California energy bill will protect net-metering, boost renewable energy in the state

Solar Panels Roof Installation
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California's Senate and State Assembly have passed an important energy bill called AB327 that is expected to be signed by governor Jerry Brown. The bill touches many things related to energy in the state, including the very important net-metering policy that solar companies depend on because without it their customers - residential and commercial - wouldn't be able to sell their excess power back to the grid.

Here's a little roundup of coverage on this:

The solar industry and California's utility companies have been locked in an increasingly tough fight over net metering. Solar companies view net metering as essential to their success, a key tool for convincing homeowners that they can save money by installing panels.

But the current net metering system was set to expire next year, and the utilities commission had not yet decided how to replace it. (source)

That's where AB327 comes in:

The new law directs the California Public Utilities Commission to design a new net metering program that would take effect in 2017 and also gives the regulator the authority to require utilities to source more than 33 percent of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar. (source)

Not surprisingly, reactions from the solar industry are rather postive. Rhone Resch, the President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released this statement:

“This is a banner day in California. Once again, state lawmakers have set the bar high when it comes to the adoption of renewable energy. AB 327 provides a clear pathway for the continued growth of solar generation in California, which ranks #1 in the nation in total installed solar capacity with 3,761 megawatts (MW) – three times more than any other state. What’s more, solar now provides nearly 44,000 good-paying jobs across the state, while saving money for hundreds of thousands of Californians on their utility bills.

“Moving forward, we plan to work closely with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to ensure that future rules preserve consumer choice, ensuring that California homeowners, businesses and schools will continue to benefit from clean, reliable solar energy. Today, solar is more affordable than ever. Average PV system prices have declined by 40 percent since the beginning of 2011 – and by more than 50 percent since the beginning of 2010. As an industry, we’re also doing our part to help boost the economy and to fight climate change. SEIA applauds California legislators for ‘leading by example’ and for their strong, ongoing commitment to solar energy. We urge Governor Brown to sign this important legislation.”

installing solar panels roof photo

The Alliance for Solace Choice was also in favor of the bill:

“AB 327 recognizes that net metering is smart policy and should continue in California without restrictions,” said Randy Bishop, a TASC member and CEO and co-Founder of Verengo. “With this bill, our state’s leaders are helping ensure all Californians have the choice of using clean solar energy. “

AB 327 will provide much-needed stability for the rooftop solar industry by preserving net metering and removing the ceiling on California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). To help grow solar energy in California, AB 327 will:

  • Remove the current suspension on net metering that would go into effect at the end of this year.
  • Eliminate uncertainly over how the current net metering cap is calculated.
  • Provide a framework for removing the net metering cap altogether.
  • Provide certainty that net metering customers’ investment expectations are respected.
  • Remove the 33% ceiling on the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. This means the 33% becomes a floor, not a ceiling.
Via Reuters, SFGateSee also: The U.S. installed 832 MW of solar PV in Q2 2013

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