California solar energy advocates have praised a proposed decision from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that, if approved, is expected to boost renewable energy deployment by homeowners, businesses and commercial uses and lower energy costs for both solar and non-solar energy ratepayers. The proposal, put forward by CPUC Chairman Michael Peevey, clarifies the methodology to fairly calculate the cap on net metering.
California's current law sets the cap at ‘5 percent of aggregate customer peak demand,’ but does not specify how utilities should calculate that number, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and other advocacy groups.
Consequently, utilities are using a more restrictive methodology that results in almost 50% less net-metered solar and renewable energy than would otherwise be allowed. The CPUC-proposed decision clarifies that utilities should use a cap calculation methodology that results in more access to net metering.
‘The [CPUC's] proposed decision is a positive step in maintaining the growth of solar in California by clarifying the amount of net metering allowed under current law,’ explains Joseph Wiedman, a partner at Keyes, Fox & Wiedman LLP (which represents the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)).
‘Unlike the current cap calculation methodology, which overestimates the amount of solar on the grid, the CPUC proposal is in line with the original intent of California's net meeting law,’ adds Carrie Hitt, vice president of state affairs for SEIA.
SEIA, the Vote Solar Initiative, the Sierra Club and IREC submitted joint comments in CPUC's cap calculation proceeding. The proposed decision will be considered by the entire commission at an upcoming hearing, to be held no sooner than 30 days from the issuance of the proposed decision.