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Going Solar: What a Possible End to Net Metering Means for You

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Trying to decide the best time to go solar?

The short answer: Right now.

Since its inception, the biggest incentive for going solar was the state-mandated arrangement called Net Energy Metering, through which utility companies such as San Diego Gas & Electric buy power produced from solar customers, allowing customers to shrink or eliminate their electric bills altogether.

But now, Net Metering rebates may be a thing of the past. Why?

In part because of a recent bill signed by Governor Brown, which requires state regulators to set new rules either once rooftop solar customers’ power hits 5% of the region’s peak demand or by July 2017. San Diego is projected to be the first to reach that cap, and well before the July 2017 mark—some estimates give as early as December 2015.

There is a probable new rebate model in the works, but it’s highly unlikely to be as generous as the current model, in which SDG&E buys the power surplus at the same rate it charges its highest usage tier customers—42 cents a kilowatt hour. Proposals for a new rebate program are currently being discussed by the state Public Utilities Commission as well as utility companies and other groups.

The good news is that customers who already have their solar panels installed and running should have their current program grandfathered in.

Whether you are considering purchasing or leasing your solar panels, there’s no time to hesitate.

Time is of the essence. To beat the clock on a net metering program expiration, you need more than just a signed contract for your system; your solar panels must be not only installed prior to the deadline but must be operating. Some contractors may take an average of 120 days from the time a contract is signed to the time the system is installed. Demand is currently high (more solar energy is now installed in San Diego each week than in the entirety of 2008), so installation projections may vary.

Net metering helps make going solar affordable. But it is also important to remember that solar power is sustainable power that you can rely on. One of the things that going solar has taught us is how we can best integrate energy consumption with environmental responsibility. Across the nation, and especially here in San Diego, we’ve proven the many successes of solar.

To discuss more about the net metering program and to install before the deadlines, contact us at 858-450-9700 or visit our website at 92130.stisolarenergy.com.