Solarizing our homes is a crucial piece in the energy resilience and sustainability puzzle. Aside from the overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that comes from replacing dirty energy sources with photovoltaic (PV) technology, solar is also beneficial for other reasons. On the one hand, it builds energy independence and reduces reliance on centralized energy grids. Solar also lowers the overall long-term cost of utility bills for homeowners. The frequent power outages in Humboldt and sharp increase in energy market costs in recent years highlight the importance of these advantages.
Cost reductions for homeowners, which have been pivotal in encouraging individuals to solarize their houses, are diminishing beginning in April. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently released a new net-metering structure (NEM 3.0) that will shift incentives dramatically. Under the current net-metering program (NEM 2.0), excess power generated by homeowners' solar systems during peak hours is credited to the grid at the standard rate of utility-based electricity (i.e. around 0.30 cents per kWh on average). For homeowners this allows for a significant reduction in energy costs without supplemental battery storage, as excess power generated and credited during peak hours can, depending on how much power is produced, largely offset nighttime usage. Following the implementation of NEM 3.0 in April, however, the CPUC will allow utility companies to lower that credit by around 75 percent, significantly reducing potential long-term savings.
What's the silver lining? Any new solar interconnection application filed before the April 14th, 2023 deadline will be grandfathered into the NEM 2.0 structure for 20 years. Another benefit (that’s not going away this year) is the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) – 30% of the cost of solar PV systems installed between 2022 and 2032. So if you've been considering solar for your home, now is the time.