A Solar-Powered Screwing In California
The caption above an SF Gate story by Christopher Martin and Mark Chediak says it all:
Power companies in California are required to buy electricity from residents and businesses with solar generator systems at the same price they resell it to other customers, meaning utilities earn nothing to cover their fixed costs.
More from the piece:
About 20,000 customers of San Diego Gas & Electric had connected 146 megawatts of solar panels to its grid as of Nov. 1, accounting for 1.2 percent of its peak load. The company is adding 409 new net-metering customers a month, said Stephanie Donovan, a spokeswoman for the state’s third-largest utility.
SDG&E can’t collect about $18 million to $20 million a year in grid costs from customers with rooftop solar panels, according to Dan Skopec, vice president of regulatory affairs for San Diego’s Sempra Energy, the utility’s owner.
The utility will be shifting about $200 million in annual costs to customers without panels when the state reaches its cap, Skopec said. Solar customers “avoid charges, not just for energy, but also the costs of the transmission and distribution system,” he said. “That’s why we say it is not sustainable.”
Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s biggest utility, will pass on about $700 million in annual costs to people without solar systems when the state hits the cap, according to Denny Boyles, a spokesman. Southern California Edison will transfer about $400 million annually, according to spokesman David Song, for a total of $1.3 billion from the three utilities.