California regulators halt NEM3.0 plan, at least for now

California utility regulators put an indefinite hold on plans to vote on a proposed plan to revise the state’s net energy metering rules that would impact roughly 1.3 million rooftop solar customers.

News reports said that an email from an administrative judge said that the proposed decision would not appear on the Public Utilities Commission’s voting meeting agenda “until further notice.” It had been slated for consideration on January 27, but that date slipped to February 10. Now the vote is off the table for the foreseeable future.

The email reportedly said that the CPUC’s new president, Alice Busching Reynolds, had asked for more time to review the record and consider revisions to the proposed decision based on comments.

The proposal, issued by energy regulators December 13, received backlash from solar companies, renewable advocates, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In addition, consulting firm Wood Mackenzie released analysis saying the proposed net metering tariff revisions would cut the state’s residential solar market in half by 2024.

The California Solar & Storage Association criticized the proposal when it was first made public, saying that regulators appeared to have “sided with PG&E and the other large investor-owned utilities” in an approach that “will make rooftop solar and customer-owned batteries more expensive and therefore out of reach of working- and middle-class consumers.”

The association said that an early read of the proposal suggested that the rate paid for solar exported to the grid “appears to be approximately 5 cents/kWh,” down from 20-30 cents/kWh for residential customers. The association said that the proposed plan includes no transition glide path, meaning that the full reduction likely would take effect as soon as NEM-3 is implemented.

Charlie Coggeshall, senior analyst and regional director for Coalition for Community Solar Access, called the proposed decision “deeply disappointing.” He said in a statement it would delay action on developing a “workable community solar program in California” and “undermines” the state’s distributed energy market.

“We urge the Commission to reconsider and reassess the benefits a thriving community solar program can bring to California before it issues a final decision.”