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Solar Fracas Casts Shadow In Redding


Things got a bit testy at last night’s Redding City Council meeting after several owners of local solar companies complained about a council vote from the last meeting being apparently misinterpreted by the City Manager.


Several owners came forward to vent their frustration over a change to the wording of a contract that customers who purchase solar for their home are required to sign in order to obtain payment from the Redding Electric Utility when they generate more power than they use and their meters run backwards in what is known as “net metering.”


Two weeks ago the REU had proposed doing away with that payment, much to the chagrin of people who already had purchased solar and signed 30 year contract with the city utility..

At that meeting the council voted to leave things as they are, and form a committee to look into the issue. The item was supposed to come back to the council after the committee came to its conclusion.


But last night several owners of solar companies told the council that the REU had already changed some of the verbiage in the contract, leaving them perplexed. That also seemed to catch council member Michael Daquisto by surprise and he then questioned City Manager Barry Tippin about the issue.


“Could you explain why you changed the REU contract, after the council directed you not to?” Daquisto said. 


Tippin explained that the only change that was made was some wording that would provide the consumer with notice that the contract may change at some time in the future.


“If you sign up for solar you get today, you get the rates that are in place that is the full net metering that we’ve had for 10 to 15 years.” Tippin explained. “At some point in the future the council may change that.  And so we did that move simply to be fully transparent and for consumer protection.”


But that didn’t seem to sit well with Daquisto, prompting this exchange.


“Did you make this decision on your own?  I did that in concert with REU yes. So you didn’t come back to the council and say I’m unclear on what we were directing you to do? Did not.  And the reason for that again is what you just said? Yes.” Daquisto said.


But that seemed to be the end of the matter, in public at least.  Since the item was not agendised no action could be taken. But one can assume that discussions will continue behind closed doors, and will be back in public when the committee finishes its work in about 6 months.