On May 24, 2012 the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved an order clarifying the calculation of the statutory limit on Net Energy Metering. This popular program allows customers’ meters to run backwards, earning them a full rate credit when their rooftop solar installations generate more energy than the customers use on site.
This clarification was promoted by the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), the national trade association of solar panel manufacturers and a Goodin, MacBride client. Goodin MacBride partners Michael Day and Jeanne Armstrong represented SEIA in the CPUC proceedings to clarify the NEM calculations. Goodin MacBride was able to demonstrate that the utilities used inconsistent methodologies for calculating the cap, and tended to restrict the allowable number of net metering customers through their selection of inputs to the calculation.
The clarification of the methodology means that customers will be able to continue installing new photovoltaic solar systems for years longer in some utility service territories before the limit of 5% of aggregate customer peak demand is reached. The success of the California Solar Initiative in promoting new rooftop solar has lead more than 100,000 customers to install solar, with a total capacity of over 1 Gigawatt, while the price of solar systems has continued to decline. The decision has been hailed in the press as a major victory for the photovoltaic solar industry, and reflects the continued strong support of the Brown administration and the CPUC for renewable energy programs in California.