Don’t Wait to Install Solar – Costs Could Be Soaring Soon

by Geoffrey D. Smith  |  September 30, 2015

The time is NOW to install solar on your rooftop.  An unprecedented set of challenges to the
residential solar industry is threatening our ability to generate energy from
the sun in the future:

1)  The Federal
Investment Tax Credit (ITC) expiration
– The ITC is scheduled to expire at
the end of 2016 – The ITC offers a full 30% credit on your federal income tax
for costs associated with installing solar on your roof. Advocates are working
actively to extend the program.

2)  Net Energy
Metering (NEM 2.0) proposed changes
– A series of changes to this important
program, which have been proposed by the Investor-Owned Utilities (IOU), would
significantly lower incentives for homeowners to produce solar energy by:

a. Lowering the cost paid to the homeowner by the utility
for energy produced

b. Shifting the Time of Use ‘peak period’ to later in the
day, thereby lowering the value of solar energy produced when the sun is
shining most brightly

c. Charging for transmission & distribution of the
solar energy that is generated (currently no charge)

What you can do:

1)  You can raise your voice to Governor Brown and the
California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) now by signing this petition, provided by CREDO
Action, one of the many organizations that The Climate Center is
collaborating with to represent the interests of solar owners. It only takes a
minute. Our goal is 25,000 signatures.

2)  Contact us at the Clean Energy Advocate (CEA) program today
to find out how you can easily and affordably install solar on your rooftop. Call
707.654.4350, or write


Geoffrey Smith is the
Solar Energy Program Coordinator for The Climate Center. You can reach him at or 707.654.4350.

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

by Geoffrey D. Smith  |  August 31, 2015

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)

Geoffrey Smith is the Solar Sonoma County Program Coordinator for The Climate Center.