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Changes in TID solar rates come to light
solar energy photo1
The Turlock Irrigation District is no longer obligated to continue California net metering to additional solar power customer-generators in its service area. - photo by Journal file photo

The Turlock Irrigation District Board of Trustees continued talks on Tuesday on how to deal with new solar customers in light of the district reaching its previously established peak of 27.81 megawatts of solar generation, or 5 percent net metering cap.

The district is no longer obligated to continue California net metering to additional customer-generators in its service area.  As a result, TID staff went before the Board of Trustees to present their recommended rate design for solar customers at a public hearing on Tuesday, which was met with mixed opinions from solar customers and providers.

“I definitely support the direction TID and staff is trying to go. I just think they need to tweak it and make some minor adjustments, such as allowing people to reconcile their usage and solar generation on an annual basis versus a monthly basis,” said director of business development at JKB Energy Rich Borba. “It would go a long way for customers having the choice to go solar, and still allow TID to achieve their stated goal of fairness for all rate payers.”

What Borba is referring to is the staff’s recommendation detailing monthly net metering. Prior to meeting its peak, TID netted solar customers over the year, allowing them to possibly generate power in January in order to offset bills in July.

TID staff also recommended that the district use a two block time-of-use design for collecting energy charge, which according to assistant general manager of power supply Brian LaFollette, means that the time that a solar customer generates power will largely define how much they would have to pay.

“The two block time-of-use design divides the day into on peak and off peak time, so we will have corresponding prices for each,” explained LaFollette.

The recommendation also included paying customers the short-run marginal cost for generation above consumption and charge a demand charge, which is widely used and a proven method, according to staff.

Prior to reaching its peak, customers who signed up for solar were able to pay for service under their Otherwise Applicable Rate Service (OARS), continue to net meter under the rules of Residential Net Metering (RNT) or Non-Residential Net Metering (NNT) rate schedule, and have the ability to aggregate their solar generation over multiple meters.

“I hope that our public hearing brought a broader understanding to more people regarding how solar is integrated in the utility system and how we implement rates fairly,” said LaFollette. “It would have been great if everybody in the district could have been at hearing together.”