April 30, 2012

CA: Solar advocate's say Bradford bill will stunt solar growth

Renewable energy advocates, led by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), are opposing amendments to a utility-backed legislation being advanced by Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee Chairman Steven Bradford (D-Ingelwood) they say will undermine the growth of clean energy in the state, including business, agricultural, and commercial users.

In a letter to the committee today, SEIA said Bradford’s legislation (AB 2514) is “entirely inconsistent” with the original legislation sponsored by former Assemblymember Fred Keeley that set up the policy called “net metering.” Under net metering, ratepayers received credit for the excess solar electricity they generate and put on the grid, much like rollover minutes. The Bradford bill would stop the Public Utilities Commission from moving forward with a tentative proposal announced last week to redefine the way net metering progress is calculated.

There is a cap on the amount of net metering that must be made available to customers – beyond that cap, there’s no guarantee that utilities continue to allow new solar customers to net meter. California’s law sets the cap at “5 percent of aggregate customer peak demand,” but does not specify how utilities should calculate that number. Consequently, utilities are using a more restrictive approach that essentially halves the amount of solar that can be net metered.

The CPUC’s proposed decision clarifies that utilities should use a new cap calculation process that results in more Californians having access to the energy bill saving benefits of net metering.

“When we crafted California’s original net metering law, the goal was to maximize the amount of clean distributed energy on the grid,” says Keeley. “By proposing this methodology, the CPUC is complying with the original legislative intent and helping California lead the way toward a clean energy economy.” Bradford’s bill was heard today in the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee.


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