I never doubted my decision to go solar back in 2006. It’s hard to argue with being cash flow positive from day one, but there are some times when the wisdom of generating my own electricity really hits home. Now is such a time.
SDGE has announced large rate hikes for many of its customers effective September 2013 and RETROACTIVE TO JANUARY 1, 2012! OMG, I want to climb up on my roof and kiss each of my solar panels individually to thank them for all of the money they save/make me. My solar system is by far the hardest working home improvement I ever did especially in light of the recently announced SDGE rate increase.
I estimate that my bill today would be somewhere in the $300-$350/month range today if I didn’t have solar on my roof. This means I’d be walloped because I “use more than the average household.” According to the San Diego Union Tribune (7/1/2013) the SDGE rate increase was developed using:
“…a complex rate formula, a coastal customer using 400 kilowatt hours of electricity can expect to see their bill increase by $5 to $91, while an 800 kilowatt customer would see an increase of $56 to $255.”
And according to CBS News (6/27/2013) the SDGE rate increase:
“…will spike—up $15 for bills around $100 and up $75 for bills around $250.”
Ok, let me get this straight. Bills of $250 will go up $75 a month? That’s a 30% increase! A family with a $250 monthly bill today will spent $900 more every year on electricity starting in September. Wow! That’s a $900 bullet my family just dodged assuming that my $300+ estimated monthly non-solar bill didn’t get hit even harder by the SDGE rate increase. It’s probably safe to assume it would have been hit harder, but fortunately it’s of no concern to us since we generate almost all the electricity we need.
I’ve worked with thousands of customers over the last 6+ years. There’s always someone who questions the 6.7% annually compounded rate the solar industry oft quotes during the sales process. They’ll say, “Rates didn’t increase last year” and “That’s impossible electricity would become unaffordable,” but the fact is, as many as 30% of SDGE’s rate payers just got hit with a 30% increase all at once and the rate increase was made RETROACTIVE.
I’ve been quoted thousands of times stating that “electricity in California should continue to climb at 6.7% annually on average if it continues on the same trajectory it has for the last 40 years.” Never in my wildest dreams (or nightmares) did I think a utility would make a rate hike retroactive. The SDGE rate increase is exactly that – retroactive back 19 months. I’m not even sure how they were able to pull that off. Crazy.
If you’re an SDGE ratepayer who has considered solar previously but found it didn’t pencil out, it’s time to take another look. This impending and retroactive rate increase will tip the scales toward solar for many if not most of you, especially if you live inland in a large home or in the all-electric areas of North County. Big beach users aren’t exempt from the SDGE rate increase just because they use less air conditioning. If you’re using 800 or more kilowatt hours every month, solar just became a no-brainer.