Our Work at the CPUC
350 Bay Area was part of the successful coalition that won the preservation of net metering in California in early 2016. We continue to watch for and fight against any weakening of this plan. Net metering is critical to the success of distributed generation, like rooftop solar. Through the work of its Clean Energy Campaign, 350 Bay Area was one of a handful of grassroots groups to fully engage as an official party to the CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) proceeding, as well as organizing grassroots activism in support of rooftop solar. The basic idea of Net Metering is pretty straightforward.
If you put solar panels on your roof and enroll in a net metering program as most do, you will first use the energy it creates for your own energy in your house during the day when the sun is out. Any excess you create beyond that is put back in the grid as a credit and a meter runs backward keeping track of how much that is. When you use electricity at night the credit you have accumulated keeps you from having to pay for that. If you create excess beyond that, your electric utility then credits you back for that at some point. Different formulas exist in different states. California’s policy is explained HERE if you scroll down. It was extended until 2019 in that effort referred to in the above paragraph. A good article on the effort can be read by clicking HERE
There are other issues besides Net Metering that we monitor and engage with the CPUC on. There are efforts to regulate Community Choice Energy programs there and a hot issue is the PCIA (stands for Power Change Indifference Adjustment) charge on the bills of those who get their energy generation from a community choice program they are enrolled in. Few who see it are “indifferent” about it and it initially was going to be temporary. Now it is moving higher and plans are to keep it indefinitely – something which is controversial. It is an “exit” fee because the customer in a CCE program has “left” a long-term contract the investor-owned utility made to generate the energy somewhere different (nuclear? natural gas?) else. The concern about where this is headed is explained pretty well HERE
And finally, we have been engaging the CPUC on the issue of the “cost” of various types of energy. Frequently the “true” coat is passed over lightly to focus more on the money ratepayors have to pay for the transmission and generation of the energy without looking at the societal cost involved in mitigating the health problems and environmental damage and, yes, even the climate change or global warming attributes associated with each energy type. This is a key issue that is just now being focused on at the CPUC in an on-going proceeding we are involved in as a “party”. The proceeding which has to do with creating a consistent regulatory framework for looking at integrated distributed energy resources has been going on since 2014 and just this month had a workshop on societal cost that we participated in. Learn what happened at that workshop HERE.
Please join us for all of these policy efforts.