The CPUC approved PG&E’s advice and supplemental advice letters yesterday, making PG&E’s NEMA tariff effective immediately.

This is great news, but it didn’t excite me as much as it should have, because a few hours before sending out this news, the CPUC issued its proposed decision on the net energy metering (NEM) transition issue. Our seven-year long fight has been for meter aggregation under NEM. Now NEM itself is being undermined.

Recall that AB 327 required the CPUC to determine by March 2014 how to deal with current and future (through July 1, 2017) NEM customers. During the comment phase, the utilities were arguing for the transition to be based on payback period. The rest of us were arguing for it to be based on the warranted (25 years), expected (30), or actual life (my position) of the asset. CalSEIA and Vote Solar together submitted over 50,000 petitions asking the CPUC not to change the rules on existing customers.

But the CPUC’s proposed decision sets the transition period at 20 years. Opening and reply comments on the proposed decision are due on March 12 and 17, respectively. The CPUC may modify their decision based on these comments, and Commissioners will vote on the final decision on March 27.

Mark Ferron resigned from the CPUC last month. Here is what he said in his final report (which I urge you to read) about AB 327:

“…Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, with the passage of AB327, the thorny issue of Net Energy Metering and rate design has been given over to the CPUC. But recognize that this is a poisoned chalice: the Commission will come under intense pressure to use this authority to protect the interest of the utilities over those of consumers and potential self-generators, all in the name of addressing exaggerated concerns about grid stability, cost and fairness. You – my fellow Commissioners – all must be bold and forthright in defending and strengthening our state’s commitment to clean and distributed energy generation.”

Clearly, we need to strengthen the CPUC’s resolve to resist pressure from the utilities. Because, in a few years, when the memories of these arguments have faded away, I expect even the utilities to recognize how beneficial NEMA and NEM will have been for all of us, including them!

Thanks for your support.