Several Utility Companies are lobbying the California Public Utilities Commission since long back to make consumer solar twice as expensive than it is today. Resultantly, solar will be out of reach for the working and middle class, especially when it is just started taking off.
For a long time, utilities are constantly trying to reduce savings from solar and to add new fees on rooftop solar. It helps utilities to shrink the competition and to secure their monopoly so that they can keep increasing their rates.
Last week, CPUC unanimously decided to approve major modifications to the “Avoided Cost Calculator” (ACC) that deeply undercuts the value of rooftop solar. The vote came despite more than 7,000 public comments submitted to the commissioners protesting the modifications.
Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. (E3) is the firm that came up with this methodology called the ACC model. It is a technical advisory firm used by utility companies to issue research products and then they use it against distributed power generation.
E3 and CPUC now have made some major overhauls that reduced the value of rooftop solar in the 2021 calculator by about a third of the value in the 2020 version. The calculator has another 30 GW of utility-scale solar and storage coming online by 2025.
In the four-year period between 2017 and 2020, only 6.4 GW of utility-scale solar was installed. To date, a total of 15 GW of utility-scale solar has been built in California. Solar industry advocacy group ‘Save California Solar’ unveiled in a press release that “The idea of installing 30 GW of utility-scale solar and storage over the next four years is completely out of line with reality.”
The calculator uses an entirely new and untested model to predict how wholesale energy prices will behave in the future. “CPUC cannot begin to use this new model to set rates, including net energy meter readings, without thoroughly vetting it with a wide range of stakeholders,” added Save California Solar.
Rooftop solar with support for net metering seems to be a more affordable route than utility-scale solar. The only way to protect our communities from power outages is local solar and battery storage. Also, killing the rooftop solar market through ACC or by altering already prevailing solar net metering scheme means annual rolling power outages with no end in sight.