SMUD trying to keep solar off new homes

The Sacramento-area utility, SMUD, is back with another anti-solar proposal.

The once cutting edge public utility is now pushing to gut the state’s new plan to put solar panels and batteries into new home construction. SMUD’s “alternative” plan instead locks new homeowners into being 100% dependent on SMUD for at least twenty years, and denies thousands of new homeowners and renters the savings and security of rooftop solar and battery storage.

We’re working to stop SMUD’s anti-solar home proposal. You should, too.

SMUD’s latest plan is just about as bad as their proposal last Spring to crush solar users with a new monthly fee (which was scrapped after a public outcry).

Background: The state wants solar on all new homes. That’s good.
Here’s the background: Starting in January 2020, the state will require newly built homes to have solar on them and encourage the addition of a battery as well. Putting solar on homes during construction lowers the upfront cost and saves residents a ton of money on their energy bill over the long run. And with a battery, homeowners can keep the power on during blackouts. Solar is good for consumers and it is here to stay, so it just makes sense to build it into our new construction as a standard feature, just like double-paned windows and insulation.

SMUD wants to keep solar off all new homes. That’s nuts.
But now SMUD is trying to cut a deal that would keep solar off new homes in the Sacramento area. SMUD would also make it harder for new homeowners to add solar or battery storage after they buy the home!

SMUD claims their plan is better than rooftop solar because they will supply energy from SMUD’s solar farms. But it isn’t a better deal at all. SMUD’s plan will save new residents just $20 per year on average – a pittance compared to the savings from rooftop solar.

Take action: Stop SMUD from killing solar on new homes.

SMUD’s proposal (called SolarShares) in a nutshell

  • SMUD cuts a deal with builders and the government to keep solar off new homes.
  • SMUD’s “deal” also makes it harder for residents of these new homes to add solar and battery storage for twenty years.
  • SMUD uses an accounting trick to make it seem like they are supplying those homes with energy from SMUD’s solar farms when in actuality these farms would have been built anyway.
  • SMUD pretends they are giving residents a great deal by crediting them around $20 per year. As any solar homeowner will tell you, going solar promises much greater savings than $20 per year. [1]
  • SMUD locks homeowners into being 100% dependent on the grid, without the ability to keep the lights on when the power goes out.

There’s an easy way out for SMUD: scrap their plan and go back to supporting rooftop solar.

The California Energy Commission has the power to deny SMUD’s proposal, but will they?
It makes sense that they do, since these are the officials who created the Solar Homes program to begin with. That’s the point we made in Solar Rights Alliance’s letter of opposition to the CEC:

Your Solar Homes plan captured the imagination of the nation, and world, by making the clean energy homes of the future a reality now. SMUD’s proposal would undermine your accomplishment in one fell swoop, and leave new homeowners, new renters and our community worse off as a result.

For an even more in-depth analysis of SMUD’s proposal, see the comments filed by the solar industry.

Take action and stay tuned!

[1] SMUD says Solar Shares will save residents $5/kw/year. The average home system is between 2 and 4 kilowatts. At $5/kw/year, that’s between $10 and $20 / year. Here’s SMUD’s proposal, with the details. Email us if you have any questions about it.