Going Solar Gets Easier in Coachella Valley

Daytona Everett

PALM DESERT – Riverside County ordered the Imperial Irrigation District, or IDD, to bring back net metering, a rooftop solar program on Tuesday.

Imperial and Coachella Valley are considered two of the “renewable energy capitals of the world.”

Vincent Battaglia, CEO of Renova Energy, said he’s been speaking out in favor of the mandate ever since the Imperial Irrigation District, or IID, stopped net metering three years ago.

In simple terms, it’s the relationship between a solar owner and a utility which lets you gain credits.

Battaglia said he received calls all the time that said, “How come it’s going to take me twenty years to get a return on my investment in solar yet my neighbor, who lives in Southern California Edison, across the street, his system pays for itself in five years.”

So, will this raise your bill or lower it?

IID said it doesn’t know how this mandate will affects its customers.

“We still have to send crews out that will lay the infrastructure, put in the equipment, hook up the wires, and transformers, and all that stuff that goes with it,” Bob Schuttler, communications director of IDD, said. “There will always be an expense.”

Schuttler said the cost is too high and might end up falling on its customers, including those without solar panels.

According to Battaglia, the cost is manageable and will eventually be lowered with increased solar panels.

“When you build solar in a utility, you create what’s called an avoided cost for the utility and that avoided cost actually keeps stable or even in some times reduces the overall cost of delivering electricity,” Battalia said.

Renova will expand its business to the east valley if the ordinance is passed.

“I understand that they’re having some issues with having to make changes but those changes are going to be less painful if they make them now,” Battalia said.

The procedural vote is on Tuesday, July 10. Thirty days following that, the ordinance is becomes law.

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