Community Advocacy

TRANSFORMING REGULATIONS

We advocate on your behalf – with the utility, regulators, and legislators – even after your project has been built. We want to ensure that it continues to accrue benefits and that others can also participate in the growth of, and transition to, renewable energy. To read Récolte Energy’s correspondence with Napa County, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California legislature, please click on the issue of interest below:

Renewable Energy Credits

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Successful Outcome: Renewable Energy Credits belong to owners of Distributed Generation facilities rather than to the utilities.

Compensation for Bill Credits – Senate Bill 7

January 16, 2009 Support for SB7

January 16, 2009

The Honorable Senator Wiggins
State Capitol, Room 4081
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: Support for SB7

Dear Senator Wiggins:

I am writing to express my support for SB7.

Récolte Energy is a Napa Valley based energy consultancy. My clients include wineries and non-profits, including Chappellet, Chateau Montelena, Far Niente, Nickel and Nickel, Saintsbury, Sutter Home, and The Gasser Foundation. These are all customers for whom I have developed solar photovoltaic (PV) projects.

For each of these PV projects, as for any PV project subject to the rules of the SGIP/CSI programs, the PV system had to be sized based on the clients’ historical energy usage on the meters that they wanted to offset with PV. By this rule, a PV system cannot be oversized, if it is to receive SGIP/CSI subsidies. Additionally, because my clients shift to a time-of-use tariff, their PV systems are designed to offset, on an annual basis, 100% of their bills, but only 80% of their energy consumption. This encourages my client to shift loads to off-peak hours and to be more energy efficient.

Despite best design efforts, no customer can exactly zero out their energy bills. Wineries are particularly susceptible to wide-swings in energy consumption on an annual basis, because their usage, especially during harvest, is largely dependent on the size of the crop, which in turn is dependent on nature.

For a winery to lose a credit at the end of one 12-month period and have to write a check to a utility for the subsequent 12-month period for a vagary of nature seems grossly unfair to the client and biased in favor of the utility.

A customer should have, as SB7 proposes, the option of applying a credit to their other meters on the same or contiguous property, rolling over a credit into the following 12-month period, or receiving a check for their excess production at the Market Price Referent (MPR).

The passage of SB7 will ensure two more positive results:

1. Solar generators will become more energy efficient. Right now, there is a disincentive to becoming more energy efficient. Why would solar generators implement energy efficiency measures, if the savings resulted in bill credits that accrued to the utility instead of to them?

2. Investments in PV will increase. Currently, PV system financiers (PPA providers, tax investors, banks, etc.) are taking on a host customer’s credit risk. This risk would be mitigated with the passage of SB7, because the financier would continue to receive payments (albeit reduced; at the MPR) for the production of their PV system even in the worst-case scenario of a host customer going bankrupt and demand becoming negligible.

We are in the early days of an energy transition to renewable sources of energy. Napa Valley wineries have adopted solar at an extraordinary rate compared to other industries because of the convergence of incentives (federal tax credit, accelerated depreciation, SGIP/CSI rebate, net metering, and a solar friendly tariff) and the wineries’ creditworthiness, commitment to sustainability, and long-term perspective. We should be, individually and collectively, producing as much renewable energy, including solar, as we can. For solar to be adopted by other customers as widely as it has been by the Napa Valley wine industry and to achieve the objectives of the California Solar Initiative, additional technical, regulatory, and financial obstacles need to be eliminated.

SB7 removes one disincentive to going solar. It has my complete support. I wish you success in making this bill law.

Thank you for your efforts.

Sincerely,

Gopal Shanker
President

April 18, 2009 Letter to Chairman Padilla

April 18, 2009

The Honorable Alex Padilla

Chair, Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Communications
State Capitol, Room 4038
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: Support for Senate Bill 7 (Wiggins)

Dear Chairman Padilla:

My name is Gopal Shanker. I am the President of Récolte Energy, an energy consulting business based in the Napa Valley. My clients are primarily wineries and non-profits. I am writing to request your support for Senate Bill 7, which seeks to rectify a problem around compensation for the value of electricity produced by a customer’s net-metered photovoltaic (PV) system.

I hope you will find after reading this letter that the passage of SB7 will benefit many stakeholders, including the state of California, PG&E, ratepayers, and PV customers.

Background

Before a customer installs a PV system, he applies for a rebate with PG&E. His rebate application and PV system are tied to a particular electricity meter. If he has multiple meters (even if the meters are on the same property), he must install multiple PV systems. The size of the rebate for each PV system is based on, and is capped by, the amount of electricity that he used on the related meter during the 12 months prior to submitting his rebate reservation application. The rebate and net metering (which enables the customer to buy electricity from and sell electricity to the utility at full retail rates) are together intended to enable the customer to zero out his annual electricity bill.

Given the intent of the law, the PV system sizing guideline is a good one. But because PV system sizing is based on historical energy usage patterns, and usage patterns will vary even after the PV system is installed; for natural reasons, changes in business operations, and so on; at the end of a 12-month cycle, a meter will have a bill credit or a bill debit. If it has a bill debit, the customer owes the utility money, and he has to send the utility a check. If the meter has a bill credit, the utility owes the customer money, but isn’t required to pay. The customer loses the credit. Regardless of whether there is a bill debit or credit, a new 12-month cycle begins with a zero dollar (and kWh) balance. If the customer has multiple meters, and some have bill debits and others have bill credits, these can’t be aggregated. This means that he must write the utility a check for meters with bill debits and simultaneously forfeit the value of the electricity on the meters with the bill credits.

The standard reasons cited for not compensating for a bill credit are that:
the law was written to help a PV customer zero out his bill (by limiting the system size to meet on-site load), not compensate him for overproduction.
a PV customer, because he is net-metered, is not paying his share of distribution, transmission, and other charges although he is benefitting from these services. This is a subsidy borne by ratepayers.
it would be an additional subsidy, unfairly borne by those ratepayers who cannot be PV customers for financial reasons or because they rent rather than own.
the PV customer’s production provides no value to PG&E. Because the grid is “dumb”, PG&E doesn’t even know where the PV customer is located. Even if they did know, they cannot count on his production of electricity, because he isn’t required to guarantee supply.

These arguments sound reasonable, but are fallacious or incomplete, because
to be eligible for the CSI rebates, a customer is already required to limit the size of his PV system to offset on-site load. If he wants to install a larger system than his historical energy usage allows, he is required to provide load calculations that show that his demand is expected to increase. When rebates are ultimately paid out, it is only after PG&E confirms that the projected demand has materialized.
even the obvious benefits of net metering, such as eliminating the need for additional transmission/distribution, are disregarded. I will touch on a completely overlooked argument in support of net metering later.
the compensation to the PV customer for a bill credit is not an additional subsidy. A bill credit comes from two sources: 1. the customer’s demand has dropped after installing PV and 2. he produced more electricity than he consumed during on-peak hours. PG&E receives the value of this bill credit. They sell any excess electricity that the PV customer generates at retail rates and receive compensation for it. But they do not pass along that compensation to the PV customer, because they are not required to. The PV customer is now given a choice between using and losing the value by the end of a 12-month period. If he is not compensated for this value, he will use it. Then PG&E will have to produce this electricity from other sources wholly at the ratepayer’s expense. This is worth emphasizing: When a PV customer produces solar electricity, although he is receiving a subsidy from ratepayers, he is bearing most of the financial burden of electricity production. The value of the solar electricity produced belongs to him, because it is affected by his demand profile. If he has to choose between consuming the value of the electricity that he generates within a 12 month period or surrender it to PG&E for no compensation, he will use it – perhaps wisely, perhaps not. PG&E will then have to produce the electricity, the financial burden of which will be borne entirely by ratepayers.
If the grid is “dumb”, we need to make it smarter. The U.S., California, and PG&E recognize this. We also need to invest more in distributed solar. PG&E is doing this too. PV customers, by investing a tremendous amount of their own monies in distributed generation, are leading our collective efforts to make the transition to energy from renewable resources, are making the grid more secure and reliable, and are providing the impetus needed to make the grid smarter sooner.

PV customers are precisely the individuals whom the rate payers, utilities, and California should be enlisting in their fight to achieve California’s first objective, which is to reduce demand for energy.

A PV customer understands, more than people who aren’t exposed to the economics of electricity production, that
solar electricity (or any form of energy, for that matter) is still very expensive to produce, even after all the subsidies
investments in demand reduction and energy efficiency are far more cost-effective than investments in solar electricity production
shifting electricity usage to off-peak hours improves the returns on his PV investment and simultaneously reduces the burden on the grid.

PV customers have gone solar in large part to reduce their environmental footprint; they are the ones continuing to employ people in a shrinking economy. In the process of going solar, they have assumed a disproportionate amount of the financial burden (rebates notwithstanding) of electricity production. Their actions have stimulated demand, spurred the development of financial solutions, and have put solar within the psychological and financial grasp of those who would not or could not have considered it before. All rate payers (and taxpayers, the economy, the state of California, and the environment) have benefited from the example set by PV customers.

The consequence of SB7 not passing will result in lost opportunities for reducing demand and saving energy that will multiply as more ratepayers become PV customers.

The consequences of SB7 becoming law, on the other hand, are
All stakeholders will benefit from PV customers continuing to invest in demand reduction and energy efficiency – especially because improvements in energy efficiency take place at a much faster rate than improvements in energy generation. Here then is the overlooked benefit of net metering mentioned earlier: PV customers have the potential, with the passage of SB7, to be the best producers of “negawatts”. This costs the ratepayers nothing, but they gain tremendous benefits.
PV will be deployed to an even greater extent – project financing investments will increase, because financiers will have a “back-stop” if electricity usage drops after a PV system is installed.

A diverse group of individuals, students, businesses, and governments (all of whom are ratepayers) are supporting SB7 because the fundamental reasons for supporting it are sound. I respectfully ask for your “Yes” vote on SB7, so that the PV customers are encouraged, rather than discouraged, to do the right thing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards,

Gopal Shanker
President

Outcome

Napa County: Net Exporter of Clean Energy

Background for Community Choice Aggregation in Napa County

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) was enacted in California by Assembly Bill 117 in 2002. CCAs enable cities and counties to form a service area within their borders to “bulk” purchase electricity for their residents who are utility customers. Although a CCA takes over power purchasing and rate setting from the utility, it – the utility – continues to provide transmission, distribution, customer support, metering, and billing services for the residents. When a CCA is formed, residents are automatically enrolled in the CCA. However, they can choose to opt out and continue to have the utility be their bundled electricity service supplier.

CCAs are local government programs that may be run by an individual jurisdiction, such as a city, county, or special district, or a joint powers authority (JPA) formed among several local governments. In a JPA scenario, risk to city and county general funds may be minimized. CCAs must submit an Implementation Plan with the California Public Utilities Commission, but once that Plan is certified, CCAs are for the most part autonomous and are not regulated by the CPUC.

Marin County and Sonoma County already have operating CCAs, Marin Clean Energy (MCE) and Sonoma Clean Power, respectively. The City and County of San Francisco’s CCAs are under development. More than 200 jurisdictions nationwide are currently forming CCAs.

In California, the biggest risk of a CCA failing was due to opposition from PG&E. The risk has all but disappeared because PG&E is required by law, Senate Bill 790 (2011), to cooperate with local communities wanting to form CCAs. PG&E is also required to reabsorb the customers of the CCA, should it fail.

Napa County has already joined MCE. Starting in February 2015, each resident of unincorporated Napa County will have a choice of electricity supplier: PG&E or MCE. The residents of the cities in Napa County should also have this choice. MCE will be ready to consider new memberships starting in summer 2015.

Besides choice, the other advantages are that we will be able to:

  • benefit the local Napa County economy by developing some of Napa County’s local renewable energy resources and by expanding energy efficiency programs
  • increase the amount of electricity from renewable resources, while remaining cost competitive with PG&E
  • develop long-term rate stability and electricity reliability for our residents
  • reduce countywide greenhouse gas emissions
  • enable residents to participate in, and benefit from, local production and sale of electricity through a well-designed feed-in-tariff program
  • encourage the adoption of emerging, proven, and appropriate technologies
  • bypass PG&E’s regulatory restrictions on distributed generation projects
  • modernize Napa County’s electric infrastructure
  • facilitate electrification of our vehicular fleet
  • promote energy independence and generate additional revenues through export of surplus power

Meter Aggregation (SB 594) / Virtual Net Metering

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Successful Outcome: 

From February 20, 2014 in PG&E’s territory and July 21, 2014 in SDG&E and SCE’s territories, a customer with multiple meters on adjacent or contiguous properties will be able to offset the combined loads of these meters with a single renewable energy system.

Continuation of Advocacy for VNM and NEMA under NEM Successor Tariff

April 7, 2008 Récolte Energy Letter of Support for SB 1512

April 7, 2008

The Honorable Senator Wiggins
State Capitol, Room 4081
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: Support for SB1512

Dear Senator Wiggins:

I am writing to express my support for SB 1512.

I set up Récolte Energy a few years ago to help my clients become more sustainable. My clients are mostly wineries and include Chappellet, Chateau Montelena, Far Niente, Nickel and Nickel, Saintsbury, and Sutter Home. These are all customers that have installed or are installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

As we developed these projects, we found ourselves having to comply with rules and regulations that were clearly designed for an earlier era; that do nothing but add unnecessary costs to the already high costs of PV systems; and discourage, rather than promote, the deployment of PV.

For instance, each one of my clients has more than one meter. If they wanted to offset their entire electricity bills, they would have had to apply for separate rebates; finance, engineer, design, install, and monitor separate PV systems. Most chose to only offset the meter with the largest load. A few have installed multiple PV systems. Either way, my customers are being thwarted in their attempts to become more sustainable businesses. In the first case, because they still have utility bills on the meters they haven’t offset; in the second case, because the “credits” (on the annual bills) for some meters can’t be used to offset the “debits” on other meters.

These discrete applications, PV systems, and billing complexities just add to the costs and frustrations on projects that already face significant challenges.

SB 1512 is a step in the right direction in that it breaks down barriers to the deployment of PV in settings where multiple meters exist. SB 1512 would allow a customer to route his entire electrical load back to one meter and allow his PV system to be oversized to compensate for his entire electrical use.

SB 1512 has my support. I wish you success in making this bill law.

Sincerely,

Gopal Shanker
President

April 7, 2008 Récolte Energy Letter of Support for SB 1460

April 7, 2008

The Honorable Senator Wiggins 
State Capitol, Room 4081 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
 
Re: Support for SB 1460

Dear Senator Wiggins: 

I am writing to express my support for SB 1460. 

I set up Récolte Energy a few years ago to help my clients become more sustainable. My clients are mostly wineries, but also include nonprofits like the Gasser Foundation (Gasser). Gasser is leading a countywide initiative to make Napa County more sustainable. To lead by example, 
Gasser is installing a 100 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) on the rooftop of the building that it owns. This is a commercial building with tenants. 

For this PV project, Gasser has to comply with a rule that has nothing to do with PV, but which is adding an unnecessary cost to the already high cost* of the PV system. The rule is that a landlord cannot charge his tenants directly for their electricity usage. 

Gasser had two options. One was to apply for rebates for 11 separate PV systems because there are 11 meters in the building. This option would have been administratively, technologically, and economically burdensome and would have made it impossible to offset usage on individual 
meters, because usage changes as tenants move in and out. 

The second option, which Gasser chose, is to have one PV system for the entire building, interconnected to one consolidated meter. This option requires Gasser (to remain eligible for the CSI rebate) to renegotiate leases with its tenants, so their utilities are included in their lease 
payments. This option forces Gasser to remove the incentive that its tenants currently have to use their energy wisely, and consequently makes Gasser’s goal of zeroing out its building’s energy usage more difficult to achieve. 

The obstacles that prevent or discourage deployment of PV in landlord/tenant situations should be removed. SB 1460, which encourages the removal of these obstacles, is a step in the right direction. SB 1460 has my support. I wish you success in making this bill law. 
 
Sincerely, 

Gopal Shanker 
President 
 
*Gasser, as a non-profit, is not eligible for the federal subsidies for which profitable commercial entities 
are eligible, and so is bearing most of the financial burden of installing the PV system.

April 6, 2009 Récolte Energy Letter of Support for SB 542
April 6, 2009

The Honorable Senator Wiggins 
State Capitol, Room 4081 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
 
Re: Support for SB 542 

Dear Senator Wiggins: 

I am writing to express my support for SB 542. 

I set up Récolte Energy a few years ago to help my clients become more sustainable. My clients are mostly wineries, but also include nonprofits like the Gasser Foundation, which launched a major sustainability initiative in Napa County. To lead by example, The Gasser Foundation installed a 112 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) on the rooftop of the building that it owns. This is a commercial building with tenants. 

For this PV project, The Gasser Foundation had to comply with a rule that has nothing to do with PV, but which added unnecessary aggravations and costs to an already costly and complex PV project. The rule is that a landlord cannot charge his tenants directly for their electricity usage. 

The Gasser Foundation had two options. One was to apply for rebates for 11 separate PV systems because there are 11 meters in the building. This option would have been administratively, technologically, and economically burdensome and would have made it impossible to offset 
usage on individual meters, because usage changes as tenants move in and out. 

The second option, which The Gasser Foundation chose, was to have one PV system for the entire building, interconnected to one consolidated meter. This option required The Gasser Foundation to tear out the existing switchgear and 11 meters and replace it with brand new switchgear, a single master meter, and sub-meters that accomplished no new purpose; and to renegotiate leases with its tenants, so their utilities are included in their lease payments. 

Had The Gasser Foundation been able to participate in the “Virtual Net Metering” program, they wouldn’t have had to incur this additional expense and aggravation. Moreover, the incentive that its tenants had to use their energy wisely would have stayed in place. 

The obstacles that prevent or discourage deployment of PV in landlord/tenant situations should be removed. SB 542, which encourages the removal of these obstacles, is a step in the right direction. SB 542 has my support. I wish you success in making this bill law. 
 
Sincerely, 

Gopal Shanker 
President

October 3, 2011 Récolte Energy's Protest to PG&E's Advice Letter
October 3, 2011

CPUC Energy Division
Tariff Files, Room 4005
DMS Branch
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, California 94102
Facsimile: (415) 703-2200
E-mail: jnj@cpuc.ca.gov, mas@cpuc.ca.gov

Re: Protest of Récolte Energy to PG&E’s Advice Letter 3902-E

Dear Sir/Madam:

Récolte Energy (Récolte) hereby submits the following protest to PG&E’s Advice Letter 3902-E, dated September 12, 2011.

Background
The second and third Conclusions of Law of Decision D.11-07-031 state:

2. VNM tariffs should be expanded to allow any residential, commercial or
industrial multi-tenant or multi-meter property to take VNM service and thereby
receive the benefits of a solar energy system and net energy metering.

3. For properties other than MASH-participating affordable housing
developments, an expanded VNM tariff should be limited to accounts served by a
single SDP.

Need for broader definition of SDP
The expanded VNM tariff that PG&E has proposed in its advice letter seems to comply with the Commission’s decision and intent. However, unless the Commission requires PG&E to expand its current definition of SDP, only a fraction of the intended beneficiaries of VNM will actually be able to participate in VNM. In anticipation of the expanded VNM tariff becoming effective on the 12th of October, Récolte reached out to PG&E to understand which of its (Récolte’s) clients would be eligible for VNM. PG&E provided the illustration on the page 3 and explained that its SDP extends up to the meter for an isolated meter, and almost up to the meter, if the meter is part of a meter bank, as shown in the picture. PG&E made clear that the only customers who would be eligible for VNM are those whose meters are located in one area, again, as shown in the picture.

Not one of Récolte’s winery, school, and non-profit clients, nor any other PG&E customers whose meters are located in separate buildings on the same or contiguous properties, will be eligible to participate in VNM. These are the entities on whose behalf Récolte has been advocating in these proceedings.

Unless the Commission requires PG&E to adopt a broader definition of SDP, many ratepayers will continue to be excluded from participation in VNM and therefore solar.

Récolte recommends that the Commission require PG&E to count all meters that are on the same or contiguous properties as being served by one SDP.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Gopal Shanker
President

Cc: Brian K. Cherry
Vice President, Regulation and Rates
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
77 Beale Street, Mail Code B10C
P.O. Box 770000
San Francisco, California 94177
Facsimile: (415) 973-6520
E-mail: PGETariffs@pge.com

April 11, 2012 Récolte Energy Letter of Support for SB 594
April 11, 2012

The Honorable Lois Wolk
Senator, 5th Senate District
State Capitol, Room 5114
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: Support for SB 594

Dear Senator Wolk:

I am writing to express my support for SB 594.

I am the President of Récolte Energy, a Napa Valley based energy consultancy. We develop renewable energy (RE) projects for wineries, school districts, and non-profits.

The development of these RE projects, if they can be developed at all, is constrained by regulations that were designed for an earlier era and result in my clients incurring huge costs and having to deal with layer upon layer of cascading and unnecessary complexities.

My clients typically have multiple meters. If they want to offset the electricity bills associated with these meters, they have to apply for separate rebates for each of their meters; and finance, engineer, design, install, interconnect, monitor, and receive net energy metering bills for, separate RE systems. These discrete rebate applications, RE systems, interconnection agreements, and billing complexities add to the large program and project costs and unnecessary frustrations on projects that already face significant challenges.

This is at least the fifth year that a bill to allow meter aggregation has been introduced in the California legislature. Meter aggregation is usually opposed on the grounds that it results in cost shifting and “wheeling” of electricity. Meter aggregating RE customers are accused of getting a free ride off of infrastructure paid for by all rate payers. This is just not correct and only creates additional barriers to entry for large classes of the utilities’ customers.

These misconceptions have been uncovered during the proceedings and workshops around Virtual Net Metering (VNM) at the CPUC over the last two years. Here are the facts:

1. A RE customer uses the same distribution infrastructure on his property whether he has an aggregated RE system or discrete RE systems. Because the aggregated RE system is sized to aggregated load, no more electricity is produced onsite with an aggregated RE system than with multiple RE systems.

2. The rate design for a distribution network within a customer’s property is required to be ratepayer neutral. It is the customer, not the ratepayer, who generally pays for the distribution network within his property. He pays for it, either wholly upfront or partially upfront and the balance over ten years, through revenues that the utility calculates and collects based on his projected loads. If the utility does not realize its revenues because the projected loads were overestimated, the utility “deficiency bills” the customer for the unrealized revenue, to maintain ratepayer cost neutrality.

3. Once installed, the distribution network within a customer’s property is deeded to the utility. The utility takes over operations and maintenance (O&M) of the conductor. The customer retains responsibility over O&M of the remaining parts of the distribution network, including the substructure, pull boxes, risers, and conduits. The parts of the distribution network that are likely to fail lie within the customer’s, not the utility’s, responsibility. Again, there are no additional O&M costs for a distribution network on a customer’s property for an aggregated RE system compared to discrete RE systems.

VNM, in which the output of a single photovoltaic (PV) system sized to offset the aggregated load of multiple meters, “virtually” offsets the usage associated these meters, was introduced to help low income housing residents participate in the California Solar Initiative. VNM is currently deployed without wheeling being an issue, because the PV system is sized to offset on-site load and the meters are on one or contiguous premises.

SB 594 will similarly enable other disenfranchised customers with multiple-meters on a single property or contiguous properties, who are contributing to the ratepayer base, but cannot participate in net metering to do so. With SB 594, a customer will be able to size and install a RE system to offset the combined load of these meters, without any negative consequences to other ratepayers.

SB594 has my support. I wish you success in making this bill law.

Sincerely,

Gopal Shanker
President

Sep 12, 2012 Letter to Gov. Jerry Brown
September 12, 2012

The Honorable Edmund G. Brown
Governor, State of California
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

VIA FAX: (916) 558-3177

RE: SB 594 (Wolk), Net Energy Metering Aggregation – Request for Signature

Dear Governor Brown:

I am writing to express my support for SB 594.

I am the President of Récolte Energy, a Napa Valley based energy consultancy. We develop renewable energy (RE) projects for wineries, schools, and non-profits.

My clients typically have multiple electricity meters on their properties. If they want to offset the electricity bills associated with these meters, they have to apply for separate rebates for each of their meters; and finance, engineer, design, install, interconnect, monitor, and receive net energy metering bills for, separate RE systems. These discrete rebate applications, RE systems, interconnection agreements, and billing complexities add to the large program and project costs and unnecessary frustrations on projects that already face significant challenges.

SB 594 reduces this complexity and waste, by allowing customers to install one RE system to offset the combined load of their meters. SB 594 does not increase overall RE system size limits, change net metering caps, or result in cost shifting to non-participating ratepayers.

SB 594 is supported by a long list of organizations and individuals, many of whom have already reached out to you. A partial list of supporters is attached here.

We strongly encourage your support for SB 594.

Sincerely,

Gopal Shanker
President

September 9, 2013 Récolte Energy Reply Comments
September 9, 2013

ED Tariff Unit
Energy Division
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

Submitted electronically to EDtariffunit@cpuc.ca.gov

Subject: Reply Comments of Récolte Energy on Draft Resolution E-4610

Dear Energy Division Tariff Unit:

Récolte Energy (Récolte) hereby submits Reply Comments in response to PG&E’s Opening Comments on Draft Resolution (DR) E-4610. Récolte supports the DR and rejects PG&E’s arguments opposing it.

The basis for Récolte’s rejection of PG&E’s arguments is this: SB 594 did not ask the CPUC to determine whether there was cost shifting when comparing aggregated distributed generation (DG) systems against the cost of NEM, but whether there was cost shifting when comparing aggregated DG against the cost of multiple disaggregated NEM systems – which customer-generators are already allowed to build.

The DR is correctly based on comparing aggregated DG against disaggregated DG, and PG&E’s comments are incorrectly based on comparing aggregated DG and NEM.

In their Opening Comments, PG&E “submits that there will be a cost shift if net energy metering (NEM) customers can aggregate their load.” They ask “Is the cost shift contained if nonresidential customers are more likely to aggregate?” and list various issues that would result in cost shifting.

The issues were: commercial and agricultural tariffs not being included in Energy and Environmental Economics’ NEM Cost Effectiveness Evaluation study, the capacity factor of commercial versus residential customers, customers considering aggregating their solar house loads and EV and charger loads, net metering cap increases, and so on.

The tariff that a customer generator is on and net metering caps are irrelevant to this proceeding, as are the other issues PG&E listed. The kWh produced by a DG system would be valued based on the applicable rate tariffs of the meters being offset, and would be exactly the same whether they were offset by multiple disaggregated DG or by aggregated DG systems. Similarly, the net energy metering cap being 5% or something else is unrelated to a customer generator building, say, one 500 kW DG system to offset the combined loads of five meters, each of 100 kW load, or five 100 kW DG systems to offset the five meters.

Whether there are five systems each of 100 kW or one 500 kW system, the DG system(s) have to be sized to load. A customer generator cannot, without providing load justification, oversize a DG system under either scenario.

With respect to interconnection costs, PG&E believes that these costs will increase if SB 594 allowed aggregation of projects because an aggregated system would be more like “generation designed to export for sale”, which “trigger distribution and transmission system upgrades (depending on circuit location) far more frequently than with NEM generators.” This is something PG&E needs to substantiate rather than merely state, because it is equally plausible that having to interconnect one system instead of multiple systems would reduce costs.

Then, whether building disaggregated or aggregated DG systems, whether the generation is for NEM or for direct sale to PG&E, if a distribution and transmission system upgrade is triggered, the customer-generator is required to pay in advance for the upgrade. If the customer-generator receives an allowance or a refund, the costs of the upgrade are marked up by PG&E’s cost of capital and capitalized, and PG&E recovers its costs
through cost of ownership charges.

PG&E disagrees with the DR on efficiencies achieved by building an aggregated DG. They think the benefits accrue only to the participants, and not ratepayers. It should be obvious that economies of scale will result in more kWh being generated per installed dollar. This will accelerate the cost reduction curve for DG, which in turn will accelerate the adoption of DG, and expand the pool of ratepayers who can become participants.

PG&E believes that the potential for gaming is real and that customer-generators will set up under NEM with the intention of subsequently switching to other renewable energy generation programs to avoid paying interconnection costs. A customer cannot switch from NEM to some another generation program because PG&E’s Energy Procurement Division will not enter into a PPA with a NEM customer. And even if PG&E changed their policy to do this, the customer is unlikely to. He would be replacing his full-retail NEM rate which PG&E is required to pay him for, and with which he has a hedge against inflation, with a lower PPA rate, through a contract that PG&E can break, and that may or may not have a hedge.

Finally, PG&E claims that 594 will increase billing costs. Billing for 594 should be no more complicated than VNM billing for which PG&E has already developed a tariff and modified its billing system. As with interconnection costs, PG&E needs to substantiate rather than merely make a claim, because it is equally plausible that the already developed VNM billing system can be applied here with minimal, if any, modification.

Conclusion
Récolte recommends that PG&E’s comments be completely disregarded because PG&E has not demonstrated that meter aggregation results in cost shifting when compared against the customer’s existing right to build multiple disaggregated systems.

Récolte recommends Draft Resolution E-4610 be adopted with no changes.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit reply comments.

Regards,

Gopal Shanker
President

Cc: President Michael R. Peevey
Commissioner Mark J. Ferron
Commissioner Michel P. Florio
Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval
Commissioner Carla J. Peterman
Edward Randolph, Director, Energy Division
Karen Clopton, Chief Administrative Law Judge
Frank Lindh, General Counsel
Gabe Petlin, Energy Division
ED Tariff Unit
Service List attached to DR E-4610

October 31, 2013 Récolte Energy Protest to PG&E 4305-E

October 31, 2013

ED Tariff Unit
Energy Division
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
Submitted electronically to EDtariffunit@cpuc.ca.gov

Subject: Récolte Energy’s Protest of PG&E Advice 4305-E Filing

Dear Energy Division Tariff Unit:

Récolte Energy (Récolte) hereby submits the following protest in response to PG&E’s Advice 4305-E Filing, dated October 21, 2013, based on the following three concerns:

1. Definition of “adjacent”
2. Method of computing proportionate allocation for each billing period
3. Effective Date of PG&E’s Advice 4305-E Filing

1. Definition of “adjacent”

In anticipation of a tariff enabling load aggregation becoming imminently available, Récolte spoke to PG&E to determine whether a particular customer would qualify for load aggregation, given the tariff’s eligibility requirements.

During this discussion, PG&E made clear that it is defining the term “adjacent” to mean immediately adjacent, rather than near. According to PG&E, if there are three parcels A, B, and C, and A abuts B, and B abuts C, but A and C are separated by B, then the loads of meters on A and B can be aggregated to be offset by generation on A, but the loads of meters on C cannot.

PG&E’s interpretation is not supported by the intent of SB 594, nor by the text in PU Code Section 2827 (h) (4) (A) on Applicability and eligibility, which reads:

An eligible customer-generator with multiple meters may elect to aggregate the electrical load of the meters located on the property where the renewable electrical generation facility is located and on all property adjacent or contiguous to the property on which the renewable electrical generation facility is located, if those properties are solely owned, leased, or rented by the eligible customer-generator.

The intent of SB 594 is to allow parcels that are contiguous to each other and have common ownership to aggregate the loads of all the meters on these parcels. This intent is reflected in the text in PU Code, which reads “…adjacent or contiguous to the property on which the renewable electrical generation facility is located…” Had the intent of SB 594 been to allow only contiguous parcels, there would have been no need to use the term adjacent at all.

Although PG&E has not raised this question in its advice filing, Récolte thinks it critical for the Energy Division to clarify that adjacent means “near”, and not just “immediately adjacent”, to allow all parcels that are contiguous to each other, and therefore adjacent to the renewable electrical generation facility, to be eligible for load aggregation. In the example above of parcels A, B, and C, the meters on all three parcels should be eligible for load aggregation.

Récolte further recommends that this clarification be provided immediately so there is no debate about the meaning of the term “adjacent” after PG&E’s advice filing is approved. There shouldn’t be a replay of events that occurred during the Virtual Net Metering (VNM) proceeding, when, after Decision D.11-07-031 was issued, PG&E’s interpretation of Service Delivery Point (SDP) became known and was then debated. PG&E was ultimately required to adopt a more meaningful interpretation of SDP, but the process unnecessarily delayed the implementation of VNM for the general market by nine months.

2. Method of computing proportionate allocation for each billing period.

a. PU Section 2827 (h)(4)(C) on billing allocation states:
If an eligible customer-generator with multiple meters elects to aggregate the electrical load of those meters pursuant to subparagraph (A), and different rate schedules are applicable to service at any of those meters, the electricity generated by the renewable electrical generation facility shall be allocated to each of the meters in proportion to the electrical load served by those meters. For example, if the eligible customer-generator receives electric service through three meters, two meters being at an agricultural rate that each provide service to 25 percent of the customer’s total load, and a third meter, at a commercial rate, that provides service to 50 percent of the customer’s total load, then 50 percent of the electrical generation of the eligible renewable generation facility shall be allocated to the third meter that provides service at the commercial rate and 25 percent of the generation shall be allocated to each of the two meters providing service at the agricultural rate. This proportionate allocation shall be computed each billing period.

b. Special Conditions 2.d. (Sheet 8) in Electric Schedule NEM Tariff in PG&E’s advice filing, for a customer-generator electing load aggregation, states:
For each monthly billing period, the energy (kWh) exported to the grid (in kilowatt-hours or kWh) by the Renewable Electrical Generation Facility shall be allocated to each of the Aggregated Account meters (kWh reading), as well as the Generating Account if it has load, in proportion to the electrical load (kilowatt-hours) served by those meters over that month. At the end of the month, once the allocation proportions are known, the kWh for each Generating Account meter interval will be allocated to each of the Aggregated Accounts for the corresponding interval.

c. PU Section 2827 (h)(4)(B) on Net Surplus Compensation states:
If an eligible customer-generator chooses to aggregate pursuant to subparagraph (A), the eligible customer-generator shall be permanently ineligible to receive net surplus electricity compensation, and the electric utility shall retain any kilowatt hours in excess of the eligible customer-generator’s aggregated electrical load generated during the 12-month period.

d. Section (iii) in Electric Sample Form 79-1153 (NEM Load Aggregation Appendix) states:
Customer-Generator shall permanently be ineligible to receive AB 920 net surplus electricity compensation, and PG&E shall retain any kilowatt hours in excess of the eligible Customer-Generator‘s electrical load as determined for each aggregated meter individually.

Robert Schwartz of SPG Solar brought to Récolte’s attention the problems that would arise from simply allocating current period production in proportion to the individual meters’ current period loads, as a percent of total aggregated loads, as described in 2.b. above (Special Conditions 2.d. (Sheet 8) in Electric Schedule NEM Tariff in PG&E’s advice filing, for a customer-generator electing load aggregation). At true up, some meters won’t receive their due allocations and others will have more allocated to them than justified by their loads.

According to 2.d. above (Section (iii) in Electric Sample Form 79-1153 (NEM Load Aggregation Appendix), any excess allocation would be forfeited to PG&E. This is inconsistent with 2.c. above (PU Section 2827 (h)(4)(B) on Net Surplus Compensation).

The problems stemming from allocating current monthly generation based on current monthly loads only, can be solved by allocating current period generation in proportion to the meters’ current period loads, as required by 2.a. above (PU Section 2827 (h)(4)(C) on billing allocation), after adjusting for the cumulative allocations that were made in prior billing periods.

In the Appendix, Récolte shows the problem and solution for a hypothetical case of three electricity meters with combined annual loads of 1,500,000 kWh being offset with annual generation of 1,500,000 kWh.

Récolte recommends that PG&E modify 2.b. and 2.d. above to correctly compute the proportional allocation of monthly production, as required by statutes 2.a. and 2.c. cited above.

3. Effective Date of PG&E’s Advice 4305-E Filing

“PG&E requests that this Tier 2 advice filing become effective 120 calendar days after the date of approval in order to prepare manual billing once the final program load aggregation program requirements are established, and allow for time to roll the program out internally and to PG&E’s customers.”

Récolte recommends that PG&E’s Tier 2 advice filing become effective on the date of approval.

Even if PG&E started preparing manual billing after the final program load aggregation program requirements are established, PG&E will have more than adequate time to roll out the program internally and to its customers. No project using the proposed NEMA tariff can begin development until PG&E’s Tier 2 advice filing is approved and the tariff becomes available. A project that is given notice to proceed on the date PG&E’s Tier 2 advice filing is approved has to go through design, engineering, permitting, construction, interconnection, and one billing period, before a bill will need to be prepared. This period from design to the end of the first billing period, will take at least 120 days under the most optimistic project development scenario. There is no reason why PG&E cannot use this time period to complete its program roll out.

Conclusion

Récolte recommends
that the Commission clarify that meters on properties that are contiguous to each other, and therefore adjacent (near) the parcel on which the generation facility is located, are eligible for load aggregation.
that, to avoid causing billing errors and violating statutes, PG&E revise its method of calculating proportionate allocations each billing period, by taking into account cumulative usage and production allocations, when calculating current month production allocations.
that PG&E’s Advice 4305-E Filing become effective on the date of approval.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments.

Regards,

Gopal Shanker
President

Cc: President Michael R. Peevey
Commissioner Mark J. Ferron
Commissioner Michel P. Florio
Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval
Commissioner Carla J. Peterman
Edward Randolph, Director, Energy Division
Karen Clopton, Chief Administrative Law Judge
Frank Lindh, General Counsel
Gabe Petlin, Energy Division
ED Tariff Unit
Service List attached to Resolution E-4610

Attachments (pages 5-8)

January 17, 2014 Récolte Energy Support of PG&E 4305-E-A
January 17, 2014

ED Tariff Unit
Energy Division
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
Submitted electronically to EDtariffunit@cpuc.ca.gov

Subject: Récolte Energy’s Support of PG&E’s Revised Advice 4305-E-A Filing

Dear Energy Division Tariff Unit:

On October 31, 2013, Récolte Energy (Récolte) had protested PG&E’s Advice 4305-E Filing, dated October 21, 2013, based on the following three concerns:

1. Definition of “adjacent”
2. Method of computing proportionate allocation for each billing period
3. Effective Date of PG&E’s Advice 4305-E Filing

Récolte had recommended
that the Commission clarify that meters on properties that are contiguous to each other, and therefore adjacent (near) the parcel on which the generation facility is located, are eligible for load aggregation.
that, to avoid causing billing errors and violating statutes, PG&E revise its method of calculating proportionate allocations each billing period, by taking into account cumulative usage and production allocations, when calculating current month production allocations.
that PG&E’s Advice 4305-E Filing become effective on the date of approval.

In its revised advice filing 4305-E-A, dated January 16, 2014, PG&E has addressed all these issues to Récolte’s satisfaction.

1. Definition of “adjacent”

Special Condition 8, Load Aggregation, in PG&E’s Electric Schedule NEM Net Energy Metering Service, now reads:

… Customer-generators are eligible to participate in Load Aggregation provided that all meters in a Load Aggregation Arrangement are located (i) on the property where the renewable electrical generation facility is located, or (ii) are located within an unbroken chain of contiguous parcels that are all solely owned, leased or rented by the customer-generator. For purposes of Load Aggregation, parcels that are divided by a street, highway, or public thoroughfare are considered contiguous, provided they are within an unbroken chain of otherwise contiguous parcels that are all solely owned leased or rented by the customer-generator, as verified in Form 79-1153 [Emphasis added].

For example, assume there are five parcels (A, B, C, D, E, and F) that form a cluster of contiguous parcels and D and E are separated from A, B, C and F by a street, highway, or public thoroughfare. For the purposes of participating in Load Aggregation, all five parcels are considered contiguous, provided they are otherwise contiguous and all are solely owned, leased or rented by the customer-generator. Refer to Diagram 1 (for illustrative purposes only).

2. Method of computing proportionate allocation for each billing period

Special Condition 2.d., for a customer-generator electing Load Aggregation, in PG&E’s Electric Schedule NEM Net Energy Metering Service, now reads:

For each monthly billing period, the energy (kWh) exported to the grid (in kilowatt-hours or kWh) by the Renewable Electrical Generation Facility shall be allocated to each of the Aggregated Account meters (kWh reading), as well as the Generating Account if it has load, based on the cumulative usage at each aggregated account and the cumulative generation from the generating account from the start of the Relevant Period. [Emphasis added] At the end of the month, once the allocation proportions are known, the kWh for each Generating Account meter interval will be allocated to each of the Aggregated Accounts for the corresponding interval.

3. Effective Date of PG&E’s Advice 4305-E-A Filing

PG&E reduced the time requested for its Tier 2 advice filing to become effective from 120 calendar days to 30 calendar days.

With these changes, Récolte concerns have been addressed. Récolte now supports PG&E’s Revised Advice 4305-E-A Filing.

Récolte greatly appreciates the Energy Division and PG&E’s collaborative efforts in making Load Aggregation a reality for customer-generators in California and thanks all parties for their thoughtful participation in this matter.

Regards,

Gopal Shanker
President

Cc: President Michael R. Peevey
Commissioner Mark J. Ferron
Commissioner Michel P. Florio
Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval
Commissioner Carla J. Peterman
Edward Randolph, Director, Energy Division
Karen Clopton, Chief Administrative Law Judge
Frank Lindh, General Counsel
Gabe Petlin, Energy Division
ED Tariff Unit
Service List attached to Resolution E-4610

Napa County Community Choice Aggregation

Background for Community Choice Aggregation in Napa County

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) was enacted in California by Assembly Bill 117 in 2002. CCAs enable cities and counties to form a service area within their borders to “bulk” purchase electricity for their residents who are utility customers. Although a CCA takes over power purchasing and rate setting from the utility, it – the utility – continues to provide transmission, distribution, customer support, metering, and billing services for the residents. When a CCA is formed, residents are automatically enrolled in the CCA. However, they can choose to opt out and continue to have the utility be their bundled electricity service supplier.

CCAs are local government programs that may be run by an individual jurisdiction, such as a city, county, or special district, or a joint powers authority (JPA) formed among several local governments. In a JPA scenario, risk to city and county general funds may be minimized. CCAs must submit an Implementation Plan with the California Public Utilities Commission, but once that Plan is certified, CCAs are for the most part autonomous and are not regulated by the CPUC.

Marin County and Sonoma County already have operating CCAs, Marin Clean Energy (MCE) and Sonoma Clean Power, respectively. The City and County of San Francisco’s CCAs are under development. More than 200 jurisdictions nationwide are currently forming CCAs.

In California, the biggest risk of a CCA failing was due to opposition from PG&E. The risk has all but disappeared because PG&E is required by law, Senate Bill 790 (2011), to cooperate with local communities wanting to form CCAs. PG&E is also required to reabsorb the customers of the CCA, should it fail.

Napa County has already joined MCE. Starting in February 2015, each resident of unincorporated Napa County will have a choice of electricity supplier: PG&E or MCE. The residents of the cities in Napa County should also have this choice. MCE will be ready to consider new memberships starting in summer 2015.

Besides choice, the other advantages are that we will be able to:

  • benefit the local Napa County economy by developing some of Napa County’s local renewable energy resources and by expanding energy efficiency programs
  • increase the amount of electricity from renewable resources, while remaining cost competitive with PG&E
  • develop long-term rate stability and electricity reliability for our residents
  • reduce countywide greenhouse gas emissions
  • enable residents to participate in, and benefit from, local production and sale of electricity through a well-designed feed-in-tariff program
  • encourage the adoption of emerging, proven, and appropriate technologies
  • bypass PG&E’s regulatory restrictions on distributed generation projects
  • modernize Napa County’s electric infrastructure
  • facilitate electrification of our vehicular fleet
  • promote energy independence and generate additional revenues through export of surplus power

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Email

gopal@recolteenergy.com

Location

Napa Valley, CA