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Gordon to address proposed SDG&E charges on Saturday

HelioPower’s Scott Gordon will address the new proposed surcharges to solar users announced this week by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) at solar meetings in Laguna Niguel this Saturday.

NC Times announced today that “Homeowners with solar power may have to dig a little deeper to pay off their green investment if regulators approve San Diego Gas & Electric Co.’s request to change the way electricity is billed.

Under its proposal, SDG&E would unbundle the charges for electricity and for transporting electricity.”

The article goes on to say “In December, the utility asked the California Public Utilities Commission to let it charge customers an extra $1.1 billion, a request still under review by regulators. Monday’s filing proposed exactly how the utility would collect that money from its customers.

Rates for electricity would be lower, but a new “network use charge” would tack on a fee for using the utility’s power lines. J.C. Thomas, the utility’s manager for government and regulatory affairs, said the charge would be about 4 or 5 cents a kilowatt, based on a customer’s average hourly use, excluding late at night.

SDG&E didn’t share its completed filing before it was sent to regulators on Monday, but it briefed numerous advocacy groups, most of whom expressed concern about SDG&E’s assumptions.

“They are trying to mitigate, in their mind, the so-called cost subsidy issue,” said Leeweigh Tan, a regulatory analyst for the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, an independent arm of the commission. “Sometimes utilities get enthusiastic about addressing a certain issue and they blow it out of proportion. We want to make sure the data supports their claim.”

Indeed, all of the advocates reached for this article wondered how SDG&E generated those figures for the subsidy. The complete filing is likely to address that question.

“SDG&E ignores all the benefits of solar and only looks at the costs,” said Michael Shames, executive director of the Utility Consumers’ Action Network, an advocacy nonprofit.

Because the new charge would extend the return on investment for solar, it would make explaining solar to potential installation customers more difficult. It would probably depress what has been a growing market, said Scott Gordon, an SDG&E residential solar customer and vice president for sales for Murrieta solar installer HelioPower.

“That is frightening,” Gordon said.

The role of the utility is changing, says the article.  This same point is addressed in Gordon’s Smart Meter and Solar discussions, which helps consumers understand how the role of the utility is changing, how pricing for electricity is changing and the role the smart meter plays in gathering data.  The series this Saturday in Laguna Niguel will also feature a discussion about this proposed new pricing from SDG&E.
Source:  NC Times