A decision by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will increased the number of rooftop solar installations that will qualify for net energy metering (NEM) by clarifying the way the program is capped.
NEM allows customers to receive a bill credit for excess energy produced by their home solar system. However, the number of solar systems allowed to receive NEM credits is not unlimited. Without NEM, the market potential for rooftop solar would be severely restricted.
California law states that electric utilities are only obligated to offer NEM to customers until the amount of installed solar capacity equals five percent of the utility’s “aggregated customer peak demand.”
Prior to the current CPUC decision, electric utilities interpreted “aggregate customer peak demand” to mean the coincident system peak demand, or the highest demand from all customers at any one time. Under the new interpretation, it is estimated that this cap could be reached in Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s territory as soon as 2013, at which time the utilities would not accept new NEM customers.
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