SAN DIEGO — Despite strong opposition, the California Public Utilities Commission recently announced it is again proposing a tax for solar users.
The proposal also slashes the credit customers get for their solar energy sent back to the grid. Right now, solar users pay a monthly fee to SDG&E for special programs and wear and tear on the grid, but this tax is more than that.
The CPUC’s latest solar tax proposal would tax users $300-$600 a year. In fact, the less electricity you use, the more solar tax you would pay.
Karinna Gonzalez works for a clean energy non-profit organization in San Diego. She added solar panels back in December when she heard of CPUC’s first solar tax proposal for all new solar customers.
The proposal also affects current customers. They would get the tax after 15 years.
“It's really discouraging when we're trying to do our part for the environment and get solar energy and then we're penalized for it,” said Gonzalez. “It's like charging people who air-dry their clothes instead of putting it in the dryer. It goes against every principle of conservation."
The utilities argue it fixes a cost shift where solar owners do not pay their fair share of grid maintenance costs, which are then shifted to non-solar customers. But the solar industry argues solar lowers the cost of infrastructure because rooftop solar doesn’t require expensive long distance power lines that cost so much to build and maintain.
By January, the CPUC took a step back and delayed its planned for indefinitely after Governor Newsom said the proposal needed to change.
But on May 9, the CPUC made a new proposal.
Critics say it’s basically the same thing. Right now, solar customers get a credit on their bills for surplus energy they put back on the grid. The proposal slashes that credit. If it doesn’t seem to make sense for customers, remember San Diego pays the highest utility rates in the nation.
“Right now, is the time when we should be expanding solar access to communities, not taking it away,” said Gonzalez. “The economics don't make sense for anybody it's going to make it extremely hard especially for working families,"
The CPUC President is Governor Newsom’s former energy advisor.
WATCH RELATED: San Diego County Taxpayers Association supports 'sunshine tax' on solar (March 2022)