Net Energy Metering appeal

(01/2023) Just as rooftop solar has begun to become accessible for medium and low income communities, Net Energy Metering 3.0, passed in December of 2022, has destroyed any chance of solar staying financially feasible. For anyone attempting to install solar after April 15, 2023, solar credits will be cut to 25% of the NEM 2.0 rate, while the grandfathering clause ensures that anyone who already has a solar system will continue to get the higher rate.

However, there is still hope! The Center for Biological Diversity has appealed the CPUC’s unanimous decision to slash rooftop solar benefits and side with the utilities. The appeal focuses on statutory mandates of the CPUC that this decision violates and legal errors.

The three primary ones are as follows:

  1. The mandate to ensure continued growth of distributed generation. It has been shown by several predictive studies, economic analysis and a real case study from what happened when NV slashed solar credits that NEM 3.0 will significantly decrease the growth of solar generation. The CPUC did not address how it will keep solar growing, when it passed NEM 3.0.
  2. The mandate that, in the case of a tariff that reduces solar credits generally, clearly outlines how solar will continue to grow in disadvantaged communities (DAC). The commission must design alternatives for growth of solar in disadvantaged communities, if an existing tariff structure affects solar growth rates. The commission also hasn’t outlined clear exceptions from NEM 3.0 for DACs, failing to ensure the growth of solar in these communities. By ignoring this responsibility, the ruling itself can be appealed as violating the commission’s mandate.
  3. The legal error of falsely accounting the true costs and benefits of behind the meter solar. The commission solely relies on the avoided cost calculator which is a utility centric model, not including the extensive energy and non energy benefits of having local clean energy in communities, including climate resilience, and reducing pollution. Most significant among these false accounting measures is the faulty cost shift argument which claims solar customers who offset their bills place the burden of the grid onto non solar customers. The real culprit of these high rates is the utility, who builds unnecessary infrastructure, has been criminally negligent and prioritizes investor profits at the expense of its customers. Finally, the commission doesn’t look at overall effectiveness and decarbonization of the grid, which is actually its responsibility.

LCEA has always stood by net energy metering as a way to realize local clean energy benefits. We continue to advocate to make solar and NEM more accessible to disadvantaged communities. The recent NEM 3.0 decision does exactly the opposite and we are hopeful that this appeal will prevent the rule from being implemented and wreaking havoc on California’s climate and environmental justice goals.

Check out this Appeal Toolkit for more info, including sample letters to the editor, tweets, talking points and more.

Attend an exciting webinar on April 13 on the Center for Biological Diversity’s new report Rooftop Solar Justice. which will include an an update on the appeal of the CPUC’s new rooftop solar plan.