28, 2016 the California Public Utilities Commission voted in favor of the proposed ruling issued on December 15, 2015. What this means for homeowners installing solar energy systems once the current NEM cap is reached, is that it will cost more to go solar. Utility customers installing solar energy systems on their property will be required to pay an interconnection fee, pay charges that support public purpose programs on all energy consumed from the grid and be subject to time-of-use rates. Consumers desiring to avoid these new charges need to act fast.

During the month of May, 2016, SDG&E received 3,421 new applications for Net Energy Metering. These represented 23.8 megawatts of energy. Together with completed solar projects and those in queue at various stages of completion, the 617 megawatt cap had been superseded by 9.4 MW by the end of May. But that includes many solar project applications where the contractors have been slow to complete the projects for one reason or another, or where they await final inspection passing. It is still possible for a new application to be installed and approved before some of those already in the queue.

May, 2016

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April, 2016 2016-04-29_MonthlyNEMLimitReport

March 2016

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February 2016

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January 2016

During the month of January, 2016, SDG&E received 3,076 new applications for Net Energy Metering, representing almost 21 megawatts of energy.

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December 2015:

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November 2015:

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October 2015:

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