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Californian’s to pay for SCE $1 Billion Gaff
Feb21

Californian’s to pay for SCE $1 Billion Gaff

When utility companies come up short on annual profits, ratepayers are the ones expected to foot the bill and make up the difference. Such is the case for customers of Southern California Edison (SCE) this month, as the state’s Public Utility Commision (PUC) gave the company permission to increase energy bills by approximately 5% in 2019 to recover a $983.8 million deficit. The decision comes as another blow to California residents not generating their own electricity with solar power systems, following Pacific Gas and Electric’s January bankruptcy filing, which is expected to cause 15% rate increases for its clientele.    “The gas market is no longer competitive,” Commissioner Martha Guzman said after voting in favor of the PUC’s unanimous decision. Public Utilities Commissioner Martha Guzman voiced her disappointment with Southern California Edison after it recommended raising its energy bills to pay for a nearly $1 billion deficit. Comments made by members of the PUC in their official findings and at the public hearing make it clear they are disappointed with SCE for the nearly $1 billion revenue shortfall, but don’t have much wiggle room when deciding how to finance it. SCE writes that the reasons for its undercollection are “due to various factors, mostly related to the limited availability and increased cost of natural gas, especially over the summer.” Constrained gas supply and higher prices coupled with aging fossil fuel infrastructure is good reason to believe that such annual rate increases to cover operational costs will happen again. For its part, the SCE didn’t get in hot water by incurring a deficit, but rather got in trouble for not reporting the event to the PUC sooner. California Assembly Bill 57, passed in 2002, allows investor owned utility companies to recover fuel and purchase costs from ratepayers by raising their bills, but must notify the PUC if they need to cover more than 4%. SCE states that it didn’t notify the PUC in May when accounting showed there might be a problem, because it thought the market would correct. It never did. As a result, Californians in SCE’s region will be the ones paying a higher tab, seeing a increase in their energy bills. Luckily for residents that converted their homes to solar, utility bills will see a minimal change, if any, thanks to the self-generating energy ability of renewables. Events such as the PG&E bankruptcy filings and, now, SCE’s eleventh rate increases have generated more interest than ever before of homeowners looking to break free from utility companies unpredictable changes to their monthly energy bills. Companies such as Go Green Solar, which offer Do It Yourself solar systems and...

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3 Reasons To Go Solar After PG&E’s Bankruptcy
Feb07

3 Reasons To Go Solar After PG&E’s Bankruptcy

If you haven’t yet heard, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the country’s largest power utility filed for bankruptcy last month as a result of more than $30 billion in liabilities incurred from wildfires ignited by its grid. Surprisingly, this isn’t a first. PG&E declared bankruptcy in 2001, but the circumstances surrounding the company’s bankruptcy this time around are different and, once taken into account, make some of the best reasons yet why it’s time for Californians to decentralize their grid and switch to residential solar. RATE INCREASES ARE COMING When it comes to going solar, money is often the strongest motivator, and $30 billion in outstanding liabilities is no small sum to cover. But who is going to foot the bill? A recent article by Bloomberg reports that ratepayers who don’t generate their own electricity will eventually be the ones stuck with PG&E’s tab, getting charged a higher monthly cost for power. “A 15% rate increase would raise an extra $1.9 billion (for PG&E), enough to fund a $20 billion 5 yr amortizing bond at 4.5 percent,” Liam Denning of Bloomberg states. “That would cover much of the immediate liabilities pertaining to previous wildfires…” What that hike would look like for the average Californian is about $17 more a month, or a power bill that’s around $127. Paying that much for power would give PG&E’s service territory the dubious honor as being one of the three most expensive in the country. By switching to solar, not only will homeowners get the cost benefits of the federal government’s 30% tax credit before it expires at the end of this year, but they’ll be able to avoid having to pay for a company’s mistakes. MASSIVE WILDFIRES ARE THE NEW NORM Climate change isn’t some distant boogie-man lurking in the near future — it’s here now, and has made devastating wildfires the norm, and not some freak event. In 2018 California wildfires burned 1.6 million acres and killed 100 people. In 2017 PG&E reported 1,552 equipment related fires according to an article by the Los Angeles Times. But PG&E is not alone in the blame. California’s other utility companies are responsible for igniting thousands of fires over the past three years, costing property loss and lives, and incurring billions in fines from state regulators. With nearly 300,000 miles of power lines to inspect, both state legislators and utility companies are struggling to maintain a centralized grid in the face of chronic wildfires. While short term solutions include using drones and AI to monitor more power lines than the human cost permits, the long term solution is clear — a more flexible, decentralized...

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Southern Californians Hurry for Solar Before Edison Changes its Energy Payout Policy in March
Jan24

Southern Californians Hurry for Solar Before Edison Changes its Energy Payout Policy in March

Customers of Southern California Edison (SCE) are rushing to switch to solar and lock in grandfathered rates for producing more energy than they use before the company changes its policy March 1st. The utility company’s amended Time Of Use rate plan will cut the benefits new solar customers receive from producing their own electricity by up to 50 percent and threaten to double the utility bills of those customers that are still on the traditional grid during peak hours. Time of Use, or TOU as it’s commonly abbreviated, is a pricing model in which power rates vary depending on when a customer uses electricity. During peak times of day when people use more energy, the cost for electricity increases.  Designated as “Peak Hours”, Edison currently charges these increased TOU rates from 2 – 8 PM, Monday through Friday, when the cost of a watt more than doubles from $0.22 to $0.47. Under this policy, if you are generating more energy than you consumer with solar during peak hours, Edison will pay you the increased peak hour rate of $0.47 for adding power back to the grid. Blue = Solar Power GeneratedGreen = Energy Consumed After March 1st, however, Edison will change the peak hours to 4 – 9 PM, during a time when solar generating capacity has drastically declined. Additionally, Edison plans to only pay energy generating customers $0.41 per watt they add back to the grid. March 2019 TOC Policy for SCE Customers Under Edison’s new TOU policy, homeowners that go solar will have fewer hours of sunlight to generate excess energy with their system, and get paid less for it. Companies like Go Green Solar can help southern California customers install high effeciency systems on their house and get grandfathered into Edison’s current TOU rate structure for 5 years. California’s other state utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), has already made a similar TOU change to the one Edison is planning, much to the frustration of homeowners in the area. Multiple San Diego news outlets, such as San Diego News 8 and The San Diego Tribune, reported that when SDG&E shifted its peak hours from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., customers saw their energy bills more than double. All southern California utility customers must be on a TOU plan. Switching to solar with Go Green Solar before Edison’s new plan takes effect this March will allow homeowners to get paid more money for the power their energy system generates, but the sun is setting fast on the opportunity to lock in rates....

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Expiring Tax Incentive Spurs Blitz for Home Solar
Jan21

Expiring Tax Incentive Spurs Blitz for Home Solar

A popular federal tax incentive that saves homeowners thousands for installing a home solar system will significantly decrease at the end of this year. Known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), or the Federal Solar Tax Credit, the program has been in place since 2005 and allows people to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from their taxes. On average the savings are about $6000 per a customer. After this year however all that is set to change. Following 2019, a rate decrease will reduce the deduction to 26 percent in 2020 and then 22 percent in 2021. After 2021 and onwards, people will not receive any tax credit for installing a residential solar system (just a 10% for installing a commercial solar system). Home solar suppliers and installation companies such as Go Green Solar are seeing an increased interest from people looking to secure the 30 percent ITC before it expires. A similar surge of interest occurred in 2015 before congress voted to extend the tax credit. With the current oil friendly executive administration in charge, a repeat of 2016’s ITC extension is considered highly unlikely, bringing an end to the 30 percent reimbursement rate that has lasted for 14 years. The ITC was first passed under the Bush administration’s Energy Policy Act in 2005. It was extended in 2008 to help stabilize a crashing economy, removing the $2000 residential rebate cap. Since its creation, the cost of solar equipment has declined by more than 73 percent. Once the 30 percent rebate begins its steep decline, it will be years until solar is this cheap again. This knowledge, coupled with significant electricity rate hikes expected from most electricity companies this year, has created a surge of homeowners rushing to seize the investment opportunity to switch to solar. Recent changes to the ITC in 2016 have made it so homeowners can claim the tax credit on their returns as soon construction of the system begins, as long as its operational by December 31, 2023. Additional amendments to the bill allow homeowners to roll over credits into the following years if they are due back more on their taxes from the ITC than they owe. For example, if a homeowner owes $4000 in taxes for 2019 and has a $6000 ITC, that means the homeowner doesn’t have to pay taxes for 2019, and will earn a $2000 tax discount to put towards the following year. If you’re thinking of switching to solar, companies like Go Green Solar can help you lock in your 30 percent ITC rate before it comes to an end. Call...

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Flat Solar Rebates Stir Up Controversy
Jan07

Flat Solar Rebates Stir Up Controversy

A new method to calculate solar rebates in San Antonio, Texas has stirred controversy between home installers and CPS Energy, the region’s energy supplier. Until recently, CPS Energy has determined rebates according to a renewable system’s power-generating capacity. However all that has now changed as the energy company stated it will only be issuing rebates as a flat amount per renewable project, regardless of how much power that project produces. The changes are part of San Antonio’s 2009 Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP), which aims to “aggressively” reduce customer electricity use by 2020 by providing renewable incentives to residential and commercial structures.  A new $15 million pool of funding added to the $849 million plan allowed CPS Energy to update its rebate structure. Home solar advocates, such as executive director of the San Antonio Solar Alliance Ben Rodrigues, are concerned that the changes will slow residential adoption. Going forward, the amended STEP will offer a flat $2,500 rebate to eligible projects until it has exhausted $9 million in funding, whereupon the rebate offer will drop to $1,500. Rick Luna, the administrator in charge of CPS Energy’s rebate program pointed out that the gradual reduction in solar incentives is not out of the ordinary. Rebates in San Antonio used to be priced at $3 per watt, but as the cost of materials decreased and more people have outfitted their homes with solar, the incentives have also declined. Before the new STEP was initiated, residents in San Antonio could get up to $0.60 per watt, making a 10 kilowatt system eligible for a $6,000 rebate. Rick Luna, CPS Energy interim Director of Technology and Product Innovation, said the company’s new flat rebate structure allows it to stretch funding for more residents switching to solar While the new rebate plan cuts the incentives by more than half, CPS Energy says it will allow them to offer financial support to an additional 6,200 projects. While opponents of CPS might argue that the energy company acted unilaterally with San Antonio’s utility board and disagree with the latest STEP modifications, there’s little they can do. The flat rebate energy structure is already in effect and San Antonio’s City Council does not seem inclined to change it back, creating a time sensitive countdown for the $2,500 rebate to exist until it is reduced even further. To lock in the latest solar rebates before they’re cut again, home solar and DIY solar installation companies such as GoGreen Solar, which specialize in securing the best rebates for a home solar installation systems, continue to provide a valuable resource for homeowners looking to get the most bang for...

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Illinois eyes a 2000% increase in solar energy projects by 2025
Dec10

Illinois eyes a 2000% increase in solar energy projects by 2025

Illinois is hoping to become the Midwest’s solar energy leader, increasing its solar projects by 2,000 percent in the next 7 years, thanks to a state law that has been slowly rolling out. “It’s going to catapult Illinois to the forefront of the solar market, and put our state on the path to the renewable future we need to limit the worst impacts of climate change,” quoted MeLena Hessel, policy advocate for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. The ambitious goal is part of the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act, a 2016 law that set the target for Illinois to get 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Currently the state gets 98 megawatts, or less than 1 percent of its energy from solar power. In order to hit its 2025 target, the Illinois has been hustling to build a renewable energy infrastructure by training more workers and subsidizing more solar projects. Of note is a legislative emphasis placed on smaller, home solar projects. Section 8.6.1 of Illinois’s Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan spells out how the state plans to set aside a quarter of its available funding to help low-income single-family households reduce electric bills by funding photovoltaic projects on their homes. Together with the falling price of solar components, increased panel efficiency, and generous state and federal subsidies, going solar in Illinois has never had a higher Return on Investment. The biggest hurdles, however, that many single-family households face is getting their projects selected for the state’s subsidies. GoGreenSolar specializes in both home solar installation and navigating the bureaucratic topography of detailed proposals to get solar installations approved, is one of the more popular resources homeowners have been turning towards to get the best financing and upfront costs for outfitting their homes with photovoltaic panels....

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