Graduation Date

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Program

Master of Science degree with a major in Environmental Systems, option Energy, Technology, and Policy

Committee Chair Name

Kevin Fingerman

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Arne Jacobson

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Peter Alstone

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environmental Systems

Abstract

When Northern California Community Choice Aggregation Programs (CCAs) took over the role of sourcing electricity from the incumbent utility (Pacific Gas and Electric, or PG&E), they also made changes to how solar customers were treated. In the Humboldt, Sonoma, Marin, and San Mateo County regions, solar customers that were net exporters of electricity received an additional $0.01/kWh credit on the generation portion of their bill. This policy is inherited from one CCA to another, and, given the CCAs are projected to serve 18 million Californians by 2020 (Cal CCA, 2018), understanding its impact - on a solar customer's bottom line and on the local solar market - is critical for the future of the vibrant California solar industry. When a hypothetical Northern California residential customer with typical electricity consumption installs a system that offsets 100% of their annual load, the Humboldt County approach provides an estimated $13/year in additional value (in the form of end-of-year bill credits) relative to a bundled PG&E customer. When that annual load offset is raised to 110%, the Humboldt County approach provides an additional estimated $32/year. An analysis of the number residential solar installations before and after a CCA's implementation could not isolate them as a factor that grew the local solar market; average monthly installs rose, but that increase was strongly correlated with broader trends, including falling costs. Interviews with solar contractors revealed that, while viewed as a positive gesture, this policy has not been proven to move the financial needle for potential customers.

Citation Style

APA

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