Tesla on Net Metering and the CPUC Proposal to Strip Benefits & Impose Charges on Utility Customers with Solar Panels

Palo Alto, CA….Consistent with our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, Tesla supports net metering structures that allow customers to supply their own power using on-site renewable energy without penalty. We further support NEM reform that increases the climate and grid benefits of customer-sited clean generation through rate structures that encourage the dispatch of solar-paired batteries during times of the day when the electric grid is strained and fossil power plants are most polluting.  For example, Tesla supported the NEM reform recently adopted by the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District that encourages customers to store their daytime solar energy in batteries for use in the evening hours to help the grid during times of high energy demand to offset high grid greenhouse gas emissions.

However, we oppose the CPUC Proposal for several reasons.

First, imposing fixed charges only on those customers who choose to install solar impinges on customers’ right to self-generate their own clean energy. It violates every tenant of regulatory fairness and is likely illegal under federal law.  The fixed charges cannot be avoided by adding a battery and would need to be paid regardless of whether the solar customer exports energy to the electric grid.  Every solar customer should be asking why they are discriminated against, but not those customers who have rarely used vacation homes, invest in energy efficiency, have small homes, or otherwise have pay lower utility bills.   Why would the PUC not add fixed charges to all customers fairly and with documented justification, rather than only solar customers?

Second, the dramatic change from the current NEM policy will reduce customer adoption of clean energy in California at a time when more is needed to meet the state’s climate goals and to provide more energy resiliency in the face of unprecedented wildfires and grid outages.

Finally, reducing the length of the grandfathering period short-changes customers who made an investment in solar under rules that promised consistent policy over the life of their system. Changing the rules in the middle of the game will make it less likely for customers to trust that other CPUC Decisions won’t later be reversed.