California Votes to Keep Net Metering

After much back-and-forth between representatives from both renewable energy and public utilities in California, an agreement has been reached about net metering.

Net metering is when people with rooftop solar energy systems receive credit on their electricity bills for the solar energy they do not use in a month.

Narrowly approved by the California Public Utilities Commission by a vote of 3-2, the new agreement will mean new solar customers will pay a one-time interconnection fee of between $75 and $150. They will also begin paying fees of a few cents per kilowatt-hour that most other non-solar customers already pay. These charges are meant to fund low-income and energy efficiency programs.

Also as part of the new agreement, solar customers will be compensated at different rates depending on what time of day they send their excess power to the grid.

The changes will not affect people who already have solar energy systems installed.

Microgrids

Executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association Bernadette Del Chiaro said in a news report that California would continue to develop microgrids and decentralize energy production and the new charges for solar energy users would help usher in this new system in the future.

Not everyone is happy with the new agreement. San Diego Gas & Electric, for one, said the new agreement would put more burden on people who don’t have a rooftop solar energy system. Some solar energy advocates also saw the agreement as a loss for renewable energy.

[Photo courtesy of Damien Gadal on Flickr]