EL CENTRO – The IID Board of Directors voted to not continue the Net Energy Metering (NEM) program past the mandated 50.2 MW at their Tuesday meeting.
NEM is a special billing arrangement that provides credit to customers with solar PV systems for the full retail value of the electricity their system generates. Under NEM, the customer’s electric meter keeps track of how much electricity the customer consumes, and how much excess electricity is generated by the system and sent back into the electric utility grid. Over a 12-month period, the customer has to pay only for the net amount of electricity used from the utility over-and-above the amount of electricity generated by their solar system, including service fees and taxes.
The customer is be reimbursed for any generated electricity put back into the grid, over and above what they consumed. The IID would essentially store the excess electricity for the NEM customer in the event that they overused electricity that they generated, not incurring any charges.
IID is not compensated for this service.
IID ratepayers absorb these costs.
Stopping the NEM program means that these customers would not receive compensation for the excess electricity they generate.
IID reached their obligated state-mandated goal during the first quarter of 2016.
Based on the applications in the queue, the NEM program would be over-subscribed. According to Jamie Asbury, IID deputy energy manager, there are currently 12 applications in the queue.
Staff recommended raising the 50.2 MW to 55 MW to accommodate the existing applications.
Solar companies from Coachella Valley were in attendance at the meeting. Their concern was that the stopping of the program would affect their customers that were told of the NEM program when they were sold solar packages for their homes, claiming over 100 homes would be affected.
“We are not stopping the ability to connect solar,” said IID board president Stephen Benson. “The customer is able to offset their electricity costs with solar. IID will simply not subsidize their generation of extra power.”
“By the time NEM 2.0 is enacted by the state, we will have a restructured base cost that will cover distribution fees and costs,” said Vicken Kasarjian, IID energy manager. “This will make sure our customers that don’t have solar are not over burdened by these costs.”
According to staff, some of the solar installations are not up to code and would pose a safety hazard if connected. Out of over 700 requests, there were 149 installations that were not energized because of faulty work. Most of these were found in Calexico.
At the previous meeting, IID general manager Kevin Kelley stated that ratepayers will not be paying for solar installations for those customers that are able to install these systems on their homes.
IID continues to encourage solar installations to offset electrical costs.