Sen. Block’s urging nets PUC solar industry hearing in San Diego on new tariff affecting thousands of regional consumers, employees

SAN DIEGO – Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego) today announced that the California Public Utilities Commission will conduct a public participation hearing in San Diego following his urging for a local discussion of a new solar tariff with potentially significant damaging impact on local consumers, solar companies and their employees.

“I met with PUC President Michael Picker and followed up with a written request on Wednesday to urge a San Diego hearing on this important issue,” Block said. “The speed with which the request was granted underscores the importance a new tariff would have on San Diego and other major solar cities.” The hearing will occur in November, but the date has yet to be determined.

San Diego is a state and national leader in solar power use. Yet more than 3,000 San Diego-area solar installation employees are facing an uncertain future as a state deadline nears to establish a new net energy metering (NEM) tariff by the PUC. The new tariff would be imposed when San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) reaches its limit to allow interconnected solar systems under the current NEM structure.

The new tariff is expected to increase energy costs for consumers who install solar panels after the current cap is reached. The increase in cost to solar customers, and all ratepayers, is the result of AB 327 (2013) which Senator Block opposed. The increasing installation demand and the likelihood that SDG&E could reach its NEM cap before the PUC adopts a new tariff, leaves consumers and solar companies unsure of which NEM tariff will apply to new customers. Uncertainty and higher costs have the potential to damage expansion of the solar industry as more consumers look to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the letter to Picker, Block stated that a local hearing and “an aggressive program of outreach and education about the NEM process and options under consideration is essential to the success of solar in San Diego.”

Block’s letter is attached below or click here.