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Two Hundred Local Solar Vendors Tell Sacramento: We Need Good Solar Policy

Rooftop solar owners need strong rules governing “behind the meter” solar generation – collectively known as ‘Net Energy Metering’ (NEM), to protect their investment and support their choice to be energy independent. To that end, we at The Climate Center  follow legislative trends in Sacramento, rule-making at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and permitting issues in our communities.

I was privileged to join more than a dozen Sonoma County solar energy vendors on a day-long “Solar Workers Lobby Day in Sacramento” on Tuesday, August 18th.  More than 200 yellow-shirted solar workers flooded the halls and offices of the State Capitol, urging legislators to enact legislation that strongly supports certainty in the solar marketplace for local, distributed residential and commercial solar generators.

Residential and commercial solar systems are faced with multiple threats at this time:

  • Tier-flattening – Recent rule changes at the CPUC that reduce the rate tiers from four to two, effectively lowering the incentives for installing rooftop solar.
  • Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)  – The 30% ITC is set to expire at the end of 2016.  With the loss of this federal incentive program, the residential rooftop solar market will need time to adjust.
  • NEM rule changes – California’s investor-owned utilities such as PG&E have proposed a  plethora of proposed rule changes that would, if enacted by the CPUC, seriously damage the rooftop solar industry in California.
  • Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – The RPS currently focuses on larger industrial scale systems. Solar policy should not arbitrarily favor utility scale solar over smaller rooftop solar deployments.

These threats combine to spell ACTION for the solar community. We were there, and will continue to be there.

Left to right front row: Ann Hutchinson (Admin and Outreach, Solar Works), Laura Goldman (Solar Works VP), 10th District Assemblymember Marc Levine, Peter Renfro (GM – West Coast Solar, Rohnert Park). Left to right back row: Jeff Mathias (Co-owner, Synergy Solar & Electrical Systems, Inc., Sebastopol) , John Parry (Founder/CEO Solar Works and CalSEIA North Bay Chapter Chair)