Many folks rightly regard California as leading the charge toward more home rooftop solar installations. However, unbeknownst to most people, a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) “judge” could soon throw out the key part of the state’s solar energy policy that makes installing solar panels on California homes attractive. Few people are aware that the current regulatory allowance for home owners to sell their electricity back to the grid at retail rates will expire for new installations when solar energy has reached 5% of installed CA grid capacity. At that point, probably sometime next year, new rates can come into effect that depend on the caprice of one CPUC judge’s proposal of what should happen. The decision on what the new rates will be has gone through a formal public input process that remained under the radar for many groups that want more solar rooftops. However, the process has not been obscured from investor owned utility companies (IOUs) , who are pushing for deep cuts in the credits they are obligated to grant to home owners who sell electricity to the grid.
In light of the state’s, and Governor Jerry Brown’s, earnest attempts to move down the road toward more renewables to help stem climate change, the prospect of a big disincentive for installing rooftop solar power seems crazy. Combine this prospect with the schedule expiration of a 30% solar investment tax credit after 2016 and we have the makings of killing solar power in its cradle in California. Gee, I wonder if the IOUs are nervously watching to see if they can pull it off?
Californians need to put their name on petitions that urge the CPUC to reject changes to Net Metering tariffs for new solar homes. Here is a link to a petition page on this issue.
Beyond this, the grass roots need to lobby heavily for an extension to the federal tax credit for rooftop solar installations. To sign a petition on this issue visit this website.
Just when solar is gaining meaningful momentum we can’t let it stall in its tracks.