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California energy bill may affect millions of customers, solar users

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According to a FuelFix article, it was reported that “California is close to passing a sweeping overhaul of its energy regulations that could affect electrical rates for millions of customers and rewrite rules on solar power usage.”

This was a long time in the making and is an unfortunate display of making laws to encourage a particular technology being used only to look back and apply charges for those who invested in such technologies.

The problem is that the original rate making that initiated the residential tiered rate structure was flawed and lawmakers waited too long to fix the problem. Now they are scrambling to attempt to reduce the subsidization that is and has been occurring with the rate structures. This is not the fault of customers who are making economic decisions based on the current status of their electric bills. No doubt that parity was going to be brought to rates for residential customers - specifically, where the rates for higher users were so high that solar investments make great sense economically and the consumers using less power who were paying below market rates for the last 10 years. The authority under this bill is acceptable and allows the CPUC to be authorized to make rate changes as they see fit, which is the job of the regulator; rate making should never be done at legislature.

The issue here is the potential ramifications to customers who were making investments and decisions under one economic regime and now that regime could change. I am confident that the CPUC supports solar investment by all customer types, so believe that when they address the rate changes as authorized by this bill, that they will do so in a manner that does not impede on the great investments being made in renewables, such as solar in this instance, by California customers. After all, this is the goal that California has set to achieve through their aggressive renewable targets.

Posted: September 12, 2013