Sacramento Utility District hits solar owners with new fees

April 10, 2019 | 3min read

Update: The proposed new SMUD fees were defeated in April when over 1,000 solar system owners and advocates spoke up at a SMUD hearing. According to the Solar Rights Alliance:

It was a triumph of people power, but underscores how none of us are safe from discriminatory fees that punish us for doing the right thing

Solar Rights Alliance

The Sacramento Utility District (SMUD) is the latest utility that’s decided to charge home solar owners extra fees. SMUD is proposing new fees against home solar owners to charge them for something they are already paying for, maintenance of the grid. The new fees will begin in January. The customer will be charged per month based on how many kilowatts their system is. Those fees start at $8 per kilowatt on January 1, 2020, and rise to $11 per kilowatt in 2025. The Solar Rights Alliance is circulating a petition that you can sign to demand SMUD directors scrap the new fee.

How SMUD’s solar-only fee works

Home solar system owners will pay fixed fees on their utility bill each month called non-bypassable charges. Among those charges are fees used to maintain and improve the grid. SMUD is claiming that home and business solar system owners are placing extra demand on the grid’s infrastructure. The average solar system size in California is 6 kW. The new solar-only charge would charge a homeowner $48 a month for a 6kW solar system. In 2025, that charge would rise to $66 a month. SMUD’s solar only fee will take a big bite out of home solar system owner’s savings. SMUD’s new solar only fee will be a clear disincentive for homeowners going solar.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District Solar-only per kilowatt rate increase

Per kWh$8$8$9$10$10$11

Existing solar system owners will be grandfathered out of the solar-only rate increase

Customers connected to SMUD’s grid before 2018 they are grandfathered out of the solar-only rate for 20 years. Those connected to SMUD’s grid in 2018 are grandfathered for 10 years. The grandfathering rules don’t apply to people who move into homes with existing solar systems. Nor do they apply to people who move from one home with a solar system in place to another.

SMUD proposed utility rate increase

The proposal includes a 4.75% rate increase in 2020 and a 4.50% rate increase in 2021 for residential and non-residential customers. In SMUD’s defense, their rates are among the lowest in California and are on average about 33% lower than those of neighboring PG&E.

Members of the public can ask questions and provide feedback about the Rate Proposal at the following meetings to be held at the Rubicon Room, 6301 S Street, Sacramento. Comments may be submitted by emailing

Public workshops

For people in the Sacramento area, they can attend a SMUD workshop discussing the new rates at the Rubicon Room at the address given above.


Tuesday, April 23 | 10 a.m.

Thursday, May 9 | 6 p.m.

Public hearing

Additionally, a public hearing will be held at the Rubicon Room on Tuesday, June 4 at 6 p.m. The public can address SMUD directly on the proposed rate increase.

Freedom Forever supports the Solar Rights Alliance

Utilities are able to get their way because they pay lobbyists in Sacramento to fight for their interests. Now, thanks to the Solar Rights Alliance, solar owners have a way to have their voice heard. Solar Rights Alliance and Freedom Forever are working together to represent the interests of home solar system owners. We urge you to take action and support the Solar Bill of Rights, which is currently under consideration in the state Senate.

Ready to go solar? Call us at 800-685-1850 or click below to get started.


Sacramento Municipal Utility District (2019) 2019 Proposed rate changes. Web. 10 April