Proposed Solar Fee

Schavrien writes, “The change is who pays for services solar customers now get free. The network use charge would help to ensure that all customers get what they pay for and pay for what they get.” Anyone who looks at my monthly bill can see that nothing is free for solar customers or anyone else. First, over a ten year history, I continue to pay about half of what I did before adding solar. Second, every nickel and dime you charge each customer for all the miscellaneous things to pad your bottom line – bond interest, transmission, distribution, nuclear decommissioning, etc. -- are there in my bill. So, drop all the talk about “free.” Schavrien writes, “Many solar customers think they’re ‘off the grid’ because they produce energy with rooftop PV.” Again, that’s a simple test for a solar customer. If he or she does not have batteries, s/he is on the grid. Many people considering solar probably don’t understand this, but those with existing solar installations almost certainly DO understand. It’s the height of arrogance to claim that your customers don’t understand these things. Schavrien writes, “The reality is they still need -- and use -- SDG&E’s electricity network to send their solar generation to the grid and to deliver power when their solar unit is not producing. Today, they pay nothing for this service. And, they don’t pay for the customer-assistance programs that are part of the ‘bundled’ rate all non-solar customers pay. Is that fair? We don’t think so. What’s fair is requiring all customers to pay on the same basis for the services they receive”. I’d like to invite Mr. Schavrien to view my bill and show me what I’m getting that’s supposedly “free.” Obviously SDG&E thinks very little of their 14,500 net energy metering suppliers. Yes, we are suppliers. We are suppliers who have the net metering law on our side! Tom Jones San Juan Capistrano
— November 2, 2011 4:47 p.m.

Proposed Solar Fee

I am an SDG&E customer and have a rooftop photovoltaic installation on my home. I take issue with a number of Lee Schavrien’s comments. Schavrien writes, “SDG&E does not buy energy from solar customers, and we don’t sell to others whatever energy solar customers produce but don’t use immediately.” Mr. Schavrien is implying that the excess energy I produce isn’t consumed or is simply given away. That’s absolutely untrue! The excess power produced by a solar customer is put to use by my neighbors. SDG&E bills my neighbor for it, at the going rate, but SDG&E did not produce or distribute that energy over their transmission lines. Schavrien writes, “Instead, that energy is credited to those solar customers who pay only for any kilowatt-hours they use net of what they generate”. Of course. Is Mr. Schavrien implying that this is somehow unfair? Schavrien writes, “Many solar marketers use the benefits of ‘net metering’ as a marketing tool, describing it as the equivalent of electricity storage.” That is technically correct. If a solar customer had a battery system to charge during the day and discharge at night then they would be “off the grid.” By the way, that’s the acid test for off-the-grid use, and SDG&E’s solar customers know that. But California’s net metering legislation allows solar customers to use the SDG&E grid as their battery. That’s good for everyone, including SDG&E, because it allows the utility to avoid brownouts during peak usage periods and, by keeping electric generation local, keeps traffic off the grid. Schavrien writes, “SDG&E also does not take in any more revenue as a result of the changes we’ve proposed.” If that were true, why would SDG&E even go to the trouble of making the change? SDG&E is a corporation and a monopoly. The idea that such an entity would care about fairness is laughable and counter to the corporate profit motive. This change is about profit, pure and simple. Continued in next post
— November 2, 2011 4:45 p.m.

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