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San Francisco Homes Can Now Sell Surplus Solar Energy to PG&E

It seems simple - if you are providing PG&E with solar energy you aren't using, you should be paid for it (just as you would pay for solar energy you receive from them).  However, adoptin a reimbursement program in San Francisco and the rest of California has not been as easy as it sounds. Recently California Energy REgulators approved a program that will allow San Francisco home owners and business that produce solar energy to sell that energy back to PG&E. Solar panel owners already receive a "net-metering" credit on their utility bills which is used toward future energy bills, but these credits have no cash value.

However, residents shouldn't get their hopes up for big bucks.  Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s will be compensating solar energy producers at a rate of 4 to 5.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.  That's not much. The rules apply will balance out over the course of a year to those who generate more electricity than they use over a 12-month billing period.

The decision, made by the California Public Utilities Commission has caused much tension between solar energy advocates and others who feel like their are enough solar incentives already in place.

“These solar systems will be reliably operating at peak periods of the day,” said Adam Browning, executive director of the Vote Solar Initiative advocacy group. “The commission is severely undervaluing their contribution.” The president of the Commission, Michael Peevey even argued that the reimbursement did not go far enough. He advcated for a different way to caluclate the compensation rate. In San Francisco this would be around 9.3 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Others disagreed with the high reimbursement rate. “I love solar as much as anyone,” said another Commissioner, Mike Florio. “At some point, I think we have to say, ‘How much subsidy is enough?’ What we really want here is a mature solar industry that can stand on its own.”

Related Articles: What is Photovoltaic Solar Power? ; Is Solar Right for Me? ; What is a Certified NABCEP Solar Installer? ; Solar FAQ ; Federal Solar Tax Rebates

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