This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 09, 2003

California's Small, Clean Power Generators Avoid Extra Fees

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a decision on April 3rd that will exempt customers using small, clean power generators—including solar, wind, and fuel cell systems—from extra power surcharges. In creating the exemption, the CPUC noted that it was "removing barriers to installation of clean customer-owned generation and removing the cloud of uncertainty that has been discouraging customers from investing in systems."

In late 2002, the state instituted a surcharge on so-called "direct access" customers—customers that had left their traditional utilities to buy power from independent energy suppliers. The surcharge was imposed to assure that these customers shared the financial burden of recovering from California's energy crisis of 2000 and 2001. Although some had argued that the same surcharge should be applied to self-generated power, the CPUC decided on April 3rd to exempt small, clean power generators "on the basis of broader public policy to encourage self-generation and the use of renewable resources." For specific rules regarding the exemption, see the CPUC press release, and for background on the surcharge, see the CPUC's November 2002 press release.