Tag Archives: Policy & Regulation

SDG&E looks to raise minimum bill 400%, citing solar-driven cost shift

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • San Diego Gas & Electric earlier this summer said it wants to raise its minimum bills by almost 400%, along with a $10 fixed charge, a move the utility says is necessary to combat the $420 million annual cost shift between residential customers with and without solar panels.
  • By next spring, the utility wants to raise the minimum bill to $1.26/day, or $38.19 per bill based on a 30-day billing cycle, effective March 1, 2020. Some vulnerable groups of customers would be eligible for a 50% discount on the minimum bill, according to SDG&E.
  • Several groups want to keep the minimum bill where it is, around $10, with no fixed charge. According to The Utility Reform Network (TURN), a minimum bill charge should be crafted so that customers with lower usage don’t wind up paying higher bills.

Dive Insight:

As California adds more renewable and ​distributed energy, SDG&E told the state’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that its proposal for a “modest” fixed charge for all residential customers “is a critical first step toward an evolving rate design.”

“For the California utilities to continue to evolve to provide the services that the commission and customers want, then all customers who use and benefit from the grid will need to start to share in the cost of building, maintaining and operating it,” SDG&E said in its June testimony.

That means rates that allow for a fixed charge to recover fixed costs from all customers, according to the utility. “The antiquated rate design model of recovering fixed costs in volumetric rates is no longer a viable option that can promote fairness to all customers.”

SDG&E says its work to overhaul rates is consistent with 2013 legislation that required utilities to reduce the number of energy pricing tiers, incorporate time-of-use pricing, allow for a fixed charge of up to $10/month and “provide solutions to the increasing cost burden on customers who do not have private rooftop solar.”

Read full article from Utility Dive

Related Article: San Diego Gas and Electric looks to quadruple customers’ minimum monthly bill (PV Magazine) – Sept. 3, 2019

 

California agencies meet to begin charting course to 100% renewable energy

By Mark Anderson, The Sacramento Business Journal

The first-ever joint meeting of California agencies that will draw the path to a zero-carbon future met in Sacramento to start planning for the state’s 100% renewable goal by 2045.

The meeting included the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission and the California Air Resources Board, which are all tasked to meet the ambitious goals of 2018’s Senate Bill 100, which mandates that California use renewable resources to supply 100% of its electricity by the end of 2045.

The purpose of the meeting was to make sure that the different agencies are not working in silos, said Alice Reynolds, senior adviser on energy for Gov. Gavin Newsom. “We want to build an integrated plan,” she said. “To bring ambition to action.”

She said the state doesn’t have all the answers now for what will be an “incredibly difficult task,” adding that the state likely won’t have the answers when the agencies’ first report on progress is due next summer. “We’re not planning for the world as it is now. We are planning for the future,” Reynolds said. Temperatures may be higher then, requiring more air conditioning.

Still, commissioners expressed confidence that the effort won’t be damaging to California’s economy. “As we are seeing with coal, rolling back environmental standards doesn’t create jobs,” said Liane Randolph, a commissioner with the California Public Utilities Commission.

California’s previous mandates for renewable energy have created jobs, said Andrew McAllister, a commissioner with the California Energy Commission. He said the state has created 80,000 solar energy jobs and 100,000 jobs in energy efficiency.

Read full article in the Sacramento Business Journal

 

Should all houses in SLO switch to electric appliances? These experts think so

By Nick Wilson, The San Luis Obispo Tribune

What would it be like to live in a home that uses all electric appliances?

A panel of experts who spoke Thursday at an event hosted by the SLO Climate Coalition at the SLO library touched on questions around cost, safety and the ability of the grid to handle a transition from gas to electrically-powered homes.

The discussion comes in advance of a planned SLO City Council meeting Sept. 3 when a new policy around energy requirements for constructing new homes will be considered. The proposed changes to building codes would incentivize electrification by allowing construction with all-electric appliances to meet minimum state standards.

If the new policy is approved, those who choose to construct gas-powered systems would have to retrofit existing buildings to electric appliance systems or pay an in-lieu fee that will be used for the same purpose, according to city officials.

A panel of four state building and energy experts said they believe a transition to electrification is inevitable given California’s target of carbon neutrality in 2045. It makes good sense, they said, to start planning for a future in which communities will be faced with finding ways to reduce as much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as possible — a significant portion of those emissions now coming from use of gas appliances in homes.

Read full article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune

Opinion: An uncertain path to a cleaner future – Zero carbon electricity legislation in New York and California

By Thomas R. Brill & Steven C. Russo (Greenberg Traurig), Utility Dive

Last month, New York passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which calls for a carbon free electricity market by 2040. With passage of this law, New York became the sixth state to pass legislation calling for a carbon free electricity market. Just one year earlier, California passed similar legislation, SB100, adopting a state policy to achieve a zero-carbon electricity market by 2045.

These goals will have to be pursued notwithstanding the fact demand for electricity is projected to increase as other sectors pursue beneficial electrification to comply with ambitious emission reduction goals they face. Whether these goals can be achieved, and at what cost, will depend on technology advancements and how these laws are interpreted and implemented by regulators.

New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires 70% of electricity consumed in New York be generated by renewable resources by 2030 and the state must be carbon free by 2040. California’s SB100 requires 60% of electricity come from renewable resources by 2030 and adopts a state policy of a 100% zero carbon electricity by 2045.

The New York legislation explicitly conditions meeting these extraordinarily ambitious renewable energy mandates on maintaining reliability and affordability. This leads to obvious questions: Can a zero-carbon electricity market be achieved in a manner that maintains reliability and affordability, and if so, how? What flexibility exists under these laws to ensure these emission reduction goals can be achieved even if new technologies or significant price declines fail to materialize?

Read full article from Utility Dive

Solar is coming to all new California homes. How many in Fresno already get power from sun?

By Tim Sheehan, The Fresno Bee

More than 1 million California homes are already soaking up sunshine with solar panels to generate electricity. Next year, that number will surge as new building standards take effect requiring all new homes permitted after Jan. 1 to have solar photovoltaic systems.

In Fresno, which already has the third-highest number of homes in California with rooftop solar panels, the number continues to grow even before the new California Energy Commission standards take full effect. Through the first six months of 2019, the city issued permits for more than 1,640 residential solar systems as additions or alterations to existing homes. That doesn’t count solar panels that home builders or developers are already offering as a feature on new homes.

As of June 30, more than 23,300 Fresno homes had solar systems in operation under the state’s Net Energy Metering (NEM) program. That’s third behind only San Diego and Bakersfield among California cities, according to data from Go Solar California. The total electrical output capacity of Fresno’s residential solar panel systems amounted to almost 148,700 kilowatts of direct current (DC) power. That’s about 144,000 kilowatts of alternating current or AC electricity after it’s converted from DC.

Fresno also has another 1,742 homes with solar installed from 2007 through 2017 under the older California Solar Initiative program.

Read full article in the Fresno Bee

Distributed residential solar+storage takes a seat at the adult table

By John Weaver, pv magazine

We should thank Sunrun for continuing to break new ground, and for investing company resources in moving the industry forward. Now the industry has a new precedent that it will build upon; it has a piece of confidence to carry. And residential solar+storage is soon to be a fundamental building block of the Eastern Interconnection – argued to be the largest machine on the planet.

Sunrun has won a bid for 20 MW to participate in ISO New England’s 2022-2023 Forward Capacity Market. The bid means that Sunrun will be required to offer to the broader power grid 20 MW of power, 24 hours day for the single year period. The company will be paid $3.80/kW/month – totaling $76,000/mo, and $912,000 for the full year contract.

Sunrun notes that the capacity will be made possible by its Brightbox energy storage product line. Currently, this product is an LG Chem RESU. LG’s 48-volt battery comes with 3.3, 6.5 and 9.8 kilowatt-hour (kWh) ratings, and its 400-volt batteries offer 7.0 and 9.8 kWh ratings. Both AC- and DC-coupled versions are available. Sunrun noted they would need about 5,000 New England customers to meet the requirement – which would suggest somewhere between.

…This announcement comes of the heels of two very significant recent legislative victories for solar+storage. First, California is allowing DC coupled solar+storage to participate in net metering. And second, Massachusetts just ruled that energy storage that is in the SMART program has the right to sell its own energy into these same forward capacity markets that Sunrun just bid on. Sunrun was part of the negotiations with Massachusetts to push this legislation through.

Read full article from pv magazine

 

Brown Signs “Sun Shine at Night” Bill

Sacramento – With the Global Climate Action Summit in the rearview mirror, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 700 by Senator Scott Wiener (D-SF) keeping California in the driver’s seat of building a reliable and safe clean energy future.

“If we are going to get to 100% clean energy, we need to be using solar power every hour of the day, not just when the sun is shining,” said Senator Scott Wiener, author of SB 700. “This bill will protect clean energy jobs while also protecting consumers from ever rising energy bills.”

SB 700 will make the “sun shine at night” through the addition of hundreds of thousands of energy storage devices and batteries connected to hundreds of thousands of solar panels over the next 8-10 years. Energy storage is a critical technological partner in the widescale deployment of renewable energy. SB 700 will result in nearly three gigawatts of energy storage systems at schools, farms, homes, nonprofits and businesses in California by 2026 that will benefit consumers, ratepayers and the environment. The resulting program would be on par with the highly successful Million Solar Roofs Initiative launched back in 2006.

SB 700 re-authorizes the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) for five years, extending rebates for consumers through 2025. It would add up to $800 million for storage and other emerging clean energy technologies, resulting in a total investment of $1.2 billion for customer sited energy storage. Boosting energy storage will help California achieve its goal of generating 100% of its electricity from renewable resources, as called for in SB 100 (de Leon), which was signed into law on September 10th. A summary of SB 700 with more details about the SGIP program can be found here.

Read full press release from the California Solar & Storage Association

Related Article: California Passes Bill to Extend $800M in Incentives for Behind-the-Meter Batteries (Greentech Media) – Aug. 31, 2018

Gov. Jerry Brown’s carbon-free legacy to require financial sacrifices

By Dan Walters, CalMatters

Jerry Brown publicly denies harboring thoughts of the legacy of his record 16 years as California’s governor.

When a reporter asked Brown about it in January, Brown replied, with a characteristic smirk, “Can you tell me the legacy of Goodwin Knight? Or Gov. (Frank) Merriam? Or (George) Deukmejian? Governors don’t have legacies. That’s my No. 1 proposition.”

Brown pointedly excluded his father, Pat Brown, from his list of legacy-bereft predecessors. And it’s quite obvious that Brown yearns to match his father by being remembered as the governor who made California — at least in his mind — a global leader in fighting climate change through reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. will be 100 percent from renewable or carbon-free sources by 2045.

Just before hosting a global climate-change conference in San Francisco last week, Brown signed a bill decreeing that California’s electrical energy will be 100 percent from renewable or carbon-free sources by 2045. Simultaneously, he issued an executive order that California be “carbon neutral” by the same date.

“This bill and the executive order put California on a path to meet the goals of Paris and beyond,” Brown declared, referring to the international climate agreement. “It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 100 by state Sen. (and U.S. Senate candidate) Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat, expands the current 2030 goal for electric power of 60 percent. Both pieces of state paper, however, are more statements of lofty intent than quantifiable policy.

Read full opinion article by Dan Walters

 

World-Renowned Scientists: California Must Operate on 100 Percent Clean Electricity

OAKLAND, Calif. —Amid a summer of record-setting heat and wildfires exacerbated by climate change, 37 scientists signed a letter published today in the Sacramento Bee, calling on state legislators to pass Senate Bill 100, the “100 Percent Clean Energy Act of 2018.” The signers include world-renowned experts in climate, water, energy and health, including Gretchen Daily, the director of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford; Alex Hall, the director of the Center for Climate Science at the University of California Los Angeles; James McCarthy, past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Mario Molina, recipient of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering that chlorofluorocarbon gases were threatening the ozone hole; and Benjamin Santer, a National Academy of Sciences member.

The California Legislature is likely to vote this month on the bill, which would set a goal that all of California’s electricity come from carbon-free resources by 2045. Representatives from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) presented the letter to state legislators today. 

…Last month, the state announced it had reached another key goal—cutting carbon emissions back to 1990 levels—four years ahead of schedule. The goal had been set for 2020 but was achieved in 2016. California investor-owned utilities are on track to reach a 50 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2030, also ahead of schedule. 

According to the letter, “clean energy is among the most urgent solutions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” SB 100 would accelerate California’s RPS to 60 percent by 2030 and allow for flexibility in how the remaining 40 percent of electricity is supplied. In 2017, California received about 29 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, such as solar and wind, and another 24 percent came from a combination of nuclear and large hydropower, both of which are carbon-free. 

Read full press release from the Union of Concerned Scientists

 

Opinion: The Phony Numbers Behind California’s Solar Mandate

By Steve Sexton, The Wall Street Journal

California’s energy regulators effectively cooked the books to justify their recent command that all homes built in the Golden State after 2020 be equipped with solar panels. Far from a boon to homeowners, the costs to builders and home buyers will likely far exceed the benefits to the state.

The California Energy Commission, which approved the rule as part of new energy-efficiency regulations, didn’t conduct an objective, independent investigation of the policy’s effects. Instead it relied on economic analysis from the consultancy that proposed the policy, Energy and Environmental Economics Inc. Its study concluded that home buyers get a 100% investment return—paying $40 more in monthly mortgage costs but saving $80 a month on electricity. If it’s such a good deal, why aren’t home buyers clamoring for more panels already? Most new homes aren’t built with solar panels today, even though the state is saturated by solar marketing.

The Energy Commission is too optimistic about the cost of panels. It assumes the cost was $2.93 a watt in 2016 and will decline 17% by 2020. Yet comprehensive analysis of panel costs by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated the average cost of installed panels to be $4.50 a watt for the 2- to 4-kilowatt systems the policy mandates. That is $4,000 more than regulators claim for a 2.6-kilowatt model system in the central part of the state, where 20% of new homes are expected to be built. Berkeley Lab further estimates that costs fell a mere 1% between 2015 and 2016, far short of the 4% average annual decline the regulators predict.

Now consider the alleged savings on energy bills. The commission’s analysis assumes California will maintain its net energy-metering policy, which effectively subsidizes electricity produced by a rooftop solar panel…

Read full op-ed in the Wall Street Journal