http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-e ... 6513.story
People living in temperate climates along the coast would probably see higher bills. Those in torrid regions — the San Joaquin Valley, the Inland Empire and the Mojave Desert — would get some rate relief.
Rate changes would not be implemented until the CPUC " conducts a detailed, technical investigation."
Additionally, the PUC would have the authority to charge all ratepayers a fixed monthly fee of up to $10 each."
So solar PV owners who currently pay only a small service charge, and I assume that includes those who are leasing their solar PV, may end up paying a monthly charge of some kind to the utility.
The measure is backed by the three utilities, consumer groups such as the Utility Reform Network and the Greenlining Institute, the AARP and other senior citizens groups, the California Retailers Assn. and the national Solar Energy Industries Assn., among others.
Opponents include the Sierra Club, the California Manufacturers & Technology Assn. and the California League of Food Processors.
Manufacturers said they feared that raising the renewable target could make California's already high electric rates even higher. Farmers and growers, who invested in expensive solar power equipment, worried that they could be shortchanged by a shift in the rules for earning credits for excess power.
The Sierra Club objected to a provision that would allow the PUC to charge the $10 fixed monthly fee for maintenance of the grid.
The fee, said Kathryn Phillips, the club's state director, "has no real purpose other than to discourage investment in roof-top solar and energy efficiency" by lengthening the time needed to reap a payback from their expensive renewable systems.
Edison argued that the charge is an equitable way to make sure that everyone who uses the grid, including people who get most of their energy from roof-top solar, pay a portion of the fixed costs of maintaining thousands of miles of transmission and distribution lines.
As someone who installed a 5 kW DC rooftop solar PV system over 6 years ago and who hasn't paid an electric bill since, I'm somewhat torn. I tend to agree that we are using the grid as a massive storage battery, and getting that for free while our neighbors pay to maintain the system is probably not right. On the other hand, our expensive rooftop PV systems make clean, renewable power at exactly the time of day when the state needs it, during sunny daytimes, and we use power at night, when there is less demand and the utilities need to sell more power. So we are already helping the state in a huge way.
Aside from the possibility of a small monthly charge, I wonder if changes in the rate structures could affect the large retail credits that we earn when we generate solar power during Peak hours due to tiered rates. I was told by an Edison employee some time ago that people who are currently on TOU rate plans would be grandfathered when rate changes like this take effect. But that was offhand talk. We'll see.
I'm interested in what the Forum community knows about the details of this. Are we going to see just an annoying $10 monthly fee or are rate structures going to change drastically enough to disrupt the equations that residents used to justify the large capital purchase of a solar PV system?