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Stop The Utility Attack On Solar Producers

This petition had 1,112 supporters

A recent filing by investor owned utility, SDG&E, subsidiary of Sempra Energy, exposed solar producers’ vulnerability to drastic electricity rate restructuring. In SDG&E’s filing they proposed to increases certain charges paid by solar producers by over 600% while only increasing the same charge to non-solar producers by 52%. The filing by SDG&E would disproportionately increase costs to solar producers when compared to non-solar producers. 

In recent years, many entities have gone solar using financing mechanisms which amortize the cost of their investments over a period of as much as 25 years. The savings these entities realize on their electricity bills often times just barely offset the cost of the financing. By introducing drastic rate hikes on solar producers such as those contemplated by SDG&E, many times these entities’ investments will go upside down resulting in a solar producer having a total monthly cost greater than those who don’t have solar. Among the largest investors in solar technology in the State of California are school districts, water districts, and local governments. Drastic electricity rate fluctuations have the potential to derail this State’s renewable energy goals. .As a result of this filing by SDG&E many school districts and municipalities are cancelling their planned solar projects because the finances won't make sense anymore. Entities that have gone solar are bracing for a massive hit to their annual operating budgets. It is estimated that San Diego area schools will be impacted by more than a million dollars per year in increased electricity costs. If SDG&E succeeds in San Diego, the other utilities will follow suite. 

As of April 4th, 2012, there were over 110,000 solar projects totaling over 1,164 megawatts of solar capacity in California. This much solar capacity represents over $7,000,000,000.00 (seven billion dollars) in public and private investment in solar photovoltaic technology. Entities that invested in solar did so in response to the State’s policy objectives and with the expectation that their investments would have a secure investment horizon with utility rate structures that would remain relatively stable. Solar producers rely upon stable tariff rates and unstable rates for electrical service have the potential to defeat the state’s goal of encouraging continued private investments in renewable energy resources

We need to protect solar producers by making certain the utilities cannot target solar producers by increasing fees and charges on solar producers by percentages that are greater than those levied against non-solar producers.  Wildly fluctuating changes like those proposed by SDG&E destroy the economics and financial security of going solar. 

Fortunately, Senator Kehoe is introducing a Bill to prevent utilities from unfairly targeting solar producing schools, water districts and cities, among many others. The bill, SB1537, will prevent utilities by disproportionately raising rates on solar producers. Another bill, SB1165 by Senator Wright will allow schools to receive funds to pay for legal representation when utilities try to unfairly target them for going solar.

Ask our elected officials to support SB1537 and SB1165 to protect our growing solar industry, the working families employed within the industry, and those who have invested thousands upon thousands of dollars to help our region become more energy independent. All ratepayers will be adversely impacted through increased fees and decreased services from school districts, water districts and municipalities if utilities are allowed to change rates on solar producers whenever they see fit. Let SDG&E know that the People of California set our State's energy policies, not investor owned utilities.

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