State regulators Wednesday stalled SDG&E's proposal to charge residential and commercial users of solar power a "network use charge" (NUC).
The fee—part of an overall rate restructuring effort by the utility—would have added up to $30 to monthly utility bills for homeowners using solar energy who are connected to the power grid.
The non-profit Utilities Consumers Action Network (UCAN) filed a motion before the California Public Utilities Commission in December stating that the fee violated state law and asking the commission to require SDG&E to resubmit its plan without the proposed fee. The commission Wednesday granted the UCAN motion in part, requiring SDG&E to resubmit the proposal without the fee by Feb. 17, 2012. The ruling is subject to appeal within 10 days.
SDG&E claimed that rooftop solar customers need to pay more to make up for the costs of connecting to the grid and maintaining infrastructure and that non-solar customers are subsidizing them.
Critics of the fee—including politicians and green energy proponents—said the fee was designed to protect SDG&E's profit model, rather than allowing consumers to benefit from clean solar energy.
The proposed fee is part of SDG&E's wider rate restructuring effort.
County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, an opponent of the fee, released a statement.
"Thankfully, the CPUC saw through the utility's distortions. The proposal was dead on arrival because it wasn't crafted for fairness; it was designed to kill off competition from solar providers. San Diegans should never forget how SDG&E forced struggling public agencies to spend time and attorney's fees fighting an illegal plan crafted without any input from the people impacted by it," Jacob said.
—City News Service contributed to this report.