RULE 21: The Truth Behind California's Solar Policy

 

Our team at JKB Energy strives to offer the best customer service in the industry by providing transparent, realistic and reliable processes within every aspect of our customer’s experience. A large footprint of the customer experience includes the illusive Rule 21 Interconnection Tariff. The Rule 21 Tariff, governed by policy makers in the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), is California’s interconnection and solar policy. The correct integration of this policy is crucial in order to accurately stage construction and utility interconnection. The result of incorrect implementation of this process could be devastating: a customer – with a fully built (and paid for) solar system – not earning a single dime in utility credits. Clearly the Rule 21 process can make or break the construction timing of a project, and if your solar installer does not know how to navigate this process properly, you can be in for a huge let down. It is of the utmost priority for JKB Energy to convey a “no fine print” model for our customers, by offering realistic expectations and transparency within the Rule 21 Interconnection process.

 
 
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What Exactly Is Rule 21? 

Rule 21, governed by the CPUC, is the Interconnection Process for Net Energy Metering and renewable energy, which also encompasses NEM solar projects. Rule 21 requires the “Big 3” utility companies to follow a consistent application process, engineering screening reviews, and final inspection requirements. In other words, PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E, can’t just do whatever they want with solar installations, they are required to follow these enforced rules and are held accountable by the CPUC.

 

Why Should You Care About Rule 21? 

Although solar system owners can expect a consistent application and engineering process, Rule 21 includes a gray area. The obstacles surrounding Rule 21, are the remaining areas in which this rule does not provide specific timeline requirements; and this is where an experienced solar installer will be the keys to a successful project execution. Rule 21 does not govern the mitigation and upgrade process within the local planning office. This means the solar companies interaction with the various local offices can result in your personal interconnection experience. For some, the result of a poorly networked and experienced interconnection department could be the delay of generating credits for your newly installed solar facility.

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How Do I Choose A Reliable Solar Installer? 

Here is our list of key features to look for when searching for dependable solar installers:

  1. Know the difference between the utilities’ interconnection departments and local offices. 
    JKB Energy maintains a strong relationship between the PG&E interconnection office in San Francisco and various local offices. If a problem arises during the installation process, we know exactly who to go to, and how to mitigate the situation successfully. This allows us to manage the issue quickly, strategically and effectively.

  2. Have a thorough knowledge of project requirements. 
    JKB Energy has a thorough understanding of what each department will need to move projects forward. We have the required documentation, CAD files, and spec sheets in the hands of the utility companies before they even request it. Our team communicates clearly and sends the correct project specifications to PG&E the first time around.  

  3. Strong relationships with local customer service managers and service planners. 
    JKB Energy has been successfully interconnecting various size projects for over 11 years. We have formed strong relationships with various service planning personnel, customer service representatives, and even site inspectors throughout multiple utility companies. Knowing how to collaborate and effectively communicate with different personalities accurately has been a crucial factor to JKB’s successful Interconnection of over 300 solar installations.

  4. Participation in the future of the newly opened Rule 21 proceedings. 
    As members of Working Group #1, our team regularly attends the recently opened Rule 21 Tariff Proceedings held in the CPUC San Francisco offices. These proceedings are imperative to the solar industries’ future Interconnection process. We collaborate closely with CALSEIA, San Diego Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, PG&E, and The CPUC to propose future beneficial Rule 21 changes on behalf of our customers.   

“We are one of very few solar installers involved in the recently opened Rule 21 proceedings, which will be crucial to the future of solar installations,” says Amanda Johnson, Manager of Client Relations. “Although there are many topics covered under the Rule 21 Tariff – our team holds a strong engineering background and maintains a comprehensive understanding of the process as a whole. Our goal is to advocate for our customers in order to make Rule 21 as effective as possible.”

Do you have questions about the Rule 21 Tariff? We’d be happy to talk you through it. Please feel free to call us at (209) 668-5303 or email info@jkbenergy.com with questions. 

Chad Cummings