California ag community files letter to CPUC to support continued solar net metering

A group of sixteen farms and agricultural businesses sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) declaring their support for the continuation of solar net metering. Net energy metering is a program that compensates solar consumers for any excess electricity they export to the grid.

The filing is a response to actions by the state's investor-owned utilities proposing to make California the first major solar state to abandon net metering, a cornerstone policy of every successful solar market in the country. The utility proposals would put future customers' ability to go solar at risk. The CPUC is expected to determine the fate of net metering in California by December 31, 2015.

"I am a walnut grower who is impacted by the extremely high rates of mid-day peak pricing to the point that it is not economically feasible for me to use my pumps during the day," wrote Greg Swett of Swett Orchards. "Through net-metering and larger installations of solar panels, it is possible that these peak prices will be reduced, which will benefit me directly by allowing use of these pumps."

"Net metering works for California farms and agriculture," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director of CALSEIA. "It provides these businesses with the type of choice and flexibility that allows them to control costs while managing their impact on the environment."

The letter was signed by sixteen different farms, throughout California from Lakeside to Redding. The Fresno County Farm Bureau, Good Nuts, and Swett Orchards also sent letters of support for net energy metering to the CPUC.

The letter reads, "California is a nationwide leader in agriculture, producing much of the nation's produce, dairy products, and wine. We also lead the nation in rooftop solar and set the standard for forward-thinking energy policy. We encourage the California Public Utilities Commission to continue full net energy metering, including aggregate net energy metering and annual true-ups, for California's farmers, and for all solar customers throughout the state."

The net metering program has helped fuel the explosive growth of solar across the state. Before the end of this year, the CPUC will decide on the future of net energy metering, including among options proposed by the three investor owned utilities, PG&;E, SCE, and SDG&;E, all of which include fees and rates designed to make solar uneconomical in order to protect the utility's monopoly.