Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced the company will soon reach a milestone of 2,409 megawatts of installed private rooftop solar capacity on the energy grid, representing more than 275,000 solar power customers in Northern and Central California. PG&E expects to reach this state-mandated limit for its current rooftop solar program this month.
With this milestone, new solar customers that PG&E connects to the energy grid will be on the next version of the net energy metering (NEM) program – called NEM 2. NEM is the program for private rooftop solar customers who generate their own solar energy and use PG&E energy at night or when the sun’s not shining.
“PG&E is dedicated to supporting our customers’ choice and control when it comes to their energy. Because of our commitment to clean energy, we want to make sure our customers are well-informed and prepared as they start on their solar journey. We’re here to help them throughout the process and to safely and quickly connect them to the energy grid,” said Aaron Johnson, Vice President of PG&E’s Customer Energy Solutions.
While NEM 2 makes modest changes to the structure that has been in place for more than 20 years, rooftop solar customers continue to receive subsidies that are borne by all other customers. The solar market has evolved and PG&E is committed to working with all parties to find the right balance to support the continued growth of solar and align the cost of the energy grid for all customers.
Exploring the NEM 2 program
The NEM 2 program for new solar customers makes modest adjustments compared to the existing program, including:
- A one-time fee for PG&E to safely and quickly connect a customer’s rooftop solar system to the energy grid, which will be $145 for customers installing a system that is one megawatt or less in size. An average residential customer’s solar system is five kilowatts in size.
- A small charge for state-mandated costs contributing to public purpose programs such as low-income or energy efficiency customer programs. New solar customers on the NEM 2 program will pay these charges on electricity they use from PG&E’s grid, but not on electricity they use that’s generated by their solar panels. All other PG&E customers pay these same charges for all of their energy use.
- New solar customers will be on a time-of-use rate plan in which the price of electricity depends on the time of the day.
Solar customers who have already installed their solar panels and are on the existing version of NEM will be grandfathered into that program for 20 years from the date their solar system was connected to the grid.
Continued Support for Solar in California
Since 1993, PG&E has connected more than 275,000 solar customers to the energy grid in Northern and Central California, representing about 25 percent of the country’s rooftop solar. PG&E connects about 6,000 new solar customers every month and each new solar customer within three business days – compared to the industry average of four weeks.
PG&E offers a range of tips, tools and resources to help customers interested in solar get started:
- Prepare your home: By ensuring their home is energy efficient before going solar, customers can reduce the size of their solar system and save money in upfront costs.
- Right-size your system: Customers can use PG&E’s Solar Calculator to help estimate the cost and size of the solar system that’s right for them. A new feature in the calculator will help customers maximize savings by viewing a customized side-by-side rate analysis using their historic electric usage data to determine the best time-of-use rate for them.
- Do the math: Customers should learn about the different financing options for solar to make an informed decision that works based on their budget and lifestyle.
- Pick your partner: PG&E recommends obtaining bids from at least three solar contractors, similar to other home improvement projects, and exploring other ways to hire a vendor that’s right for them.
Earlier this year, PG&E’s announced a new offering for customers to go solar without installing panels. PG&E’s Solar Choice program offers customers the option to purchase their electricity from solar energy generated from new projects built in PG&E’s service area. This option allows renters, homeowners and businesses to support solar energy regardless of their location or ability to physically install solar panels.