PG&E Proposes Cuts to Rooftop Solar to Keep Program Going

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Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) proposed cutting its rooftop solar program in an effort to keep it viable. Despite having the most rooftop solar power in the country, the utility now is trying to pare how much it reimburses new rooftop solar owners through a new proposal with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The new proposal is an opening salvo to the state as it takes on net-metering in increasingly solar-powered part of the U.S.

The utility said that has interconnected more than 175,000 rooftop solar systems in its service territory. That’s about 25 percent of all rooftop solar in America, according to the utility. Last year alone it said it connected a system every 11 minutes. That’s about 48,000 new systems in one year. The utility also said it’s now able to interconnect a new solar system within a week compared to a national average of four weeks to interconnection.

“Solar is too important to our energy future not to get right. Working together, we can craft the right rate reform that will help solar grow and help build the smart energy future our customers want and deserve,” said PG&E Chairman and CEO Tony Earley.

To keep adding more residential and small business solar, however, the utility wants to reduce how much it pays for rooftop solar energy. Currently it pays 17 cents per kilowatt hour for rooftop solar power, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The newspaper reported that under the new proposal PG&E would reimburse rooftop solar customers at a rate of 10 cents per kilowatt hour. The utility said the new proposal will include usage-based demand charge.

The utility said its rooftop solar customers will still save more than 50 percent on their monthly bill. For a 3.7 kilowatt solar array, it would reduce the amount they get for their solar panels by about $20 a month.

The newspaper said that currently rooftop solar customers that had a $180 monthly electric bill are receiving a 60 percent discount on their bill because of the electricity generated by their panels. “Under the new plan, the average customer who switches to solar once the proposal is in effect in 2017 would realize a reduction of 50 percent, or $90 less a month,” the newspaper reported.