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 We need your help to stop continuing efforts to undermine rooftop solar! Small rooftop and community solar projects help stabilize the grid, and are a critical component for California’s safe, clean, resilient, and affordable energy future – increasing rooftop solar benefits everyone on the grid! Energy utilities, like PG&E are (excessively) compensated for building out large transmission and distribution networks, so of course they are against these local systems, and they have lots of money to lobby the CPUC and our elected officials.

Tomorrow (Thursday), the CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is going to vote on a new calculation method that grossly undercounts the value of rooftop and other small, local solar projects, which will ripple through the system and skew the CPUC’s net metering ruling, making it costly for people to install their own solar.

Can you write a comment and/or call in to the CPUC meeting tomorrow by 10am? Reference “Draft Resolution 5150“.

Simple Talking Points 

1. Introduce yourself as a ratepayer and give your city. You are commenting as an individual; please do not speak as a representative of 350 Bay  Area – our Clean Energy team has a formal relationship with the CPUC on these matters and are not allowed to then also speak as the public.

The CPUC is trying to jam through a major change without adequate time for ratepayers and community groups to evaluate the impacts and provide input. This is not in accordance with their own process guidelines.

2. The proposed changes would continue to erode the calculated value of small distributed rooftop and community solar systems, which are a critical part of speeding the transition to a 100% clean, resilient, safe grid providing affordable energy for everyone.

3. The changes appear to support the Investor Owned Utilities preference for large concentrated energy generation projects, requiring big new spending for transmission projects – resulting in big money in the Utilities’ pockets, and a more expensive, brittle grid for ratepayers.

Submit a written comment to the CPUC by June 24th telling them to pull back Resolution 5150 and remove the bias against rooftop solar. Two ways to comment:

  • The easy way: submit a comment in one click
  • The more advanced way: Follow this link and click on the “Add Public Comment” box.
  • Make a verbal comment online at CPUC’s June 24th meeting. Be sure to dial in by 10 a.m. Public comments are among the first things on the agenda. Dial 1-800-857-1917, passcode: 9899501 (to make a public comment during the public comment period, press *1). You can also watch the CPUC meeting at this website: adminmonitor.com/ca/cpuc, but you must also call in with your phone to make a public comment. Your comment must be limited to 2 minutes. If you experience difficulty calling into the Public Comment line, please send an email to VotingMeetingHelp@cpuc.ca.gov or call (415) 703-5263.

More Background

The Avoided Cost Calculator (ACC) is a model that the state uses to calculate the value of rooftop solar; it was developed by E3,  a consulting firm working for the CPUC.  Coincidentally, E3 is also routinely used by utilities to produce reports slanted against local solar and in favor of large-scale renewables.

The ACC measures how much utility costs go down for every megawatt of distributed solar that is installed; it’s updated every year. The last major change was made in 2020. This year’s changes were supposed to be minor.

Instead, E3 and CPUC staff slipped in major revisions to the updated ACC that slash the 2021 value of energy efficiency by 50% and rooftop solar to just one-third the current value. There are two major revisions in this proposed change:

 

  1. New, impossibly short timelines for installing large-scale solar farms. The proposed calculator assumes an additional 20 gigawatts of utility-scale solar going online by 2025. That means about 5 GW of new utility scale solar per year for the next four years, despite the fact the CPUC has historically counted on only 2 GW of new large-scale solar per year. This assumption crowds out rooftop solar and pushes its value down. The theory is that because the federal clean energy tax credit was extended (ITC) there will be a rush to build more large solar farms. There may indeed be a rush, but it is impossible to install 20 gigawatts of large-scale solar over the next four years.
  1. New and untested model for predicting how wholesale energy pricing will behave in the future. We disagree with the theory behind this model, which, for example, assumes that the cost of wholesale utility-scale energy will be zero during the hottest days of the year. This makes no sense given wholesale electricity prices rise when demand rises, such as on hot summer days, and especially on hot summer days in the future when people have switched to electric cars and appliances and use more electricity than ever before. It’s fine to propose new market pricing theories, but it isn’t fine to use a brand new model to set policy without thoroughly vetting it with a wide range of stakeholders, especially something as radical as this concept.