The Sacramento Municipal Utilities District adopted on a 7-0 vote its staff’s novel compensation plan for rooftop solar that lowers payments for excess power sent to its grid but provides incentives to add storage to the systems. The net energy metering plan was amended just before the Sept. 16 evening vote to delay by two months its launch. The new start date is March 1 of next year instead of Jan. 1.
SMUD board president Nancy Bui-Thompson proposed a later start to avoid a rate increase kicking in right after the end-of-the-year holidays.
The cost of the delay was estimated at $2 million over nine years, or $250,000 a year, according to SMUD General Counsel Paul Lau.
The net compensation package includes a critical peak pricing rate that will give customers a very high per-kWh price for supplying generation stored in batteries at critical periods of demand when solar generation is reduced, like after sunset. It also includes an upfront rebate to help customers cover the high cost of adding a storage system, and programs to low-income customers for offsite local solar system investments.
The plan was developed over two years to address over-payments for distributed solar sent to the grid borne by lower income customers and others. The revised payment scheme was backed by many solar advocates.
All customers currently in the net energy metering program will remain on the higher payment for excess solar until 2030.
SMUD subsidies for photovoltaic systems over 20 years has resulted in 36,000 solar customers. Of those only 300 include storage. As part of it goal to be carbon neutral by 2030, the muni hopes to incent another 30,000 rooftop systems by the end of the decade.