Letting Solar Shine: An Argument to Temper the Over-the-Fence Rule

Lindl, Tim
November 2009
Ecology Law Quarterly;2009, Vol. 36 Issue 4, p851
Academic Journal
California over-the-fence rule prevents the distribution of excess power from a solar energy producer to more than two nearby properties or to any neighboring property that is not adjacent to the property where the electricity is generated. This investment-choking regulation stunts the growth of renewable and distributed electricity. The over-the-fence rule's purpose is to protect utilities from competition, guard consumers from unfair practices, and promote grid reliability. However, each of these justifications is insufficient to warrant the existence of a rule that restricts investment in California's distributed generation potential. The over- the -fence rule protects a regulatory consensus that no longer exists, is redundant in its prevention of consumer abuses, and makes grid reliability worse instead of better. California should ease the over-the-fence rule's grip on electricity generators to a point that neither allows investor-owned utilities to escape regulation nor limits essential investments in distributed generation.


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