California: 2007 CEC Rebate Changes

52 Posts
Jun 28, 2007 03:36 pm
California: 2007 CEC Rebate Changes

I have heard that there have been major changes to the state rebate program in California and that the rebates are now performance based and are regulated by the utility companies. Since I’m over on the East Coast I’ve had some trouble sorting out the gossip from the facts. If you are a home owner planning an installation in California how is this effecting your decision to install a grid tie PV system? If you are an installer in California how is this affecting your business?

I’ve also heard that current grid tie installations are being effected by utility rate changes. If you have a grid tie system currently installed have you been effected by the change in legislation?

I’ve heard a lot of people are unhappy with the recent changes. What do you think of the changes? If you are unhappy about the changes are there any political action groups that are working on changing the legislation?
351 Posts
Jun 28, 2007 05:09 pm
Re: California: 2007 CEC Rebate Changes

Sounds like you have been getting bits and pieces.

The CEC Rebates are now for newly constructed homes, only. Rebates for the existing homes are now the Public Utility Commission (CPUC) responsibility.

The CPUC rebates will be declining in future years.  We are currently at step 2 which pays $2.50 per watt installed for residental applications. This can be "up to half" of the cost (assuming you build a $5 per watt system), but it is definately not as generous as the previous 50% of installed cost. (Step 2 covers 70MW of installations, Step 3 will be 100Mw at $2.20 per watt)

California was a net metering state.  CA Senate Bill 1 mandated that solar go to time of use (TOU) rates. It was a well intentioned law intending to pay more for the solar energy generated during the day, than the cost of power at night. That is, to increase the profit margin of the solar homeowner. However, it had the unintended consequence of driving up the bills for people that did not generate 100 percent of their daytime usage. It was especially noticable in the warmer areas of CA, where air conditioning loads drive daytime usage.

Assembly Bill 1714 gave the CPUC the authority to delay the TOU requirement of SB1. They suspended it effective June 7, 2007 and will delay further implementation of it until after the new TOU rates are developed for 2009.

My guess is that most of the unhappiness was associated with the TOU rates and that has been changed.
52 Posts
Jun 29, 2007 04:17 pm
Re: California: 2007 CEC Rebate Changes

It's been hard to find full coverage of what's been going on with the changes. Do you know of any organizations in California that are lobbying on behalf of solar electricity producers?

I just checked out this site:

I've also heard that utilities can now charge customers with grid tie an administrative fee every month for having a bi-directional meter. I've also heard that customers can install there own meter to avoid this fee. I would like to be able to offer a meter to my clients in California, but I'm still looking into the regulations and looking for the correct meter to offer. If anyone has there own meter that has been approved by their utility company please let me know.   
351 Posts
Jun 29, 2007 07:37 pm
Re: California: 2007 CEC Rebate Changes

There are a number of solar industry associations. They do lobby for producers, when the two interests align. I am not aware of a solar homeowners association. Here are 2 of the industry associations.
California Solar Energy Industries Association
Northern California Solar Energy Association

You should probably contact PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E directly to inquire about what meters they approve, and what their meter charges are. The big 3 do not always agree on things. Muni’s can also go their own way, but they will usually be in line with one of the big 3.

I think that the “bi-direction meter charge” you are referring to, may actually be a TOU meter charge.   In the PG&E service area, the standard non-TOU meter has been a bi-directional meter for many years.  Many solar systems have been installed on those meters with no additional charges.

Meter charges have been associated with TOU rates (no solar)since the beginning of TOU rates about 15 years ago, or so. (Despite the availability of TOU rates, only a very small percentage of residential customers have switched over to them.) There is a one time upfront charge for the meter (Less than $300, the last I knew).
In addition, there are DAILY meter charge rates. I assume that they are for the data handling costs and data links.  (Hundreds of meter readings to be stored and calc’ed each  month vs one). The actual charge varies with the particular rate schedule you are on, ranging from about 5-40 cents a day.  Supplying your own meter would not avoid these charges.

I am not sure if a residential customer can supply their own meter.  The customer furnished meter situations I was involved with, were on an industrial scale, not residential.  In those cases the customer was buying the meter and associated equipment and supplying it to the utility, to avoid the utility overhead costs.  (The utility became the owner of the metering equipment, even though it was customer supplied.)
After SB1, the customers (with solar) would have to switch their standard bi-directional meters for a bi-directional TOU meter, incurring both the one time charge for the meter and the daily meter charges.

My understanding of the current situation (post June 7), is that it is customer optional as to whether they go net metering with their standard meter, or go TOU per SB1 and incur the meter charges.  My hope is that it stays that way in the future.

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