Article by:
Austin Young
February 6, 2023
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CPUC NEM Update: Huge Win for CA Shared Solar Projects

On December 15, 2022, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted on their new proposed decision (PD), which included a big win for the multifamily and multi-unit market. The PD will revise the Net Energy Metering (NEM) tariff for single family homes, but they are not making changes to the Virtual Net Energy Metering (VNEM) sub-tariff at this time.

“The Commission finds that the record in this proceeding does not contain a sufficient analysis of the VNEM and NEMA tariffs. In comments to the proposed decision, Ivy Energy correctly asserts that the Lookback Study omits any analysis of VNEM or the multifamily sector as a distinct customer class.” - Direct Quote from the CPUC’s Proposed Decision

Ivy Helps Secure No Changes to VNEM Tariff 

One of our core values is advocating for our customers and influencing policy. That was the driving force behind our involvement in the NEM 3.0 proceedings, as we saw that the multifamily sector was severely underrepresented in the proceedings. Standing up for our customers is part of our commitment to our mission of helping more people and communities realize the financial and environmental benefits of solar. But, to successfully impact the outcome of major policy changes is cause for celebration and cements our continued role in future VNEM decisions.

Ivy’s VNEM Advocacy

VNEM is the key policy that enables multifamily owners to monetize onsite solar panels. Yet, the CPUC’s lookback study and original proposal overlooked the fact that all of their data came from the single-family home market. With VNEM projects only accounting for 1% of the live solar projects in California, changing the VNEM tariff this early in adoption and without proper data could effectively cripple the future of the market.

Ivy made several points in their comments on the NEM 3.0 docket:

  • The CPUC should perform a deeper analysis of the multifamily solar market before making changes to VNEM.
  • Highlighting the opportunity to improve equity between renters and homeowners.
  • Countered false claims made by investor-owned utilities that VNEM systems don’t serve onsite load.
  • Showed crucial evidence that multifamily solar assets could greatly benefit the electric grid.

Securing the Future of Multifamily Solar

Ivy Energy will work with the CPUC in 2023 through a multifamily-specific workshop to analyze the unique factors influencing multifamily solar adoption and outcomes. This will provide the CPUC with a better understanding of the split incentive issue and others that are key contributors to multifamily solar adoption being about 10 years behind the residential solar market. In the meantime, customers who apply for VNEM before April 15th will be locked into the NEM 2.0 tariff for 20 years, and those applying after April 15th will be locked into the NEM 2.0 tariff for 9 years before transitioning to a future tariff. This allows the multifamily market a much longer runway of opportunity to catch up with the solar adoption of the single-family market, and Ivy will be there every step of the way to advocate and help building owners monetize onsite solar.

"We are thrilled that the CPUC has decided to further evaluate VNEM before making changes," said Dover Janis, CEO of Ivy Energy. "This decision will allow us to continue to develop and operate VNEM solar projects that provide clean energy and cost savings for California residents, while also creating jobs and economic opportunities in the state."