SAN FRANCISCO – Millions of California residents could soon no longer be able to afford to install rooftop solar panels and reap the financial and environmental benefits that come with the renewable source of energy, if regulators side with PG&E and investor-owned electric utilities in the state to quash the popular program.
On Monday, the Administrative Law Judge’s, or ALJ’s, issued a proposed decision in the proceeding that would severely undervalue solar for homeowners and small businesses who sell back to the electricity grid surplus energy generated from their rooftop solar panels, a practice known as net metering.
The proposed decision also supports an egregiously high monthly charge on customers’ solar systems, which is equivalent to a tax on California ratepayers who already pay some of the highest monthly electricity bills in the nation.
The California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, could hear the proposal at its January 27, 2022 Business Meeting, at the earliest.
The new proposed fee on ratepayers would be, on average, more than $50 a month.
“This decision by the commission to hobble rooftop solar could undo one of the nation’s most successful efforts to confront the climate crisis and move California to an electric grid powered by renewable energy,” said EWG President and California resident Ken Cook.
“Regulators’ caving to the demands of PG&E and the other investor-owned utilities in the state speaks volumes about their disregard for protecting ratepayers and their willingness to ignore the existential threat we face from global warming,” Cook said.
“Millions of people in the state suffered through another horrific summer of destruction during the Dixie Fire as a result of PG&E’s reckless indifference when it comes to the safety of the state’s people and their property,” Cook added. “And now the CPUC rewards that behavior by helping PG&E crush the state’s rooftop solar program in a brazen and deceitful plot to increase profits for investors.”
Cook and EWG officially intervened in the proceeding before the CPUC last summer, urging regulators to reject the proposal by PG&E and the other power companies.
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.