California Commission Rejects Utility Challenge to Net Metering

Utilities’ Attempt to Block Solar Tariff Rebuked in Commission Resolution

San Francisco—The California Public Utilities Commission has approved a decision rejecting all legal challenges to recently adopted net energy metering rules for solar customers.

In January, the CPUC established an uncapped net metering “successor tariff” that will apply to all new solar customers of PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E by July 2017. The decision made significant reforms to ensure the successor tariff is sustainable, with increased assessment of non-bypassable charges and mandatory time of use (TOU) rates for residential customers. Based on an extensive evidentiary record, the decision maintained the fundamental structure of NEM and rejected new fees and low compensation rates proposed by the utilities.

The utilities responded to the CPUC’s January decision by filing “applications for rehearing,” which allege that the decision contained legal error and must be modified. PG&E’s application challenged the decision as a whole. The application from SCE and SDG&E challenged certain aspects. A ratepayer group, TURN, and a coalition of utility unions also challenged parts of the decision.

The CPUC order, issued last Tuesday, rejects those legal challenges and makes two minor tweaks to the language supporting the decision without changing any elements of the decision.

“This was a frivolous legal maneuver by utilities, paid for by ratepayers, and the Commission appropriately has put an end to it,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. “California utilities should stop using ratepayer money to block the very same ratepayers from having the choice to go solar.”

“The CPUC protected consumer choice back in January and again with this decision,” added Del Chiaro.