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Net Metering Regulations

If you are one of the 1.3 million Californians with rooftop solar on your home, there is a strong likelihood you are producing more electricity than you consume. The net energy metering (NEM) process allows solar generators to get credit for this surplus energy from their utility. Net energy metering rates determine the value of surplus production. Changes to NEM rates, and related fees, have significant impacts on solar producers and reduce the return on investment for homeowners.

Last year, the state proposed significant changes to the current structure of the NEM, which was last updated in 2016. The proposed changes included annual fees for participation in the NEM market and much lower rates for the excess electricity. The proposed changes would dramatically impact the solar industry, drastically reducing the value proposition.

In February, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced that it is putting a hold on the proposed changes to NEM rates. The conversation will continue, but the dread of NEM 3.0 is on hold for now.

As the market grows and adoption increases, there is no question the NEM rates will need to be adjusted. It is nice to see that the CPUC has realized the potential impacts of changing the structure and plans to consider stakeholder feedback and other information before implementing changes.

The California Energy Code – Title 24 part 6

California building codes are updated on a three-year cycle. The next revision will be in 2025. Part of the process involves workshops and stakeholder meetings to look at current issues, discuss options, and consider solutions.

On March 22nd, the California Energy Commission held an all-day Energy Efficiency Code workshop. The objective was to evaluate the state of Title -24 and the HERS (Home Energy Rating System). Before the meeting, the CEC reached out to Efficiency First California to ask if we would participate in one of the panel discussions during the workshop.

One of our goals at Efficiency First California is to represent the contractor’s perspective in state policy and other related meetings. We welcomed the opportunity as this is one of our core directives. Our Executive Director, Charles Cormany, provided a PowerPoint presentation outlining some of the challenges we encounter with T-24 and the HERS process.

Our presentation included challenges related to:

  • Permits – The process, cost, and contractors who do not pull permits
  • Enforcement of existing regulations – The need to level the playing field
  • The process, in general – Its’ too complicated
  • Misaligned interests – Contractors hiring “independent 3rd party” HERS raters and what happens if they fail jobs

We also covered other aspects, such as the challenges of obtaining consistent test results from HERS raters and exemptions allowed for sampling and projects 15% above the energy code.

There were several other presentations and panel discussions during the workshop. The common thread? The process is too complicated and needs to be simplified. Our message was heard loud and clear, and they thanked us for presenting our opinions.

The CEC wants to hear your perspective. Workshops are open to the public. If you would like to participate, check out the calendar at the CEC to see if the next workshop fits into your schedule.

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