About Going Solar with DCE

Whether you are interested in getting solar or already have it on your home or business, you can participate in Desert Community Energy’s solar programs, which offer the same rates for your excess energy production as Southern California Edison (SCE).

How DCE’s solar programs work

If you are already under Net Energy Metering (NEM) with SCE because you have a home or business with a solar installation operating or applied for before April 15, 2023, you don’t have to do anything. As a Desert Community Energy (DCE) customer, you will be automatically enrolled in one of our parallel solar programs. The NEM 1.0, NEM 2.0, and Solar Billing Plan are explained below.

There is no impact to customers’ NEM 1.0 and 2.0 grandfathering status by enrolling in DCE service. Your system’s energy production will be monitored monthly. If you have produced excess energy at the end of your relevant period with DCE (May for most NEM customers), you will receive either a true-up payment or a credit on your bill that can be applied to charges in future months. If you use more energy than your system produces, you will be charged for the energy you draw from the grid. You can choose from either Desert Community Energy’s Carbon Free (more green) or Desert Saver (lower cost) plans.

The term for NEM 1.0 or NEM 2.0 stays with the solar system. For example, if you purchase a home in 2023 with an existing solar system with a Permission to Operate (PTO) date of July 1, 2017, that system will remain under NEM 2.0 until July 1, 2037.

SCE's new Solar Billing Plan, also known as the Net Billing Tariff (NBT)

SCE adopted its new Solar Billing Plan (or NBT) — also known as NEM 3.0 — for all new solar customers on April 15, 2023. Under this new plan, the value of export rates, or the price of excess electricity produced by residential and commercial solar systems, changes. The Solar Billing Plan is SCE’s current solar program for all new installations as well as installations that have been on SCE’s NEM 1.0 or NEM 2.0 programs for 20 years or more.

Customers enrolled in SCE’s Solar Billing Plan will be moved onto one of SCE’s three Time-Of-Use (TOU) Rate Plans, based on which plan suits the customer’s energy needs best. With SCE’s Solar Billing Plan, the Time-Of-Use (TOU) rate plans offer lower prices while the sun is shining, and solar power is contributing to the grid. As is the case for NEM customers, customers enrolled in SCE’s Solar Billing Plan will automatically be enrolled in DCE’s parallel Solar Option Program. The TOU rate plan selected for SCE will also apply to DCE generation charges.

If you purchase a home or business with a solar system already enrolled in the Solar Billing Plan, your system will remain on the Solar Billing Plan.

To learn more about how SCE’s Solar Billing Plan works, visit SCE’s website here.

Despite SCE’s Solar Billing Plan taking effect in April 2023, SCE did not update its billing system until December 15, 2023, meaning all new Solar Billing Plan customers were temporarily billed under the previous NEM program — also known as NEM 2.0 — until SCE updated its billing system. This also applies to DCE generation charges within DCE’s Solar Option Program, the equivalent to SCE’s Solar Billing Plan.

Annual True-up

DCE settles balances (charges and credits) for generation monthly and during May performs the annual true-up process of all its solar customer accounts. SCE will continue to calculate charges for delivery, transmission, and other services annually for those customers with an annual billing option.

Solar customers with DCE will receive two annual true-up statements, or settlement bills, from SCE. All your bills are sent by SCE. One bill will be for the delivery of energy to your home based on the date your solar panels were connected to the grid. For example: if you connected your panels to the grid in September, you should be billed for delivery of energy to your home in September of each following year.

All DCE solar customers will receive their annual true-up in May of every year for their generation charges. Each May on your meter read date, the kilowatt usage is evaluated and may reveal that you produced more energy than you used or used more energy than you produced. You will also receive another bill from SCE for the actual power you used (referred to as generation) above and beyond what your solar panels produced. This is the DCE portion of the bill.

DCE’s solar programs are the same as SCE’s NEM and Solar Billing Plan programs. DCE is paying you the exact same amount that SCE is paying for the power produced by your solar panels. If you produced more energy than you used:

  • If the energy produced by your solar panels exceeds what you used, you will see a credit on your bill. You will be compensated at Desert Community Energy’s Net Surplus Compensation Rate which matches SCE’s Net Surplus Compensation Rate.
  • The credit on your bill is determined by the current Net Surplus Compensation (NSC) rate that SCE sets, which changes each month. The current NSC rate can be found here.
  • Any credits of less than $100 are rolled over to your next bill and any credits of $100 or more are cashed out. DCE solar credits cannot be applied to any SCE charges.

If you used more energy than your system generated:

If your energy use exceeded what your solar panels produced, you will be charged for the net amount you used at the current DCE rate you are enrolled in.

Following SCE’s implementation of billing for the Solar Billing Plan, customers enrolled in the Solar Billing Plan and DCE’s parallel Solar Option Program will be charged for energy you import from the electric grid at the current DCE rate you are enrolled in and will receive bill credits at a set price per unit (kilowatt-hour) of electricity exported, based on the electricity’s value to the electric grid in each hour of the day. The price will usually be lower than what you pay for a kilowatt-hour of electricity.

DCE assures its customers they are not charged twice. Simply put, there is a separation of the transmission and delivery charges by SCE from the generation charges by DCE.

The Advantage of DCE’s solar programs versus SCE

If you need energy beyond what your system produces, you can purchase energy from DCE at a lower rate than SCE's base rate plan with our Desert Saver plan. You also have the choice to go green and make a bigger impact on the environment by choosing DCE’s Carbon Free plan. The City of Palm Springs has prioritized reducing greenhouse (GHG) emissions and chosen to automatically enroll every residential and commercial customer (including solar) into Desert Community Energy’s Carbon Free plan. To opt-down to Desert Saver, click here or call our customer service center toll-free at (855) 357-9240.

DCE is also locally controlled. The money generated by DCE will go back into the community in the form of local incentives, instead of paying SCE shareholders.

If you are experiencing high energy bills you should first take these steps:

  • Check your monthly or annual kWh usage to see if you used more energy than the previous month or year.
  • Check to ensure your solar panels are working properly. If they are not, check to ensure they are clean and free of debris, not shaded by your trees, or contact your solar installer to have them serviced.
  • You may also lower your bill by opting down to DCE’s Desert Saver rate for any power you utilize from the grid. DCE’s Desert Saver plan is less expensive than SCE’s base rate. To opt-down, visit org/opt-down.
  • If you still cannot figure out why your energy bills are abnormal, you can contact DCE at [email protected]or call (855) 357-9240.

Information for Customers Interested in Going Solar

If you are thinking about going solar, here are some basic tips to get you started:

Steps for Going Solar

Step 1: Choose a Contractor

Find a qualified, licensed solar contractor to provide a free evaluation and comprehensive quote. Compare multiple bids to find the contractor that’s right for you.

Step 2: Financing Options

Want solar but don’t think you can afford it? There are organizations out there who will assist low-income families in putting solar on their property. One such organization is Grid Alternatives. Visit their website to find out if you qualify.

You may also finance solar through a program called Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, where solar, energy efficiency, and water efficiency projects can be financed with no money down through your property taxes for up to 30 years in some cases, keeping your monthly payment low. Often times, the money saved on the reduced electric bill will offset the monthly cost of the improvement. Search the internet for PACE providers servicing the Coachella Valley or click here to view a list of organizations licensed as program administrators under the California Financing Law.

Step 3: Installation

Installation typically takes one to four days, depending on the size of your system. It may take an additional one to three months before your solar panels are connected to the grid and produce energy for your home.

Step 4: Sign up for the Solar Billing Plan

DCE customers sign up for SCE’s Solar Billing Plan through SCE and will be automatically served by DCE’s parallel Solar Option Program.

Have Additional Questions about Solar?

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page as well as contact your solar installer for help understanding how NEM and the Solar Billing Plan work.

For more information:

California Solar Consumer Protection Guide

Got questions about solar or energy efficiency?

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