California regulators have once again signaled they are serious about encouraging consumers to install more rooftop solar units throughout the state. In a 3-2 decision Jan. 28, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted in favor of the Net Energy Metering rule — also known as NEM 2.0 — to preserve a previous retail net metering rule that allows solar customers to receive payments for energy they sell back to the grid.

A group of California electric utilities had proposed lowering retail rates and adding monthly fixed fees and demand charges for rooftop sousers. The utilities had suggested that the fees and demand charges were necessary to offset the continuing fixed costs of maintaining grid connections for retail customers. The CPUC decision (PDF) also rejected the fees and demand charges.

The decision also makes time-of-use (TOU) rates mandatory for all new solar rooftop customers of Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison.

The latest NEM 2.0 decision follows two noteworthy rooftop solar decisions late last year in which regulators reverted to wholesale rates. In Hawaii, regulators eliminated NEM reimbursement programs for residential solar customers in favor of two new remuneration options. And in Nevada, regulators also cut back net metering rates for new and existing solar systems.

The ruling in California is a major win for the state’s photovoltaic solar industry, whose representatives have estimated that California solar users could see $1.6 billion in annual benefits.

In announcing the decision, the CPUC said the aim was to give consumers more energy options and was not intended to favor the solar industry over utilities.

To learn more about the California decision, check out this article from Utility Dive. And if you’d like to learn more about how this decision will affect utilities, comment below or reach out on LinkedIn and I’d be happy to chat.

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Robert Healy leads the Business & Technology Services Group of Burns & McDonnell in Phoenix. He has more than 20 years of experience in the energy industry, with a focus on renewables.