Letters to the Editor: How California might let utilities effectively steal from solar customers

·2 min read
GRANADA HILLS, CA - JANUARY 04, 2020: Tim McKibben, left, a senior installer for the solar company, Sunrun, and installer Aaron Newsom install solar panels on the roof of a home in Granada Hills. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A rooftop solar electricity system is installed at a home in Granada Hills on Jan. 4, 2020. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I installed a rooftop solar system in January 2019 and have enjoyed the benefits since. It hasn't always been easy though. ("Don't slash incentives for California rooftop solar," editorial, Dec. 6)

It took Southern California Edison more than three months after it signed off on my installation to begin net energy metering (paying me for the excess energy I send back into the grid). Ultimately, I had to go to the state Public Utilities Commission in order to get some action.

All that time, I was providing free electricity to Edison that it could sell at premium rates. The PUC's actions got Edison to come up with a reimbursement, but even then the utility would not pay me for the first 45 days of electricity after its go-ahead.

We home solar producers are still liable for monthly connection charges, which in my case average about $30 per month. At the end of each 12-month cycle, Edison is supposed to compensate us for the excess power. The last time I saw a check, the rate was about two cents per kilowatt hour.

Any changes that are made to net energy metering will effectively legalize theft by the utilities on a wide scale.

Burt Hermey, Costa Mesa

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To the editor: Thank you for your editorial supporting urban solar.

Along with residential property, Los Angeles has acres upon acres of rooftops on warehouses, parking lots, convention centers, airports, stadiums, mini-malls, schools and businesses. Most could support solar panels.

We have no need to string massive transmission lines through our tinderbox forests to bring electricity to the city from far-away power plants. We could use some of the state's $31-billion surplus to bring Los Angeles to net-zero emissions and save the desert tortoise too.

Sarah Starr, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The problem we have transitioning to rooftop solar and other forms of green energy is not the consumer. The government needs to help subsidize the cost.

How can we expect existing utility companies to unilaterally curtail and suspend their businesses without compensation? If we check on nations of the European Union and China, the governments there are assisting in the transition away from carbon producing energy.

It is no surprise that our capitalist economy is so inflexible as to be indifferent to the benefit of society. The U.S. has not caught up with modern times. President Biden's Build Back Better agenda would address many of these issues.

Lillian Laskin, Mar Vista

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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