Many people dropped a lot of cash fitting their homes with solar panels and systems in an effort to be more environmentally friendly while also saving some money. But let’s be honest here, there were some people decided to make solar power additions to their homes to save money first, and be environmentally friendly second. Unfortunately for them, as The New York Times reports, home solar arrays may not help cut utility bills as much as they originally hoped.
For example, Pacific Gas & Electric has recently made changes to the rate schedules of many customers, now charging more for electricity drawn from the grid in the evening and paying customers less for excess power their solar panels give back to the grid. This means for some who spent around $20,000 on a home solar array, the investment may never pay for itself as originally planned.
All across the country utilities are fighting to end retail-rate credits for customers who send energy back to the grid, make customers pay mandatory monthly fees called demand charges, and institute other rate design measures that will make home solar systems much less appealing.
As solar power forces utility companies to rethink their old rate system, a bumpy transition should be expected, writes The New York Times’ Diane Cardwell. A whole new rate system is needed that can accurately value electricity that now flows in different directions and at different volumes at different times of the day.