California solar customers currently receive fair retail credit for the excess electricity their systems generate during daytime hours. These customers are spinning back their meters, so to speak, and putting the savings back in their pockets.
Of course, there’s a catch — and that catch is called a net metering cap. The current valuable incentives California offers solar customers are coming to an end, or reaching a cap.
“Experts have forecasted the cap will fill by mid-2016, which means design, construction, install and the big variable - interconnectivity timing - needs to start now,” says Jayson Moser JKB Energy VP of Procurement & Design. “If you want to lock in these paybacks, then don’t wait.”
The same goes for bigger upgrades, he says. If you would like to install a new electric pump and get it hooked up to the grid, you should move fast — there is a 6- to 12-month wait just for pumps, and these take priority over installing new infrastructure for solar. Your solar system needs to be interconnected to lock in your rate before the cap in reached near mid-2016.
Utility companies like Turlock Irrigation District and all power players like Pacific Gas & Electric operate on a five percent net metering cap. This five percent cap is the measured non-coincident aggregate demand, which means when utility companies measure the highest energy peak in each customer’s year, and then record that five percent peak.
TID has already reached their five percent cap. PG&E may even fill their cap as early as the Q2 of 2016. Once these caps are filled, utility companies will shift to net metering 2.0. The net metering 2.0 program is a mixed bag of benefits and will most likely not offer the same great paybacks that are currently available to participants in the net metering program.
“We tell people to invest in solar now,” says Manager of Sales & Marketing Chad Cummings. “Not because it benefits us, but truly because people will get a much larger benefit from the current net metering 1.0. Customers already interconnected before the cap is reached will be grandfathered in and continue on the net metering 1.0 guidelines for the next 20 years.”
From a legislative standpoint, we’re keeping a close eye on what changes could come out of Sacramento in the upcoming months. CPUC has until December 2015 to finalize the new compensation rules. It’s very likely that Governor Brown will extend the portfolio, meaning that currently 33% of California’s energy is mandated to derive from renewable utility sources. Governor Brown has gone on record as saying he’s “looking to bump this to 50% and extend the caps.” However, at this point nothing is confirmed. To learn more please visit the California Public Utilities Commission website
For now, at this point the only thing that is confirmed is the ability to be grandfather in to the current net metering program by taking advantage of the present opportunities, before the net metering cap is filled.