San Diego to transition to net metering 2.0

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Last fall, San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) predicted that it would hit the caps on the state’s net metering program in the summer of 2016. The utility’s prediction appears to be spot on, as on Wednesday SDG&E reported hitting its cap, during the second week of summer.

This means that the utility’s residential and commercial customers who want to install rooftop grid-tied PV systems will now be transitioned to the successor program approved by California regulators in January, which has been dubbed “Net Metering 2.0”.

SDG&E is the first of the state’s three large investor-owned utilities to make this switch, and reports that 90,000 of its customers have already installed rooftop solar. PG&E and SCE, the state’s other two large utilities, will transition no later than July 2017.

Net metering 2.0 does not look terribly different from the original net metering arrangement. Customers will still receive retail-rate credits for surplus electricity from their PV systems, only now they will subtract roughly $0.02 per kilowatt-hour in “non-bypassable charges” from this rate.

PV system owners will also transition to time-of-use rates, and other than projects in low-income housing, new customers they will need to pay a $150 application fee. Customers who installed solar under the original program will be “grandfathered” in for 20 years.

At the time the program passed, California Solar Energy Industries Association (CalSEIA) expressed the most concern over time-of-use rates, but solar advocates generally described the final program design as a very positive outcome for solar in the state.

Along with leading in distributed generation, SDG&E was recently ranked as the top utility in the United States for renewable energy deployment overall, at 36% of total sales. The company expects to exceed 40% by 2018.