If you’ve been keeping up with California’s energy scene, you may have heard that the proposed NEM 3.0 policy is looking less favorable for private solar system owners. In short, the NEM 3.0 policy would impose new fees and reduce how much customers are credited for excess solar energy production. While this proposal is disappointing, there are several reasons to stay positive about the future of solar.
1. The NEM 3.0 decision has been delayed
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), who will decide the contents of NEM 3.0, has delayed their decision until at least February 24th. We are hopeful that the significant public outcry over the most recent proposal has made an impact at the CPUC. Solar workers, customers, environmental groups, and even celebrities (thanks, Incredible Hulks!) have raised their voices.
2. The governor may weigh in on NEM 3.0
While the CPUC will make the final NEM 3.0 policy, California Governor Newsom has started weighing in on the proposal. He recently opened up NEM 3.0 during a recent budget press conference. When asked if he was worried about the policy hurting rooftop solar, Newsom responded that “more work needs to be done” and then continued, “do I think changes need to be made? Yes I do.”
The governor also alluded to multiple parties being in conversation about the NEM 3.0 proposal. Public debate about this most recent policy draft has been lively, with contributions from multiple stakeholders. Here at Sunworks, we have certainly been vocal about changing NEM to better support solar.
3. Solar energy costs continue to fall
Thanks to advances in technology, more customer adoption, and regulatory support, solar energy costs have fallen tremendously in recent years. In 2020, the International Energy Agency declared that well-designed solar power systems are the “cheapest electricity in history” We are hopeful that this positive trend will continue thanks to continued advances in the field.
The US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) has noted that innovations in one aspect of solar production can overflow to other areas, such as more efficient photovoltaic modules leading to simpler and less expensive installs overall. In our own operations, Sunworks is using the Rapid Rack system to speed up install times and reduce costs.
4. Energy storage options are expanding
Lastly, improved energy storage also stands to improve the solar experience for system owners. For years, solar customers remained dependent on the grid for power at night or during periods of low solar production. Now, developments in battery technology make it possible for many solar owners to have a fully self-powered system. With advanced battery options, excess energy production can be stored and drawn upon later. These battery improvements are definitely impacting the conversation on the future of independent, renewable energy options. Recent data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that the costs for photovoltaics plus storage are falling. What’s more, government initiatives like California’s Carl Moyer Program are beginning to include support for energy storage.
In short, as we wait out the NEM 3.0 decision, our team at Sunworks wants to share optimism with solar supporters and customers. Whatever the next few months bring, we will continue to advocate for solar owners and to support innovation in the industry.