How does your true up work when you have solar with both PG&E and Sonoma Clean Power (SCP)?
One of the most often asked questions I get is how does your true up work when you go solar. While a little complicated, let’s pack our bag with a few tidbits before I begin.
The State of California allowed Community Choice Aggregation (CCA’s) a few years back to allow local communities more control over how power was generated in their areas. Except for the City of Healdsburg, which has their own power company, the county and the other eight cities have opted into SCP, and it’s now available to both commercial and residential customers.
Power is divided into three main areas: transmission, distribution, and generation. In our area, PG&E handles distribution and transmission and you have a choice to use SCP or PG&E for generation.
The cost for SCP and PG&E are relatively close, so why go with SCP? SCP offers cleaner power (less fossil fuel and no nuclear), promotes local jobs, and local control and when going solar, a better return on over-generated power.
How Does True-Up Really Work?
So how does the true-up work? With solar, you have two true-ups, an annual one with PG&E and a monthly one with SCP. Let’s start with PG&E. PG&E has implemented a minimum $10 a month bill; this cannot be offset by solar. The bill I will be using is my bill in these examples. So as you can see below independent of how much I use, 665 kWh in this case, my electric bill is $9.53.
My true-up bill with PG&E is usually zero as my system is now overproducing since my children moved out. So other than the $120 ($10 a month) I pay annually, I have no additional charges, other than gas. Both PG&E and SCP will pay you for over generation of power (I believe SCP pays much better), and it will depend on which you have chosen as your generation provider.
If PG&E is your generation provider, you will get your payment at time of sum-up. If you do have more usage then solar benefit, then this is the time you get to pay for the year’s charges over solar benefit.
For SCP, the sum-up is monthly, with an April payout. So what this means is depending on the month with SCP, you will generate a credit (solar produces more benefit then usage), or when usage exceeds solar benefit, use a credit if available or pay on your bill. So in my case, you can see I did not have a charge on the front page of my bill.
The charges are minimum, as discussed above, and indicate my gas usage (some homes in Sonoma County do not have gas bills as they are entirely electric, or they use propane).
Starting about October 1, I start using up the credits I have generated all summer long. In the bill below you can see I had a charge of $8.16 from SCP and this went against my credit, leaving a credit balance of $453.40.
This is my favorite part of the bill to look at as it shows me how much credit I have going into winter. When winter is over and at the end of April, if I still have over $100 in credits then SCP sends me a check – no request needed. If my credit is under $100, it just rolls forward to the next year.
It is often frustrating and not a lot of fun to read a PG&E bill, and with solar it can be a lot more enjoyable as you watch how solar can offset most of your costs and in some cases, like mine, even be a small source of revenue.