State solar users would lose savings if proposal is OKd; SolarCity describes 'catastrophic' future

Tired of growing electricity bills, Miguel Espinoza decided to turn to the sun, rather than the grid, for power.

The Inglewood resident signed in March with solar leasing giant SolarCity to fix his electric bills at $130 a month — down from the $250 to $300 he had been paying.

Those savings, however, would eventually evaporate if state regulators approve proposals from California utilities to charge solar users more for their connection to the grid.

"This thing would be worthless to me," Espinoza said.

Existing rooftop solar customers would receive some exemptions from the net-metering changes for 20 years after they installed their systems. But their costs still could rise because of separate regulatory changes, already enacted, that allow higher rates for users who buy small amounts of electricity from the grid.

For new purchases of rooftop solar, the utility proposals could wipe out the potential savings on power — the main incentive for buying the systems.

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