Strange days in San Diego where solar is booming but a cynical move by the local utility, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), just might rain on their parade – and this despite record profits for the utility!
We came across two separate but related news stories today that raise red flags when it comes to how SDG&E views solar.
The first is a report from Solar Industry Magazine by Jessica Lillian titled, New Utility Rate Proposal in San Diego Could Hurt Booming PV Industry. Apparently, SDG&E is telling the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that solar customers “do not pay their fare share of the costs that SDG&E incurs to provide them service, including costs associated with the export of the customer’s generation to the distribution system.” What is their proposed solution? A “network use charge” so SDG&E can charge solar customers for every kWh they export out onto the grid! This despite the fact that SDG&E is essentially being subsidized by solar customers when they export energy that their neighbors can consume.
According to the article, when Daniel Sullivan of Sullivan Solar asked representatives of SDG&E what costs they had incurred to accommodate those exports, they admitted that the total was none.
As in zero, zilch, na da.
The CPUC will have the first crack at reining in this idiocy, but given how they handled the calculation of compensation under AB 920, it is hard to imagine that they will do better here in defending solar customers.
Of course, one might have some sympathy with SDG&E if they were bleeding money and needed to create additional revenue sources to stay afloat. Which brings us to today’s second news item. According to the Los Angeles Times (Business section, B5), the third quarter earnings of SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra Energy, more than doubled, “helped by higher revenue from [wait… for… it…] power generation.” The company earned $296 million dollars in the third quarter alone with revenue increasing by 22% to $2.58 billion. Clearly, SDG&E needs to stick it to solar customers.
It gets better.
Existing law prohibits utilities from imposing new charges exclusively on solar customers. So apparently SDG&E is imposing the network use charge on all of its customers – except that only solar customers will be affected since only they actually export energy!
I know for a fact that some members of the California legislature read this blog (thank you very much) – are you really going to let SDG&E get away with this?