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California Utilities Plan All Out War On Solar, Please Read And Help

gene

Supporting Member
Feb 11, 2013
2,207
11,580
Santa Barbara, CA
I am hoping this can be a sticky thread, so many of us are from California and what happens in California may spread across the country. This fight will last most of the year so a sticky thread would be very nice. The California investor owned utilities are lobbying heavily for NEM 3.0. This will include high monthly fees for solar owners and to top that off, every month will be a true-up month. This means you can not apply your high productions summer months as credit against your low production winter months. The monthly fees will pretty much sink solar in California. California's Public Utility Commission is made of 5 members. Three of them are in the middle "on the fence", one is leaning towards the utilities, and one is heavily pro utility. There is not a single member of the CPUC that is a champion for rooftop solar! For us, the CPUC is not going to be our friend. Gavin Newsome is our only possible chance here.

We have just a few months to have people contact Gavin Newsome. Governor Newsome is our best hope to prevent this new, nightmare NEM 3 from becoming a reality.

There are good guys and bad guys in this fight.

Here are the utility coerced or funded bad guys, this website full of misinformation: Fix The Cost Shift

Please visit: Here are the good guys where you can help out as well as be informed: Save California Solar

Please visit: More good guys here: Stand up for your right to make energy from the sun!

The utilities are asking for these new fees to be retroactive, if this happens your grandfathered rates will be threatened.

Just released a few days ago are these new proposed fees by the utilities:

Screen Shot 2021-03-18 at 12.09.49 PM.png
 

nativewolf

Member
Jul 21, 2015
662
1,257
viena va United States
I don't get why single family home owners just don't buy a few more powerwalls and cut the cord. Anyway, how do the municipal owned utilities feel? Like the various irrigation districts, eastside, trinity, smud, etc.
 

gene

Supporting Member
Feb 11, 2013
2,207
11,580
Santa Barbara, CA
I don't get why single family home owners just don't buy a few more powerwalls and cut the cord. Anyway, how do the municipal owned utilities feel? Like the various irrigation districts, eastside, trinity, smud, etc.
I don't know about the others but Sacramento's utility, SMUD, has been fighting California's mandate that states all new houses starting in 2020 must have solar on them. SMUD has been fighting rooftop solar since forever.
 
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gene

Supporting Member
Feb 11, 2013
2,207
11,580
Santa Barbara, CA
This is a video of David Rosenfeld of Solar Rights Alliance that lays out the California situation clearly:

 

BMW740iL

Active Member
Nov 9, 2019
1,019
424
Amsterdam
Why do you not want to pay your fair share for using the infrastructure? Your complaint reads like you have been spoiled too long getting freebies that your fellow countrymen have been paying for on their utility bills. If you think the service is overpriced get yourself a Powerwall as the gentleman in post #2 is suggesting and cut the cord.
 
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Bet TSLA

Active Member
Dec 8, 2014
2,824
10,332
Cupertino, CA
The California PUC is not going to be our savior. As you can see we do not have a single champion on our side. If only one of the three "on the fence" commissioners move to the right and support the utilities, then we are screwed here.

It comes down to the fact that we need Gavin Newsome to be on our side on this issue.

View attachment 645918
If you think the support of Gavin Newsom is important, you might want to start by showing him the respect of spelling his name right.
 

mickle

Member
Apr 30, 2019
174
2,290
California
Why do you not want to pay your fair share for using the infrastructure? Your complaint reads like you have been spoiled too long getting freebies that your fellow countrymen have been paying for on their utility bills. If you think the service is overpriced get yourself a Powerwall as the gentleman in post #2 is suggesting and cut the cord.
I wonder how much advantage solar owners provide to the grid, and are they not being valued correctly.

I'd suggest an experimental Solar Power Owners day, one hot day in California, where all solar owners turn off their systems, and we see what effect it has on the grid. We'd be a more powerful lobby if we can all work together and demonstrate how much our systems help the grid.
 

gene

Supporting Member
Feb 11, 2013
2,207
11,580
Santa Barbara, CA
Why do you not want to pay your fair share for using the infrastructure? Your complaint reads like you have been spoiled too long getting freebies that your fellow countrymen have been paying for on their utility bills. If you think the service is overpriced get yourself a Powerwall as the gentleman in post #2 is suggesting and cut the cord.
I'd like to address your questions.

Your understanding of the situation is understandable as the utilities have spent a lot of money over the years to make the impression that rooftop solar is an expense to the grid and a liability. They have hooked you and gotten their money's worth. The reality is that the utilities' greatest expense is transmission lines, many of them those huge towers traveling across public lands. When a house has solar on it, there is no transmission required, better yet, over production of a solar system travels the path of least resistance right through the neighboring house's meter (making transmission free, high net profit for the utility) and into the home's consumption. So you ask about infrastructure? We solar owners ARE infrastructure!

You ask about "service", I think you mean fees? The proposed fees of $59/month to $86/month connection fees is more than what some solar owner's electric bill were before they bought solar and in most other cases renders the installation of solar a no-go. These fees are off the charts and designed to completely end any further solar implementation. How about those fees to school districts $950 to $3400/mo?

Lastly, the battery helps with daily net metering, that's it. It does not solve outrageous fees nor the fact that the true-up of over/under production becomes monthly rather than annual.

These utilities are investor owned and have had a policy of pushing for ever higher profits since their inception. They do not lobby for policy for the good of the public.
 
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gene

Supporting Member
Feb 11, 2013
2,207
11,580
Santa Barbara, CA
I wonder how much advantage solar owners provide to the grid, and are they not being valued correctly.

I'd suggest an experimental Solar Power Owners day, one hot day in California, where all solar owners turn off their systems, and we see what effect it has on the grid. We'd be a more powerful lobby if we can all work together and demonstrate how much our systems help the grid.
We do know the production of solar in the state on a daily basis and it's contribution is substantial. Something like your suggestion, which is now being implemented for real life data, is a program to understand the positive impact that home batteries have on the grid. My home batteries and 5,999 (that makes 6,000) are in a several year VPP (virtual power plant) program which is being managed by Swell Energy of Santa Monica, CA. Swell energy manages the batteries to discharge during the peak hours for all days of the month except 3 random days of each month in which the batteries will not be utilized at all. Data will be compiled on the effects to the grid in order to understand the benefits of the batteries for all users of the grid in California. This data is very useful as the state is requiring closure of the dirty and expensive peaker plants that the utilities tend to favor. The State of California can use this data to make informed decisions for the future of our grid. If you are a solar owner with one or more batteries and you live in LA, Ventura, or Santa Barbara counties, you can contact James Louis of Swell Energy for more info.
 
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iollmann

Member
Mar 19, 2021
6
12
Santa Cruz Mountains
I don't get why single family home owners just don't buy a few more powerwalls and cut the cord. Anyway, how do the municipal owned utilities feel? Like the various irrigation districts, eastside, trinity, smud, etc.
Solar production swings day by day. So, you'd need a couple of days worth of storage for the summer months. In the winter, you probably won't be able to keep up with usage, because solar production is so much lower. If you ramp up production with more panels, you will be producing 5x more solar than you need in the summer. It would be better if that energy had somewhere to go, rather than being wasted because the home is not on grid. No amount of battery is going to let you store excess power from the summer to the winter. The batteries lose maybe 1% of charge each day on temperature regulation.

The cost sharing to the poor is only occurring because the electric companies are not putting into place programs to ensure the excess costs are not offloaded to the poor.
 

nativewolf

Member
Jul 21, 2015
662
1,257
viena va United States
Why don't the solar advocates just join together and buyout one of the bankrupt producers? I mean tsla kicks in 5 billion, advocates kick in 5 etc and then take over PGE or whatever and go whole hog on solar rooftop ?

I guess I don't like all the politics of it yet I don't trust the utilities in CA. By comparison Dominion Power in VA is a model of a well functioning utility making an honest profit given the constraints and opportunities. Today VA has some 17GW of solar farms planned, the state plans to be all renewable pretty soon (2035 or something like that) and our grid is not falling apart or causing catastrophic, deadly, wildfires. We'll still have some nukes operating (maybe 5GW) but the 17 GW of planned farms would completely replace all the fossil fuel production in the state and then some. I am guessing some won't get built. Dominion is no advocate of rooftop solar, to be honest I guess they see that as a slippery slope to being irrelevant. So they compromised by agreeing to allow non Dominion entities to provide power and the applications for utility scale power have poured in. Farmers are getting rich renting out poorly thought out pine plantations and marginal farmland as solar farms. So, we don't have a great story for you but the utility is not so terrible like the various CA entities.

So to me I'd burn down the utility ownership. Clearly it is poor. I'd start again with a fresh leadership team, I'd fire every single person in the top 3 layers. Every single one. The culture is terrible there and that starts at the top. Once a new leadership team is in the work would have to go into fixing things. The state would have to agree to help take on obligations such as assume stranded asset costs and pensions associated with them. The utilities built those with the understanding they would be the basis of rate payments. Those contracts should just be eliminated and rooftop allowed as a replacement as so much of CA is densely populated and a long long way from the cheap land to the population zones. On the other hand, you could also remove marginal irrigated lands and replace irrigation with solar farms and solve two CA problems with one bullet. Solar farms don't need to be irrigated. You are killing your streams and causing massive subsidence to support unsustainable irrigation. Buyout an irrigation district and do the solar farms there.
 
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iollmann

Member
Mar 19, 2021
6
12
Santa Cruz Mountains
Why do you not want to pay your fair share for using the infrastructure? Your complaint reads like you have been spoiled too long getting freebies that your fellow countrymen have been paying for on their utility bills. If you think the service is overpriced get yourself a Powerwall as the gentleman in post #2 is suggesting and cut the cord.
Powerwalls are not sufficient to cut the cord. You can't store energy from summer to low producing months. If you beef up your solar to produce sufficiently in the winter, then you will be wasting most of your energy in the summer, because it is far more than you can use. It would be better to let solar customers put that energy to use by putting excess onto the grid. Solar producers should not have to pay transmission costs when they put energy on the grid. Bulk energy producers don't pay for transmission, the consumer does. The fair share of utility costs for a solar producer is rather low. Likewise the year long true up is entirely appropriate. There is no great cost to having utilities run power stations seasonally. The seasonal demand swings are very predictable. Dollars can be stored for a year without appreciable loss.

The utilities' proposal goes too far. Frankly it's a cynical overreaching money grab designed to distract opponents who will have to work hard to remove the most onerous provisions, that many of the less onerous profitable provisions will stick. This should have been a good faith negotiation based on the needs of both parties.
 

Jackl1956

Active Member
May 11, 2013
1,813
11,835
Los Angeles
Full disclosure: I worked for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) from May of 2009 until my retirement in September of last year. Originally employed as an Electrical Mechanic; I constructed and maintained gas-fired generation plants, substations, transmission facilities, and distribution stations. I later became a solar power, energy storage, and EV charging station inspector.

Throughout my tenure at LADWP, I advocated sustainable transportation, renewable energy, and energy storage — creating a chasm between myself and many of my fellow workers.

I am pro-Union; my family and I have directly benefited from Union negotiated wages, benefits, and retirement plans. That said, Unions exist just as any other organization, with positive aspects including all of their warts, missteps, and corruption.

It is important to recognize not only regulatory capture; but also the confluence of utility management/supervision and Union influence—and how each contributes to bureaucratic corruption.

I am posting because I believe it is important to recognize all of the players in these matters, and their agendas.

Each of the California utilities is managed by a combination of management/Union influences.

Environmental Trickle-Down

Working as a solar inspector I was assigned to Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, and the Pacific Palisades. Over the years, I witnessed many of the wealthiest people in the world investing in solar energy, electric vehicles, and energy storage. While I have always taken umbrage at the conservative notion of “Trickle Down,” I am convinced that the rich and famous have played pivotal roles fighting climate change, certainly in my own anecdotal experience. I also believe they are a foundational resource in political fights; and this gentleman is a knife fight.
 

iollmann

Member
Mar 19, 2021
6
12
Santa Cruz Mountains
Why don't the solar advocates just join together and buyout one of the bankrupt producers? I mean tsla kicks in 5 billion, advocates kick in 5 etc and then take over PGE or whatever and go whole hog on solar rooftop ?

I guess I don't like all the politics of it yet I don't trust the utilities in CA. By comparison Dominion Power in VA is a model of a well functioning utility making an honest profit given the constraints and opportunities. Today VA has some 17GW of solar farms planned, the state plans to be all renewable pretty soon (2035 or something like that) and our grid is not falling apart or causing catastrophic, deadly, wildfires. We'll still have some nukes operating (maybe 5GW) but the 17 GW of planned farms would completely replace all the fossil fuel production in the state and then some. I am guessing some won't get built. Dominion is no advocate of rooftop solar, to be honest I guess they see that as a slippery slope to being irrelevant. So they compromised by agreeing to allow non Dominion entities to provide power and the applications for utility scale power have poured in. Farmers are getting rich renting out poorly thought out pine plantations and marginal farmland as solar farms. So, we don't have a great story for you but the utility is not so terrible like the various CA entities.

So to me I'd burn down the utility ownership. Clearly it is poor. I'd start again with a fresh leadership team, I'd fire every single person in the top 3 layers. Every single one. The culture is terrible there and that starts at the top. Once a new leadership team is in the work would have to go into fixing things. The state would have to agree to help take on obligations such as assume stranded asset costs and pensions associated with them. The utilities built those with the understanding they would be the basis of rate payments. Those contracts should just be eliminated and rooftop allowed as a replacement as so much of CA is densely populated and a long long way from the cheap land to the population zones. On the other hand, you could also remove marginal irrigated lands and replace irrigation with solar farms and solve two CA problems with one bullet. Solar farms don't need to be irrigated. You are killing your streams and causing massive subsidence to support unsustainable irrigation. Buyout an irrigation district and do the solar farms there.
The catastrophic deadly wildfires would occur in Virginia too, if it didn't get any rain from May - Nov. like California. Annual 6 months of drought has its problems! It is not a policy failure. It is a natural phenomenon. It is a difficult thing to manage, and should not be used as evidence of regulatory dysfunction.

That said, it should be well known to utilities by now that they need to keep their equipment in shape. The part that failed and caused the Paradise fires that killed so many was 90 years old. It had literally worn through 2 inches of iron swinging in the wind for so long. PG&E has been busy underfunding maintenance in order to divert funds to shareholders. Now it is in such rough shape that it seems to go bankrupt every 10 years. The right answer is just a state buyout and some public infrastructure bonds to get the grid rebuilt and some of it put underground.

What we definitely should not do is undermine the economics of home solar.
 

nwdiver

Well-Known Member
Feb 17, 2013
7,624
9,733
United States
Texas clearly has problems but I think how they divided up Generation, Transmission and Sales has merit. No single company can control all three. Texas has no net metering law but the parts of the state with choice are friendly to solar since there are several RSPs that offer full net metering. Not because of any PUC mandate but because they've seen the numbers and realize their costs go down if they can buy energy from some of their customers at $10/MWh on a hot summer afternoon. A vertically integrated monopoly would hate this. They ENJOY evening generation and transmission constraints because it gives them ammunition in the next rate case to rate base more infrastructure.
 

nativewolf

Member
Jul 21, 2015
662
1,257
viena va United States
The catastrophic deadly wildfires would occur in Virginia too, if it didn't get any rain from May - Nov. like California. Annual 6 months of drought has its problems! It is not a policy failure. It is a natural phenomenon. It is a difficult thing to manage, and should not be used as evidence of regulatory dysfunction.

That said, it should be well known to utilities by now that they need to keep their equipment in shape. The part that failed and caused the Paradise fires that killed so many was 90 years old. It had literally worn through 2 inches of iron swinging in the wind for so long. PG&E has been busy underfunding maintenance in order to divert funds to shareholders. Now it is in such rough shape that it seems to go bankrupt every 10 years. The right answer is just a state buyout and some public infrastructure bonds to get the grid rebuilt and some of it put underground.

What we definitely should not do is undermine the economics of home solar.
There are plenty of bad fires in VA just not caused by 90 year old transmission lines. I'll give VA credit for that at least. Also in VA we would be doing burning more aggressively on public lands if we had fire ecosystems. Lots of support here for burning trying to recreate savannah ecosystems that once covered the piedmont and coastal plains (and some pockets in the mountains). I agree with your POV re the solution-buyout. Then the question is how to reform that crapola culture.

In our business, sustainable forestry, we've learned that sometimes you just have to do it. Talking about it is pointless and self defeating. If we don't harvest sustainably than we can't count on anyone doing so; out we go with chainsaws and finnish harvesting equipment (and I am no spring chicken). I think this is a similar case, the people - the rate payers of CA should just get with it. I have to say that Dominion/VA seems a much nicer approach to the question of distribution (as flawed as it may be to some).
 
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iPlug

Member
Sep 14, 2019
481
693
Rocklin, CA
California Constitution, Article 12, Section 1:

The Public Utilities Commission consists of 5 members appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate, a majority of the membership concurring, for staggered 6-year terms... The Legislature may remove a member for incompetence, neglect of duty, or corruption, two thirds of the membership of each house concurring.

California Public Utilities Commission - Ballotpedia
 
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Jackl1956

Active Member
May 11, 2013
1,813
11,835
Los Angeles
This pissed me off; my Union dues went to support opposition to the Green New Deal; those funds supported the fossil fuel industry.

Transitioning from LADWP’s gas-fired generation to renewable energy makes great sense. IBEW Local Union 18’s opposition is Luddite; they argue for maintaining the status quo; they argue for stopping the evolution of technology.

Employment must evolve with technology or be lost—ask the coal miners of West Virginia.

 

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