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SDG&E Utility Warns It Will Hit Net Metering Caps By Mid-2016

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Last week San Diego Gas & Electric warned distributed energy enthusiasts it expects to reach caps on net metering in the summer of 2016.

According to pv-magazine, SDG&E’s numbers show that existing installations and pending applications take up 74% of available capacity in the program. This opens the door to what “net metering 2.0” might look like, pitting utilities and distributed energy advocates in a face-off.

Current estimates show 30 MW of rooftop solar is being added each month under net metering in the SDG&E service area. That is a lot of electricity to calculate in a net metering platform that utilities have argued unfairly benefits owners of rooftop systems at the expense of utility shareholders.

SDG&E reports some 452 MW of distributed solar through the net metering program in its service area. The utility expects it will reach caps on net metering in the summer of 2016.

SDG&E data on net metering interconnections shows that around 15 MW of net metered systems were added each month during August, September and October. With only 161 MW of capacity left, the cap of 617 MW will be reached next September at the current rate. These calculations don’t account for the rush of customers expected in the final months before the program changes.

SDG&E chronicles the history of net metering in California as follows:

California’s net-metering law, which took effect in 1996, requires all utilities (except LADWP) to offer net metering to all customers for solar and wind-energy systems up to 1 megawatt (MW) July 2005, AB 816 passed increasing SDG&E’s cap from 0.5% of the SDG&E’s aggregate customer peak demand to 50 MW’s. SDG&E filed AL-1741-E in Nov 2005 requesting an effective date for the new cap of Jan. 1, 2006. Legislation enacted in 2006 (SB 1) increased the aggregate limit of net-metered systems in a utility’s service territory from 0.5% to 2.5% of the utility’s aggregate customer peak demand. During 2010, AB 510 was passed that further raised the aggregate limit in a utility’s service territory to 5.0% effective January 1, 2011.

In an October 28 press statement on the pending caps, SDG&E is claiming families without installed PV pay an extra US$100 per year to support net metering.

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