Elon Musk has called on the legion of Tesla fans, employees and customers in California to register their objection to the state’s proposed rooftop PV reforms, which would cut solar feed-in tariffs and impose a steep “grid participation charge” for existing and new solar households.
In a Tweet on Wednesday, Musk described the proposed reforms as a “bizarre anti-environment move” by the California government and shared a link to an “engage Tesla” web page that provides links and advice for opposing the changes.
Bizarre anti-environment move by govt of California https://t.co/1OwdBNWbxT
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 12, 2022
“Support distributed solar and storage in California by making your voice heard,” Tesla’s Stop the Solar Tax petition says. “Encourage the Public Utilities Commission to reject a proposed punitive tax on solar customers and retroactive changes to existing customers.”
The petition is an uncharacteristically political move by Tesla, and Musk, who has gone on the record as being opposed to all subsidies.
That said, the proposed reforms for California – which has around 1.3 million solar homes – make similar reforms set to be introduced in Australia look comparatively tame.
While Australia’s solar export charges – themselves the subject of heated debate – would be proportionate to the amount of excess solar each rooftop system send to the grid, California’s proposal would impose a flat charge of $US8 per kilowatt of solar installed, per month, irrespective of the amount of exported power.
According to the Tesla petition, it could add between $US50-$US80/month to the electricity bill of a solar household while also reducing the value of bill credits for solar energy sent to the grid by about 80 per cent.
In the petition, Tesla notes that it is not opposed to grid reforms that encouraged rooftop solar households to shift their export patterns – such as by storing their solar power in batteries to use during periods of peak demand.
“Tesla supported the NEM reform recently adopted by the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District that encourages customers to store their daytime solar energy in batteries for use in the evening hours to help the grid during times of high energy demand,” the petition says.
“However, we oppose the CPUC Proposal for several reasons.
“First, imposing fixed charges only on those customers who choose to install solar impinges on customers’ right to self-generate their own clean energy.
“The fixed charges cannot be avoided by adding a battery and would need to be paid regardless of whether the solar customer exports energy to the electric grid.
“Every solar customer should be asking why they are discriminated against, but not those customers who have rarely used vacation homes, invest in energy efficiency, have small homes, or otherwise have pay lower utility bills.
“Second, the dramatic change from the current NEM policy will reduce customer adoption of clean energy in California at a time when more is needed to meet the state’s climate goals and to provide more energy resiliency in the face of unprecedented wildfires and grid outages.
“Finally, reducing the length of the grandfathering period short-changes customers who made an investment in solar under rules that promised consistent policy over the life of their system.
“Changing the rules in the middle of the game will make it less likely for customers to trust that other CPUC Decisions won’t later be reversed,” the notice says.
The petition notes that California Public Utilities Commission could vote on whether to adopt the NEM 3.0 proposal as soon as January 27, 2022, and are taking feedback from the public until that time. To read about the details of California’s proposed rooftop solar reforms, click here.