Meter Aggregation Rules Approved

A Barrier to Renewable Energy Removed for solar on Burroughs farmCalifornia Farms & Ranches

As of Feb. 21st, many of California’s farms, schools and businesses can now officially benefit from new rules approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) which allows for the aggregation of renewable energy generation under the Net Energy Metering (NEM) program. These rules were implemented at the direction of Senate Bill 594, passed in 2012 and authored by Senator Lois Wolk. They currently only apply to PG&E customers; approval for customers of other electric utilities is expected to follow soon.

This change has a very practical effect for growers who are NEM customers or might want to be. NEM allows producers of renewable energy (such as solar, wind or bioenergy produced on farms) to be credited for the energy they produce, making the installation of clean energy systems economically viable.

Farms and ranches typically have multiple electrical meters on their property. Prior to the passage of SB 594, California law prohibited the power generated by an on-site renewable facility to be counted against other meters. Consequently, farmers would have to install a separate wind turbine or set of solar panels for each individual meter if they wished to receive credit across their operation as a whole—an extremely inefficient and cost-prohibitive process. As a result, many potential clean energy producers opted to undersize their systems or avoid installing them altogether. Instead, the CPUC decision allows agricultural producers and others to get the credit they deserve for maximizing clean energy production in the most efficient ways possible.

“California farmers already lead the nation in renewable energy production, and smart, sensible policymaking helps them set that curve,” said Senator Lois Wolk, who authored SB 594. “I am pleased that our legislation allowing meter aggregation will enable more growers to save money, help the environment, and meet the state’s renewable energy targets.”

Senator Wolk’s legislation received support from a wide range of agricultural businesses and organizations, including CalCAN, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Wine Institute, and the Agricultural Energy Consumers Association.

California leads the nation in on-farm production of renewable energy, and our farms and ranches have the ability to produce even more clean, affordable, electricity. The implementation of SB 594 is an important step toward unleashing that untapped potential.

For more information on this new rule and to get involved in future CalCAN actions supporting on-farm renewable energy and energy efficiency, contact Adam Kotin at adam@calclimateag.org or (916) 442-2042.

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