Ratepayers and solar industry professionals alike were jarred by San Diego’s Gas & Electric’s most recent proposal to the California Public Utilities Commission, arguing for a minimum utility bill of $39 to be instituted for all customers.
“The minimum bill amount currently is $10 per month and we’re proposing to increase it to $38 per month,” said San Diego’s Gas & Electric (SDG&E) spokesman Wes Jones. “A solar household may not pay their full cost of service in terms of us giving them electricity and that cost is then shifted to a non-solar household for the grid to be maintained and operated.”
For those who work in the solar industry, including Sullivan Solar Power, this is clearly another blow from the utility, punishing those who are making the switch to solar and declaring energy independence. SDG&E solar customers are already mandated to incur a minimum ten dollar monthly charge for grid services, in addition to non-bypassable charges, which are imposed on every kilowatt hour of energy solar customers export to the grid. San Diegans that have made the choice to go solar are contributing to the resiliency of the local grid, powering their neighbors’ homes and helping the city and state meet its climate goals. However, despite this incredible contribution, the utility is concerned about one thing: profit margins for shareholders. As SDG&E continues to become less profitable in the generation of electricity, they are finding new ways to stick San Diego families with the bill.
“SDG&E's minimum bill proposal is far above what either SCE or PG&E have proposed and exceeds the customer charges of nearly every utility in the country,” said Scott Murtishaw, Senior Advisor at the California Solar & Storage Association. “Advocates for ratepayers, the environment, the disabled, and the solar industry have joined in opposition to this outrageous proposal, and we are optimistic that the Commission will reject it.”
This proposed increase to SDG&E’s solar customers’ minimum bill is one of many reasons why the emergence of Community Choice Energy in our region is promising. Community Choice Energy is a not for profit model, where cities take over the procurement of energy for their residents (with the choice to opt to the utility instead), with a focus on meeting renewable energy goals, incentivizing local generation and reinvesting in the community.
Sullivan Solar Power, alongside the California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA) and the Sierra Club, protested this proposal strongly with letters and in-person testimony at utility commission hearings. We will keep our clients and local community updated on this progression, which we hope and expect to be denied by the Public Utilities Commission. To make your voice heard against this discriminatory solar fee, sign your name on this petition from the Solar Rights Alliance.