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Lemon Grove City Council to Take a Position on SDG&E Solar Rate Hikes

Energy costs for the Lemon Grove School District haven't decreased since spending more than $2 million to install solar panels at three Lemon Grove schools in 2005.

Quite the opposite.

In 2008, officials told the Union-Tribune that annual energy costs increased by $100,000 after installing the panels.

Now, SDG&E is proposing even more fees for solar customers. In October, the energy company submitted an application to the California Public Utilities Commission asking permission to update the company's rate design. By doing so, solar customers would be required to pay an additional fee for putting energy into the grid as well as for taking it back out of the grid.

Lemon Grove School District officials estimate the new "network use charge" would tack on an additional $48,000 to the annual energy bill.

So, the district joined the Helix Water District San Diego County Office of Education, and Poway Unified School District, and five other government organizations, protesting the increase.

On Tuesday, the Lemon Grove City Council will consider whether to support their cause and take a stand against the rate increase. And while the council's support will not be considered a formal action by the public utilities commission, city staff believes it may help the cause.

"SDG&E's proposed fee would have a negative fiscal impact on private and public organizations that have invested in renewable energy projects," reads the report from Lemon Grove City Manager Graham Mitchell.

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Energy costs for the Lemon Grove School District haven't decreased since spending more than $2 million to install solar panels at three Lemon Grove schools in 2005.

Quite the opposite.

In 2008, officials told the Union-Tribune that annual energy costs increased by $100,000 after installing the panels.

Now, SDG&E is proposing even more fees for solar customers. In October, the energy company submitted an application to the California Public Utilities Commission asking permission to update the company's rate design. By doing so, solar customers would be required to pay an additional fee for putting energy into the grid as well as for taking it back out of the grid.

Lemon Grove School District officials estimate the new "network use charge" would tack on an additional $48,000 to the annual energy bill.

So, the district joined the Helix Water District San Diego County Office of Education, and Poway Unified School District, and five other government organizations, protesting the increase.

On Tuesday, the Lemon Grove City Council will consider whether to support their cause and take a stand against the rate increase. And while the council's support will not be considered a formal action by the public utilities commission, city staff believes it may help the cause.

"SDG&E's proposed fee would have a negative fiscal impact on private and public organizations that have invested in renewable energy projects," reads the report from Lemon Grove City Manager Graham Mitchell.

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Comments
3

I'd love to think that putting solar panels on the roof of my home would save me a bundle. The claims made by the panel providers sound almost too good to be true. That's probably because they ARE too good to be true. It is hard to follow the school district's claim that their costs went up after spending a bundle on the panels, but they should know better than anyone just what the bills looked like, before and after.

Now SDGE proposes to treat those customers having solar panels just like anyone else who cogenerates. While there is a certain logic to the SDGE claims, it is also true that for decades SDGE has been promoting energy conservation, often at its own expense. What better way to boost savings by residential and small business customers than to have them use their own electrical energy when the sun is shining? The highest power consumption days come during hot weather when AC all over the county kicks in during the afternoon. But that's also when the sun is blazing and solar panels would be at their best, offsetting much of the load on the distribution system and generating plants. If SDGE is really serious about wanting to promote energy conservation, it would be willing to pay their own going rate for kilowatt hours during such periods.

The entire program is rife with internal inconsistency and illogic.

Nov. 11, 2011

I have had solar panels on my home since April 2006 and have not paid more than $100/year since that time, my bill for 2010/11 was $52.35. I am curious as to how the LG School Districts costs could have increased. Unless their electricity usage increased significantly it doesn't seem possible.

SDGE's plan to charge solar generators a fee for distributing their excess electricity is ridiculous. Do they charge other commercial electricity providers a fee for the electricity that they buy from them? This is just a way to punish those of us that have decided to protect ourselves from their greed.

I recently received a letter from SDGE telling me that since they are now required to pay for excess generation that I would be credited $15.43 for the excess 420 kw/hrs of electricity that I produced last year, that converts to 3.6 cents per kwhr far less than the $.26 kwhr that they pay for peak energy on the open market.

Nov. 12, 2011

I could be completely off track (and hope someone else will chime in if they know the answer), but I believe the reason the bill went up so much for the LG school district is because the district installed a huge solar array on the field of a few schools which generates enough power for most, if not all the schools. SDGE is charging them a huge amount to use the network to distribute that power over the grid, which seems pretty kinda shady... It puts the LG school district in direct competition with SDGE, doesn't it?

As a single family resident if you could produce enough energy to power all your neighbors, or select friends around town then you, too, become competition.

Nov. 18, 2011

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