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Green Building News

California Regulators Side With Solar

The state's public utility commission clears the way for PV installers to hook up battery-backed systems, ending a 12-month impasse

Battery-backed PV systems get a green light in California. California regulators are proposing to clear red tape and fees that have prevented the installation of hundreds of battery-backed solar systems.
Image Credit: SolarCity

Hundreds of battery-backed PV installations that have been delayed by red tape and extra fees should be connected to the grid under a proposed decision from state regulators, Greentech Media reports.

The California Public Utilities Commission decision breaks a 12-month deadlock during which three state utilities have demanded extensive reviews and fees of as much as $3,700 before a system could be installed, the website says.

Utilities claimed they were motivated by safety concerns, and by fears that homeowners would use batteries to store grid electricity and then sell it back to the utility under net-metering arrangements.

But the April 15 decision exempts most of these systems from extra fees and interconnection studies, Greentech Media writes. SolarCity had said that only 12 of 500 customers who had signed up for its solar systems had been connected to the grid because of the fees and delays.

SolarCity in March said it wouldn’t file any additional applications for installing the systems until the logjam was broken, but Bloomberg reports the company has resumed filing applications.

Unlike off-grid photovoltaic systems, these battery-backed systems are still connected to the grid. Batteries can store electricity for later use. SolarCity’s Chief Commercial Officer Peter Rive says that feature should make them attractive to utilities because they can help manage grid loads and costs.

A number of conditions were included with the proposed ruling, including limits on battery size and a requirement that certain systems have an extra meter. Proposed decisions are typically made final, and in this case a final ruling could be released as early as mid-May, Bloomberg says.

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