5 Things To Know in the Final Weeks of NEM 2.0
Update: NEM 3.0 took effect on April 15, 2023 and the window to grandfather new solar systems into NEM 2.0 is closed. If you submitted an interconnection agreement on or before April 14, 2023, your system can still be grandfathered into NEM 2.0 even if your utility reviews and approves your application after the submission deadline.
On April 15, 2023, a new solar billing plan known as NEM 3.0 will replace NEM 2.0 for customers of California’s three investor-owned utilities (IOUs).
If you’re reading this article, you probably have an idea of what’s going on. If not, here’s a quick refresher:
- The savings of going solar under the new NEM 3.0 solar billing plan will be substantially lower than under NEM 2.0
- Existing solar systems will remain under their current net metering policy for 20 years from the date they received permission to operate
- To grandfather a new system into NEM 2.0, you must submit a complete interconnection application by April 14, 2023
And that brings us to today: The last call for NEM 2.0.
With the deadline weeks away, homeowners are rushing to go solar in order to lock in NEM 2.0 and the California solar industry – including solar.com – has adapted and streamlined the solar process
The name of the game is to get a solar system designed and approved as fast as possible so your installer can submit an interconnection application by April 14.
With that in mind, here are five things you should know about going solar in the final weeks of NEM 2.0.
Preparation is key
Let’s say you’re late for a flight. One thing you might do to speed things up is have your ID and boarding pass ready in your hand instead of zipped inside a bag.
The same concept applies to going solar in the final weeks of NEM 2.0. One thing you can do to speed up the process is to come prepared with the following items.
- All pages of your utility bill. Your utility bill has crucial information for sizing and interconnecting your solar system. Provide all pages of your bill and make sure it includes your meter number, account number, usage, and rate plan.
- Photos of your electrical panel. Provide photos of your electrical panel to show the main breaker/busbar and the label. It’s common for electrical panel labels to be worn and tough to read, but it’s very helpful to have that information. Take time to zoom in if needed – the more pictures the better!
By providing this information upfront, you may be able to forego scheduling a site visit and further expedite the solar process.
Installers have different cutoff dates for getting into NEM 2
California solar installers are doing their best to grandfather as many systems into NEM 2.0 as possible while also being realistic about their capacity to do so.
At solar.com, we are in constant contact with our installer partners and have asked them to provide a cutoff date for when customers need to sign a solar contract in order to be grandfathered into NEM 2.0. These dates range from March 1 all the way to April 14.
The closer we get to the NEM 3.0 deadline, the fewer installers there will be to choose from. With that in mind, the “best” installer for your project is the one that can get your interconnection application in by April 14.
Pro tip: Be wary of solar installers overpromising or guaranteeing they can grandfather your system into NEM 2.0. Any reputable installer will tell you that there are no guarantees.
You may be asked to wait to pair your solar system with battery storage
While there are several advantages to pairing solar with battery storage in California, battery storage adds extra time and steps to the solar process.
And, in case you haven’t noticed, time is of the essence.
The good news is that you can add battery storage to your solar system later and still retain your NEM 2.0 status. So, the idea is to focus on locking in NEM 2.0 first, then circle back to battery storage later.
People are bending over backwards to get your system into NEM 2.0
The NEM 3.0 solar billing plan was approved on December 15, 2022 and allowed just 120 days for IOU customers to grandfather new systems into NEM 2.0.
For reference, the solar process typically takes 3-5 months. So, 120 days is a very short window.
But in this time, numerous people in the solar industry have bent over backwards to help as many homeowners as possible lock in NEM 2.0 and maximum solar savings.
- Policy experts poring over the 260-page NEM 3.0 decision, interpreting it into plain English, and providing a roadmap for grandfathering solar systems
- Solar installers streamlining their process and putting in the extra effort to accommodate as many customers as possible
- Energy Advisors putting in months of long days to answer questions, design systems, set homeowners up for success
And let’s not forget the solar advocacy groups that spent years fighting – and substantially improving – NEM 3.0 on behalf of California solar owners.
Much of this work happens behind the scenes and without it the window to go solar under NEM 2.0 would have closed long ago.
Missing the NEM 2.0 deadline is not the end of the world
Finally, it’s important to remember that although solar savings are greater under NEM 2.0, there is still plenty of money to be saved by going solar under NEM 3.0.
In fact, the energy cost savings of going solar under NEM 3.0 will still be much greater than going solar in most places. There’s a few reasons for that:
- California electricity prices are among the highest in the US and expected to rise at 9-10% per year over the next few years
- Solar and battery storage provide backup power during power outages, which increased 78% from 2011-2021
- California’s abundant sunshine makes going solar cheaper than most places (more sun = fewer panels = less money)
That’s not to mention the environmental benefits of rooftop solar, the increased home value, and taking control over your electricity rate.
We absolutely encourage you to try to go solar under NEM 2.0 to maximize your savings – but be careful not to step over a twenty dollar bill to pick up a one. If you miss the deadline, there is still plenty of incentive to go solar under NEM 3.0.