The future of local distributed energy resources (DERs) hangs on the savings these projects can generate. In only a few years, savings generated by rooftop solar have enabled more and more Californians –including those of moderate- and even low-income – to see their solar investments pay off.
Yet these savings rely on the credit the DER earns for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) it generates. The CPUC sets those credits in the Net Energy Metering (NEM) proceeding, the current installment of which has been underway since summer 2020.
A little-known tool lies at the heart of this debate about the “value of solar”. The “Avoided Cost Calculator” (ACC) was created for the CPUC to provide a common and “objective” mechanism to value different attributes that collectively comprise the “value of solar”.
In point of fact, however, the ACC embodies an array of highly debatable assumptions. In this call, the Alliance discussed its latest short paper, The Avoided Cost Calculator and Why It Matters.
A look under the hood of this obscure calculator shows it skips many attributes that solar users value – like job benefits and local energy control. Examining what IS included in the ACC reveals several highly questionable assumptions. By spotlighting the ACC’s flaws, we gain ammunition to fight against the utilities’ proposed NEM changes and their efforts to undermine the future of not only decentralized local rooftop solar, but of all DERs that generate kWh they can no longer sell us.