Three leading environmental groups have filed a petition with the California Court of Appeals to review the state’s solar net metering cuts.
A coalition of three environmental groups has filed a lawsuit against the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) over a rulemaking that quickly and sharply cuts fees to rooftop solar owners for putting clean energy on the grid.
Environmental Working Group, Protect our Communities Coalition and the Center for Biological Diversity made an application with the California Court of Appeals to review the state’s new Net Energy Metering 3.0 policy.
In December 2022 CPUC decided to pass NEM 3.0which reduces solar energy export fees by up to 80%.
The petition said the rule violates state climate laws and misjudges the many benefits of small-scale, distributed rooftop solar. ignoring the billions of dollars that utilities spend on transmission infrastructure, driving up prices. The advantages of solar energy on the roof are e.gincreased greenhouse gas emissions, resilience to extreme weather and power outages, and avoided the impacts of land use by reducing the need for electricity transmission infrastructure, which also keeps electricity bills low.
The lawsuit directly names three major investor-owned electric companies, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric Company, as real parties in interest.
The decision approved the investor-owned utility avoided cost counter for setting prices. NEM 3.0 was introduced on April 15th and has reduced ROI for rooftop solar, especially when not coupled with energy storage.
The state was the spearhead of the rooftop solar industry across the U.S., representing about 50% of the market, and now that spearhead has been blunted. It is designed by Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). new solar installations expected to drop nearly 40% in California until 2024 after doubling between 2020 and 2022.
“The commission’s misguided new policy violates California’s climate laws and stifles rooftop solar growth, especially for working-class families,” said Roger Lin, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is outrageous that the Commission is slowing down our transition to renewable energy when we have to race towards it.”
The petitioners said that NEM 3.0 contained numerous legal errors and false assumptions, and that the court should reverse the decision, grant reconsideration and remand the case with instructions to comply with the Legislature’s requirements to fully and properly assess the costs and benefits of NEM.
Why cut solar energy?
The petition highlights the methods used by institutions across the country block rooftop solar energy when distributed energy resources threaten the plant’s profit. A report by the Center for Biological Diversity assesses the benefits of rooftop solar energy and net metering and why are the utility companies trying to kill these programs.
The rule decision was justified based on the analysis that suggested non-rooftop solar customers supported neighbors who decided to invest in the transition to clean energy.
However, this utility has been passed the cost-shifting argument has been refuted. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory found that in 47 states, the change in the cost of solar energy is negligible. In most states, the solar penetration rate is well below 10%. Until you reach this level of penetration, costs will not change completely states across the country are following in California’s footsteps in net measurement to be cut.
At penetration levels of up to 10% or higher, the National Laboratory found that the “shift” is only 5/1,000 cents per kilowatt-hour. Sixteen state-level analyzes have reached the same conclusion the change in costs is negligible.
“If the goal is to keep prices low, there are other pieces of the puzzle that affect prices much more than net metering,” Galen L. Barbose, LBNL researcher, reflects LBNL’s research that put this into context. “Coal pricing, the use of obsolete plants – these are the issues that utilities and regulators should focus on.”
More problems ahead
In addition, the state Public Counsel’s Office (PAO) has followed state procedures that require it to equitably balance the resource cost needs of large investor-owned utilities.recommended a fixed electricity bill payment for all Californians based on income.
The PAO’s recommendation sets fixed monthly payments for customers between $22 and $42 per month, while some utility proposals under review estimate payments for California residents as high as $128 per month. This proposal would even apply to rooftop solar customers who draw zero electricity from the grid.
“If you’re using a little electricity today with a relatively low bill, you’ll almost always see a higher bill once this plan is implemented,” said Ahmad Faruqui, chief economist for grid management. expert and resident of California.
“Customers are very irritated,” Faruqui said. “They’re not paying more for electricity because their behavior has changed, but because California is changing the rules.”