PG&E, Utilities Push To Cut Subsidies For Home Solar Energy Systems

Apr 22, 2021 | In the News, PG&E

Source: KPIX 5 CBS SF Bay Area  |  By Kenny Choi

California’s electric grid is supposed to be fossil-free by 2045 and solar is part of the solution. Homeowners with solar panels get paid by PG&E for energy they kick back to the grid, but utility companies are pushing to cut credits.

PG&E’s proposal would cut credits for future solar users by more than half.

To add to that, AB 1139 which just went through the Utilities and Energy committee hearing this week, would, if passed, tack on monthly fees for future and current solar users.

“That really kind of hurts. For us, the incentives would have been a big thing,” said Concord Resident Nick Dragich.

Bernadette Del Chiaro of the California Solar & Storage Association told KPIX 5, “PG&E and other utilities do not like the idea of you generating your own energy. They want you to buy their product and be sort of hooked to their system.”

The utility is proposing to cut users’ credits, paying 25 cents per kilowatt hour now, to less than half that rate.

“Now is the time to make sure that we’re not burdening customers who can’t or do not want to install solar,” said Pacific Gas & Electric Company Spokesperson Ari Vanrenen.

Consumer advocacy groups like San Francisco based TURN, The Utility Reform Network, want credits cut, but don’t think PG&E’s proposal in the end would benefit lower-income homeowners and renters.

“We’ve got to have a solar plan that is equitable even for people who don’t get the benefit. That’s why we need to lower the solar tax,” said Mark Toney, TURN’s executive director.

The solar industry said the utility’s proposal would kill progress moving towards a greener future, lead to more profits for PG&E, and less incentives for rooftop installations that are utility companies’ most threatening competitor.

“Doing that would basically make the economics of going solar bad for consumers. Most people aren’t going to do it, and it’s going to kill a lot of jobs and businesses,” said Del Chiaro.

The Public Utilities Commission, which oversees PG&E is expected to make a decision on the proposal in January of 2022.

PG&E said the latest proposal would not affect current solar users, but when pressed, they could not guarantee, those credits will forever remain untouched.

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