Understanding Potential 2019 CPUC and Utility Rate Increases

 

You might have heard rumblings that PG&E rates will increase 20% by 2019. While we can’t attest to what the final details will be, we do want to be candid and reassure our solar customers that they aren’t losing out on their investments. The California energy market is quite accustomed to rate increases due to inflation, but these small, proposed changes will have big impacts on seasonal energy users —especially the ag industry.

Here are the facts:

On January 19, 2017, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) commissioners voted to accept the revised proposed decision titled, “Decision Adopting Policy Guidelines to Assess Time Periods For Future Time-Of-Use Rates and Energy Resource Contract Payments.”

While many details are still in flux, we expect the CPUC’s acceptance of final rate proposals from PG&E and other utilities to come by year-end. 

   The graph above displays the difference between current rates, proposed rates and their peak times. While the peak time is proposed to move back to the end of the day, the off-peak rate increases will make up for the lost time of day—essentially leaving solar customers worry-free.

The graph above displays the difference between current rates, proposed rates and their peak times. While the peak time is proposed to move back to the end of the day, the off-peak rate increases will make up for the lost time of day—essentially leaving solar customers worry-free.

What does this mean, exactly?

  • Peak time-of-use periods and rate dollar amounts are still in negotiation.

  • All rates will flatten – the peak periods will get cheaper but the off-peak periods will be increasing by up to 20%.

  • This change does not affect 20-year NEM (dollar-for-dollar) grandfathering for solar customers. All energy users will be impacted by these changes, not just solar users. However, it’s not too late to hop on.

Is there any good news? Yes!

The good news is that your solar investment is safe, and quite frankly, that’s the most secure fact we have. Your investment will pay off in the same projected timeline or sooner.

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The reality is that utilities have always been allowed to adjust the dollar amount of any given rate. Whether you have solar or not, utility companies — particularly PG&E — are hoping to simplify your billing. For example, PG&E is looking to condense over a dozen ag rate options to three in an effort to streamline billing processes. With these updates, both the utility company and the customer will have a more transparent billing process.

 
Chad Cummings