With the popularity of solar energy systems growing exponentially, Turlock Irrigation District is making the necessary adjustments to accommodate more solar customers, while still remaining fair to non-solar customers.
“There are some changes coming in the way solar is handled in the state of California and TID is doing our best to try and position ourselves so that we are fair and do not have any artificial barrier to solar,” said Brian LaFollette, TID's assistant general manager of power supply.
At their last meeting, the TID Board of Trustees approved a 5 percent cap for installed net metering, pursuant to Public Utilities Code 2827.
This cap, which was calculated according to a formula used by the California Public Utilities Commission, states that after TID reaches a cap of 27.81 megawatts of solar generation, it is not obligated to provide net energy metering to additional customer-generators in its service area.
“By setting this five percent, TID is not saying no more solar,” said Energy Strategy Department Manager Amy Petersen. “We just want to communicate clearly to others that when we reach this number that it is going to be the trigger point for changes occurring in how new solar customers work under our rules and tariffs.”
Customers interested in solar will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. When the limit is hit, new solar installations will no longer qualify for the current net metering program, which includes the opportunity to aggregate multiple solar systems or being netted on an annual basis.
The cap will remain for a period of five years, and then recalculated every five years thereafter using current values.
In addition to approving a cap for net metering, the Board also approved aggregate net metering for solar customers.
Under Senate Bill 594, which was signed into law in 2012, customers are given the option to aggregate one or more solar systems located at contiguous meters on their property and net both of them as if they were a single service.
Before approving aggregate net metering for TID, the Board was required by the California Public Utilities Code to first make a determination on whether aggregation causes an increase in costs to customers not seeking aggregation. At the last meeting, TID staff presented its findings that no incremental rate impact exists.
LaFollette stated that with aggregation there are definite advantages for the customer, including eliminating the need to put in a new solar installation and acquiring separate permitting.
“Aggregation provides a large advantage for our solar customers at really no disadvantage to the district or the remainder of our customers,” concluded LaFollette.
For more information about TID's solar program, go to: http://tid.org/for-business/rebates/solar-rebate-program