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Council extends solar metering program

Energy credits still available for customers installing solar panels

If you live in Palo Alto and are considering rooftop solar, the Palo Alto City Council has extended the eligibility deadline for enrollment in the city's Net Energy Metering program, in which customers with solar power on their homes sell (or receive credit for) energy they don't use daily to the city.

New customers can sign up for the program through Dec. 31. Those who already have applied to the program but have not yet completed the installation of their panels for final program approval have been given an additional six months to complete the process from the time of their application. Anyone whose application expired prior to Dec. 12 will need to reapply for the program.

Customers enrolled in the program are guaranteed to receive the same energy credits for 20 years.

The city formally adopted the metering program in October 2015 to meet a state requirement, which calls for all utilities to establish net-energy-metering programs up to a certain limit: 5 percent of peak load. In Palo Alto's case, the cap on this resident-produced energy is 10.8 megawatts.

All utility customers who installed solar before Nov. 14, 2016, were automatically enrolled in the program.

The city changed the enrollment process after this date to allow customers to reserve a place in the program after the utilities department anticipated that it would reach its cap before the end of 2017. Applicants who signed purchase or lease contracts for solar panels after November 2016 were able to reserve a place in the metering program through a first-come, first-served process that allowed them six months to complete their interconnection agreement with the city for final program approval.

The council said the program will be extended into 2018 if it does not reach the 10.8-megawatts threshold for solar installations prior to the end of the year. Once the cap has been reached, the program will end, and new solar customers will then have the option to enroll in a successor program with different energy credits.

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— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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