California PUC rejects San Diego solar surcharge

San Diego Gas & Electric’s proposal to charge solar users a “network use charge,” was rejected on Jan. 18 by the California Public Utilities Commission.

The fee, part of SDG&E’s restructuring plan for 2012, would have added a $30 charge to residents and businesses that used solar systems in the San Diego area.

"We're simply asking people who have solar on their roof to pay their fair share of the amount that they use our network grid, that everybody has paid for. They should be sharing those costs," said Stephanie Donovan, a spokeswoman for SDG&E to San Diego’s KPBS.

According to SDG&E, rooftop solar customers need to pay more to make up for the costs of connecting to the grid and maintaining infrastructure. The utility further claimed that non-solar customers are subsidizing solar systems, and the fee would help alleviate that expense.

"Thankfully, the CPUC saw through the utility's distortions,” said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, an opponent of the fee. “The proposal was dead on arrival because it wasn't crafted for fairness; it was designed to kill off competition from solar providers.”

Opponents of the bill claimed the added charge had more to do with SDG&E’s profit model and less to do with non-solar ratepayers.

Wednesday’s decision by the CPUC requires SDG&E to resubmit the restructuring plan without the solar fee by Feb. 17.