Tom and Mary Roberts
There are no plans to raise rates for rooftop solar users, SDG&E spokeswoman Stephanie Donovan said in a July 30 interview.
"There is nothing in the current proposed rate design," she said.
The prospect of a possible rate increase concerned some residents who attended a presentation by Pedro Villegas, SDG&E director of community relations, at the July 25 Del Cerro Action Council meeting.
“No one is off the grid," said Villegas at the meeting. SDG&E "brought power to you at [times like] night and in the early morning. The problem is the bundle rate. We can't have a 2001 rate system for 2013 technology. We proposed a fixed-rate system for solar."
Mary Roberts said installing photovoltaic solar panels caused her monthly bill to drop from $250 to $17. However, a rate change for solar users "defeated the purpose," she said.
Mary and her husband Tom installed 22 solar arrays in November 2010. A monitor in the house indicated the panels generated 23,382 megawatt hours of electricity since 2010 and a daily total of 13.8 kilowatt hours by 1 p.m. on July 30. The Robertses installed photovoltaic panels after a friend working for a solar company said they would pay "$25,000 to $30,000 to SDG&E over the next ten years," Tom said.
Mary said the amount of electricity supplied by SDG&E "is minimal. They want my solar for free; they want my energy for free. They pay for transmission whether it's from my house or Arizona."
Donovan clarified Villegas’s statement that was heard by Mary Roberts at the meeting, saying that while the system is "outdated, there is no [flat-rate] proposal at this time. About two to three years ago, there was."
Furthermore, Don Bauder wrote in the Reader on July 3 that SDG&E last year "wanted to charge solar users substantially more for their connection to the distribution grid. The [Public Utilities] commission nixed the idea."
According to Donovan, the SDG&E service area is the "densest in the nation" in terms of rooftop solar. By the end of June, there were 25,032 solar users. The total included 604 new solar customers. Businesses accounted for about 1000 solar users. The net energy generated was 184 megawatts, with 50 percent produced by residences and 50 percent by businesses.
Donovan said solar may not be practical for renters and those who don't have south-facing roofs. SDG&E is seeking commission approval for a pilot program that would allow people to purchase electricity from solar projects in the service area.
(Revised 7:45am 8/1)