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Representatives from SDG&E appeared at a county hearing on Tuesday to defend a proposal to increase solar rates for 15,000 customers. The energy company claims solar customers are not paying for the energy infrastructure, leaving non-solar customers to foot the bill.

If the state's public utilities commission approves the proposal, residential solar customers will pay an extra $23 dollars a month. For some local school districts and water agencies that have turned to solar to save money, their monthly bills could increase by thousands of dollars.

Solar customers aren't thrilled with the proposal and neither are some county lawmakers. Supervisors Pam Slater-Price and Dianne Jacob say the solar rate hike as proposed by SDG&E ignores the benefits of renewable energy and hurts the economy.

"This proposal is killing jobs as we speak. This proposal must be rejected by state regulators. SDG&E says solar customers are subsidizing non-solar customers. The truth is that solar customers give a lot more than they are getting. Under this proposal the more solar that a customer produces the more they will pay," said Supervisor Jacob.

J.C. Thomas, government and regulatory affairs manager for SDG&E, said the company is not looking to profit, only charge a fair price for use of the transmission network and to maintain the infrastructure. If the rate hike is not accepted, then non-solar customers will pay hundreds more a year for energy.

"We have to change the rates. We have to change our services. And, we have to change our infrastructure. If we don't fix it...solar will fail," said Thomas at Tuesday's board meeting.

But owners of solar panels say the company is only out for profits, that because they export energy into the grid and only travels a few hundred feet to neighboring homes then fees associated with use of the network should not apply.

More than a dozen speakers spoke out against the proposed "network use charge." A county staffer even stated the rate hike amounts to a $100,000 a year increase in energy costs at the East Mesa Detention Facility in Otay Mesa.

After allowing the public to weigh in, supervisors decided to participate in the state energy commission's hearings on the issue, to try and find a "fair rate scheme" for both SDG&E and their customers.

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Comments

aardvark Dec. 6, 2011 @ 9:11 p.m.

And you expected SDG&E to say, "oops, sorry, what were we thinking".

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GeorgeBoston Dec. 7, 2011 @ 4:06 a.m.

solar panes are the best alternative energy resource so far. I'm more than happy i had an oportunity to invest in a photovoltiac system 3 years ago. I went with a homemade well researched design that proved working flawless. I found construction plans on, http://nowtweet.it/6zr The money came back in a year and a half. There was nothing specific that i didn't understand. Everything was included in the construction instructions, i just had to go to the local hardware shop and buy all the parts and pieces. It cost me below 2.000$, and the system saved me double that amount so far. Don't hesitate to look deeper into these systems. If you have some basic knowledge in soldering and connecting wires than you can build it very easy.

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thacerro Dec. 7, 2011 @ 4:36 p.m.

Not out to make a profit? What a bunch of lies. This is a prime reason why public utilities should not be owned by private entities with stockholders to please. SDGE pays us solar users 4 cents per kilowatt for every extra kw we produce. It also pays all other producers of electricity only 4 cents per kw NO MATTER WHAT TIME OF DAY THEY BUY THE ELECTRICITY, but it sells that electricity for as much as 21 cents per kw to time of day users, which with smart meters we are all poised to become. They are making a fortune. Perhaps the more people who install solar the less electricity they sell at exorbitant rates as well as the more people conserve energy the less they sell. This is the number one reason that the money we pay towards energy conservation SHOULD NOT be going to SDGE to run the program. This program is totally in contradiction to their bottom line. A non-profit that has the mission to conserve energy should be running it. SDGE spends as much of the money as it can on staff and expenses. This whole garbage about paying for infrastructure solar users do not use is because SDGE is mad that the legislature informed them they must start paying those who over-produce for the excess energy they produce. SDGE wants that law changed. The dinosaur they are constructing at huge rate-payer expense-The Sunrise Powerlink is an example of how the utility builds unneeded infrastructure just so it can gouge more money out of rate payers. There are several large power lines that are under used coming into the state now and the more people and businesses installing solar and conserving the less need there is for out of area power. Sure killing the nascent solar industry in the state will help SDGE's bottom line. All they care about is profit. Cities and other government bodies need to start investigating taking over providing electricity to their citizens. This latest money grab should be the last! It is obvious that the future needs to be locally produced and locally used energy, not a grid that is very vulnerable to terrorists, accidents and all kinds of other nonsense which shuts off the power to huge numbers of people, instead of keeping any damage very localized.

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