The California Public Utilities Commission delivered a major win for rooftop solar and a serious blow to the utility industry Tuesday, proposing to leave mostly in place a program that encourages homes and businesses to go solar.
Southern California Edison and other utilities lobbied the commission to slash the rates at which solar customers are paid for the electricity they generate, and to approve new monthly charges. Under Edison's proposal, the average solar customer would have seen her or his monthly bill increase from $65 to $135 — a difference of more than $800 per year.
Clean energy advocates feared the commission would back the utility industries' proposals, as it has in the past. But Commission President Michael Picker didn't give the utilities what they wanted, rejecting new monthly fees and demand charges. Solar customers would continue to be paid for their excess generation at full retail rates under his proposed decision.
“Gov. Brown’s (utilities commission) is standing up for clean power and for customers by proposing to reject the utilities’ attempts to make solar out of reach for customers,” Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a statement.