California Public Utilities Commission Adopts New Rooftop Solar Program

State Preserves Consumer Choice in Solar and Rejects Utility Attempts to Kill Net Metering

 

San Francisco—The California Public Utilities Commission officially voted today to extend net metering for solar customers indefinitely. In its 3-2 vote, the Commission firmly rejected proposals from the utilities to replace net metering with complicated schemes that would have put solar out of reach for most consumers. This decision puts California in stark contrast to neighboring states, such as Nevada, which recently went in the opposite direction, shutting down the rooftop solar industry there.

“We all know that California is a world leader when it comes to being ‘green’,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA). “But today’s vote is more than that. It is about California continuing to champion innovation and a different way of doing things, in this case, building a smarter energy grid and allowing individual consumers to generate their own clean electricity.”

Under the proposed decision, the utility meter will continue spinning backward at full retail rates for solar customers when they are generating more electricity than they are using, but a new fee will partially offset the value of those credits. Solar customers will be required to pay increased charges for upkeep of the grid as well as public purpose programs like energy efficiency rebates and low-income bill assistance.  

“The Commission agreed that tying solar credits to retail rates is important because it is simple and proven effective,” said CALSEIA Policy Director Brad Heavner. “In the debate over net metering that is flaring up in states across the country, California has said yes to continuing net metering and that’s very significant.”

The new rules also create an application fee of up to $150 and requires residential solar customers to be on “time-of-use rates” that vary depending on the time of day. Commercial and agricultural customers are already on mandatory time-of-use rates.

“The utilities are upset because they weren’t successful at killing rooftop solar like some of their counterparts in other states have done, but the Commission determined that net metering should change only gradually,” added Del Chiaro. “This decision takes significant steps to change net metering over time, but we are confident it will maintain the opportunity to go solar for most types of customers.

Congress Passes Multi-Year Extension of Solar Tax Credit

Combined with net metering, federal solar incentive helps consumers, economy, environment

 

WASHINGTON — This morning, the U.S. Congress passed a multi-year extension of the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) as part of the omnibus appropriations bill. The policy received broad bipartisan support by California’s congressional delegation and was backed by consumers from farmers in the Central Valley to high tech in Silicon Valley. The Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce officially supported the tax credit’s extension this week.    

The 30% federal tax credit for homeowners and businesses was scheduled to expire at the end of 2016.  The provision in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, passed by Congress this morning, would extend the credit through 2021 with a gradual ramp down starting in 2019.  The extension also includes commenced construction language that would add two additional years to complete large-scale projects.  President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law. 

“The federal solar tax credit is a critical policy support making it easier for consumers across the state to go solar,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA), which gives voice to the more than 2,000 solar companies doing business in California.  “We applaud the bipartisan leadership of our California Congressional delegation in supporting passage of this multi-year extension of the ITC.” 

Long-term policies like the 30% federal solar investment tax credit and the state-based policy of net energy metering have been instrumental in creating the rapidly growing California solar industry which currently employs 54,000 people statewide and brought nearly $12 billion in investments to California in 2014.  These policies have also brought about significant cost reductions within the solar industry—dropping over 60% in the past seven years—enabling the growth of local solar businesses and reducing energy costs for homeowners, businesses, schools and farmers across the state. 

“This has been a big week for solar,” said Del Chiaro. “Assuming Governor Brown’s CPUC adopts a strong net metering decision in January in the face of fierce opposition from the state’s big utilities, solar energy has a bright future.”  

The federal investment tax credit (ITC) is a 30 percent credit for solar systems installed on residential and commercial properties.  With the Senate expected to follow the House in passing the bill to extend the expiration date, on December 31, 2016, the ITC will no longer decline to 10 percent for commercial installations and will not completely expire for residential projects.  The ITC has helped the solar market grow significantly since it was passed in 2006.

Net energy metering is a program that compensates solar consumers for any excess electricity they export to the grid. The program has helped fuel the explosive growth of solar across the state.  The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) will finalize its decision on the future of net energy metering in late January. Earlier this week, the CPUC proposed a decision that rejected utility proposals that advocates say would have gutted the state’s rooftop solar market.

The ITC deal in the omnibus appropriations bill will provide extensions for both section 48 (commercial) and 25D (residential). It keeps both credits at the current 30% level until the end of 2019 followed by a two-year phase out:

2015 – 30% (existing law)

2016 – 30% (existing law)

2017 – 30%

2018 – 30%

2019 – 30%

2020 – 26%

2021 – 22%

The 10% credit for Section 48 (commercial) projects remains in place after 2021, per existing tax law.

In addition to extending the expiration date of the ITC, Congress added a provision to the tax code that provides some additional flexibility and certainty for new solar projects to be able to claim the critical 30% federal tax credit.  This provision, so-called “commence construction” language, provides an effective extension of the ITC, especially for larger solar projects that require significant lead time to finance, permit, construct, and connect to the electrical grid.  Solar projects are now eligible to claim the federal tax credit if they commence construction before the expiration date, rather than the previously rigid requirement that projects be fully completed and in-service by the deadline. There is precedent for this provision in the existing tax code, and now solar will receive the same tax treatment as wind and other renewable energy technologies by allowing for projects under construction to receive the tax credit.

“We simply can’t pop any corks until the future of net energy metering is finalized,” concluded Del Chiaro. “However, I think this week marks a turning point for solar energy. As the ink dries on the Paris Climate Agreement, I believe the age of the sun has finally dawned.”

CALSEIA Welcomes Two New Board Members

Inverter Manufacturer Yaskawa-Solectria Solar and Central Valley- Commercial Installer CalCom Solar Added to Board of Directors

Sacramento, CA – December 17, 2015 – The California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA), the oldest and largest California solar industry organization, welcomes two new board members. Allison Duffy, Strategic Account Manager for Yaskawa-Solectria Solar and Nic Stover, CEO of CalCom Solar were officially seated onto the CALSEIA board of directors at the association’s fourth quarter board meeting in San Diego.

“We are very pleased to welcome our two newest board members, Allison Duffy of Yaskawa-Solectria Solar and Nic Stover of CalCom Solar,” said CALSEIA Executive Director Bernadette Del Chiaro. “Both Allison and Nic are industry leaders and will contribute greatly to making California’s solar industry stronger through the collaborative work of CALSEIA.”

Ms. Duffy and Mr. Stover were both elected by the CALSEIA membership in October. They join thirteen other members of the CALSEIA Board of Directors:

Elected Officers

·      Rick Reed, President, SunEarth Inc., President of the Board

·      Jeanine Cotter, President, Luminalt, Vice President of the Board

·      Ed Murray, President, Aztec Solar, Treasurer of the Board

·      Aaron Thurlow, President, Sol Future Consulting, Secretary of the Board

Directors:

·      Benjamin Airth, Senior Manager, Renewables, Center for Sustainable Energy

·      Bill Stewart, President, Solarcraft

·      Cecilia Aguillon, Director of Market Development, Kyocera

·      Gary Gerber, President & CEO, Sun Light & Power

·      Hilary Pearson, Director, Government Affairs, Sungevity

·      Jeff Spies, Senior Director Policy, Quick Mount PV

·      Les Nelson, Vice President, Solar Heating & Cooling Programs, IAPMO

·      Pat Redgate, President, AMECO Solar

·      Sanjay Ranchod, Vice President, Policy & Electricity Markets and Regulatory Counsel, SolarCity

 “Solar is one of the bright spots in California’s economy, and there’s no question that the strong leadership of CALSEIA’s Board of Directors will be critical to continued growth,” Del Chiaro said.

Del Chiaro thanked the outgoing directors – Jason Hanson of Sierra Pacific Home & Comfort and Greg Gahagan of UMA Solar – for their leadership and service to the organization and solar industry in California.

Bakersfield Chamber Supports Solar

Unanimous Approval for Extension of Federal Solar Tax Credit

BAKERSFIELD — Today the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce unanimously approved support for extending the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar energy.  Their support is timely as Congressional leaders work to pass a bipartisan deal that includes a multi-year extension of the ITC.

“The unanimous support for the solar investment tax credit of the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce reflects the growing importance for solar throughout the state of California,” said Kelly Knutsen, policy advisor for the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA). “We applaud the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce’s leadership on this issue and urge California’s congressional delegation to vote for extending the solar tax credit as part of the omnibus appropriations bill being considered this week.” 

The House of Representatives filed an omnibus appropriations bill Wednesday morning that included a five-year extension of the federal solar investment tax credit.  The House of Representatives and Senate are expected to each vote on the omnibus bill later this week.

The 30% federal tax credit is scheduled to expire at the end of 2016, but if Congress votes to approve the deal, it would be extended through 2021.  The extension includes a phase-out and a provision that projects that have commenced construction by the end of 2021 would have two additional years to complete the project.  

In addition to the Bakersfield Chamber’s decision today, in October, the City of Bakersfield became first in the nation to call for congressional support of the solar tax credit, highlighting the growing influence of renewable energy in the biggest oil and gas-producing region in the state.

There are now over 11,000 households and businesses with solar in Bakersfield, making Bakersfield one of the top cities in the state for solar. In fact, according to the California Solar Statistics database, Bakersfield has twice as many solar installations as San Francisco. The city of 363,000 also has comparable amounts of solar installations to the much larger cities of San Diego and San Jose.

Long-term policies like the 30% federal solar investment tax credit and California state policy of net energy metering have been instrumental in creating the rapidly growing California solar industry, which currently employs 54,000 Californians statewide.  These policies have also brought about significant cost reductions within the solar industry—dropping over 50% in past 5 years—enabling the growth of local solar businesses and reducing energy costs for homeowners, businesses and farmers across the state.

Brown Administration’s PUC Proposes to Reject Anti-Solar Proposals from Utilities

Net Metering Compromise Includes Gradual Changes

San Francisco—The California Public Utilities Commission today issued a proposed decision in the proceeding to renew the net metering tariff for solar customers. The proposed decision rejects the utility proposals to slash the value of credits for power they receive from solar customers and to impose hefty new fees for solar customers.

“Gov. Brown’s PUC is standing up for clean power and for customers by proposing to reject the utilities’ attempts to make solar out of reach for customers,” said CALSEIA Executive Director Bernadette Del Chiaro.

The proposed decision would maintain net metering with credits valued at a customer’s full retail rate, but would make changes that solar companies have opposed. CALSEIA will work to improve these provisions in the final version of the decision:

  • It would create a new fee for solar customers to collect utility program charges (“non-bypassable charges”) on a larger portion of the bill. CALSEIA proposed starting this fee in 2019 rather than at the beginning of the new tariff.
  • It would mandate that solar customers on the new tariff use rate plans with rates that vary by the time of day beginning in 2018. Mandatory time-of-use rates would make it difficult for some customers to predict their savings, so it is important that the final decision add flexibility for customers.

Utilities have argued throughout this proceeding that maintaining net metering would result in a great expense to non-solar customers, but the Commission finds that such claims have not been proven. Combined with the restructuring of residential rates that is already being phased in, the changes in the proposed decision may result in little to no shifting of utility revenue sources. This question will be re-evaluated in 2019.

“The Commission is rejecting the utilities’ false numbers and clearing the pathway for solar to continue to grow,” said CALSEIA Policy Director Brad Heavner.

The proposed decision establishes a process to revisit the net metering tariff again in 2019, but guarantees that customers who install solar before those changes take effect will not be subject to the further changes. 

The proposed decision also proposes an alternative tariff for disadvantaged communities that will create further opportunities for low-income customers to join in the clean energy revolution. Details of the alternative tariff need to be resolved, but it may lead to a workable community solar program for census tracts that have historically been impacted by dirty power plants.

The PD proposes to continue virtual net metering and meter aggregation with full retail credit. It also approves CALSEIA’s proposal to expand market-rate VNEM to allow participation throughout a single apartment complex rather than just on an individual building.

“Although we don’t like everything in the proposed decision, it is a fair compromise that will maintain the opportunity for customers to go solar,” added Heavner. “It is consistent with Gov. Brown’s strong commitment to transforming our energy system into one that is based on clean, local power.”

Net energy metering is a tariff that provides fair compensation to solar consumers for excess electricity they export to the grid. In place since 1995, net energy metering has been a foundational policy enabling growth in customer-adopted solar energy in California and has been similarly important to the growth of rooftop solar in other states throughout the country.

Over the past few years, utilities have incorrectly labeled net energy metering as a subsidy and sought major modifications, with mixed success. Arizona utility SRP made changes to net energy metering last spring that resulted in a 95% drop in customer adoption of rooftop solar within the first month. In contrast, Colorado recently rejected a major utility effort to dismantle net metering and other states continue to increase their caps on the tariff.

California’s investor owned utilities, PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric, proposed major changes to California’s net energy metering program similar to those adopted by the Salt River Project. Details of those proposals can be found here. The proposed decision will undergo a 30-day comment period with a vote on a final decision likely in January.

Once in place, the changes to net metering, which were put in motion by AB 327 (Perea) in 2013, will only affect consumers who go solar after the 5% cap is reached by each utility. Existing customers will continue under the current net metering rules for twenty years from their installation date. It is anticipated that San Diego Gas & Electric will hit its 5% cap this coming spring, PG&E this coming summer, and Southern California Edison sometime in 2017. 

UC Berkeley Study: Utility Proposals Could “Throttle Demand for Rooftop Solar”, Make Decision to Go Solar More Difficult for Consumers

Berkeley - November 4, 2015 – A study by Professor Justin McCrary of the University of California, Berkeley, an economist with Berkeley Law and the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that proposals at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on the future of solar net metering by the state’s monopoly utilities and the CPUC’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA) would severely impede the adoption of rooftop solar in the state.

McCrary’s report, titled “Impacts of Rooftop Solar Adoption from Proposed Changes to California’s Net Metering Policy,” evaluated proposals from Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, as well as the ORA according to principles of the economics of consumer decision-making.

“One of the main characteristics of the current [net metering] program is its simplicity: it is easy to understand that no matter how the energy produced by the solar system is used, it will result in a deduction on a consumer’s total bill,” the report said. “The proposed changes to California’s [net metering] program by the [utilities] and ORA will greatly increase the complexity of the decision that consumers face when considering rooftop solar adoption… In short, consumers will be discouraged from adopting by the sheer complexity of the choice they face.”

According to McCrary, the methodology used by CPUC staff to help evaluate different proposals does not account for consumer behaviors specific to an economic decision like going solar, including:

  • Discount rates and present orientation (consumers may undervalue the long-term benefits of rooftop solar);
  • Risk aversion given uncertainty;
  • Limited attention and bounded rationality (consumers have limited attention and capacities to perform complex calculations and trade-offs).

Given the long-term nature of the rooftop solar investment and the dynamics of consumer demand, McCrary recommends that the CPUC consider how any changes to the net metering tariff will affect the riskiness and complexity of the homeowner’s decision to install solar. In fact, he warns that policy uncertainty can have an outsize impact on such complex consumer decisions, and thus the CPUC must be cautious and measured in its decision. The study says that the CPUC should “move deliberately and incrementally in order to avoid fully and durably throttling consumer adoption of rooftop solar.”

The report compared the California utility proposals to new fees and rate structures for new rooftop solar adopters in Arizona’s second largest electric utility territory, Salt River Project (SRP). The changes adopted by that utility caused rooftop solar applications to collapse in its territory.

Latino Victory Project Files Letter to Public Utilities Commission in Support of Continued Solar Net Metering

Latinos 20% of California Solar Workforce, Benefit from “Clean Energy Jobs Boom”

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Latino Victory Project (LVP) sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today declaring its support for solar net metering.

Latino Victory, co-founded by Eva Longoria and Henry R. Muñoz III, is an ambitious, non-partisan effort to ensure the voices of Latinos are reflected at every level of government. The Latino Victory PAC supports Latino candidates across the country and engages Latino voters and donors to support Latino leaders in order to elevate and advance American values.

The filing is a response to actions by the state’s investor-owned utilities proposing to make California the first major solar state to abandon net metering, a cornerstone policy of every successful solar industry across the country. The utility proposals would put future customers’ ability to go solar at risk. The CPUC will likely determine the fate of net metering in California by December 31, 2015.

The letter noted that 65 percent of Latino voters are either very or extremely concerned about climate change and 74 percent of Latino voters believe it is very or extremely important for California to develop renewable energy sources, including solar.

“The reason for this [strong support] is because our community stands to suffer most from the effects of climate change,” wrote Cristóbal J. Alex, the President of the Latino Victory Project, noting that 39 percent of Latinos live within 30 miles of a power plant. “We also stand to benefit most in the event of a clean energy jobs boom.”

“California Latino communities benefit from rooftop solar and net metering.” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director of CALSEIA, noting that 20 percent of the state’s solar workforce is Latino. “The benefits of clean air and good green jobs simply won’t happen throughout Latino communities without net metering. Rooftop solar is local and that means the benefits are local.”

Net metering is a program that credits solar consumers for the surplus electricity they export to the grid. The program has helped fuel the transformational growth of solar across the state. Before the end of this year, the CPUC will decide on the future of net metering, including options proposed by the three investor owned utilities, PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E, all of which include fees and rates designed to make solar uneconomical. Solar advocates are protesting these changes and are highlighting the conflict of interest inherent in monopoly utilities trying to squash competition to protect profits.

LVP’s letter is among dozens being submitted to the CPUC on their impending net metering decision. In sending a strongly worded letter in support of net metering for solar, LVP joins with other diverse voices calling for protecting rooftop solar, including affordable housing advocates, prominent Central Valley farmers and agricultural organizations, over 75 local elected officials, environmental justice organizations, and businesses across the state.

View the Letter

Hundreds Protest SCE’s Anti-Solar Proposal near California Public Utility Commission’s LA Headquarters

Diverse coalition rallies against anti-solar utility proposals; speakers defend consumer choice and highlight public health benefits of solar

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

LOS ANGELES - More than 300 Southern Californians, armed with signs and chants, rallied on Wednesday to protest Southern California Edison’s (SCE) proposal to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that would cripple rooftop solar power and eliminate consumer choice.

The rally featured live performances by Malik Yusef, a five-time Grammy Award winning poet, and Antonique Smith, a Grammy-nominated recording artist and actress. Speakers included Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz, Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. President of the Hip-Hop Caucus, students from a local elementary school, and Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment California. Attendees also included including school children, ratepayers, business leaders, solar advocates, and the Hip Hop Caucus’ nationwide bus tour.

“It’s not an accident that California is the nationwide leader in solar energy, with more solar power installed on homes, schools, businesses, farms and parking lots than any other state,” said Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “Weakening the primary policy that helped us reduce pollution and spur a new and vibrant clean energy economy would be a huge mistake for California.”

SCE’s proposal would end net energy metering, a critical state policy that makes rooftop solar more accessible to Californians. SCE, like other utilities across the state and nation, is attacking net energy metering because it is trying to slash market competition and limit consumer choice. Net energy metering allows consumers with solar panels to receive full retail credit for the excess electricity they send back to the grid. Net energy metering is the bedrock policy that has allowed California’s rooftop solar industry to grow tremendously, primarily by making the technology accessible for low-to-moderate income households.

Rally speakers highlighted how Californians have benefited from consumer choice, market competition, cleaner air and cleaner water, especially for communities of color, as well as tens of thousands of local jobs. Rally speakers followed by saying that all of this is at risk in California as the CPUC considers the utility proposals.

“Rooftop solar power gives consumers unprecedented choice and control over their energy future,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association, which participated in today’s events. “SCE has no business pressuring state regulators to eliminate competition by gutting pro-solar policies like net metering.”

Last week, a statewide poll of California registered voters’ opinions of rooftop solar power and related policies was released and found that 83% of respondents feel that utilities should not interfere with net energy metering policies according to a poll commissioned by CalSEIA, a non-profit that represents the common interests of the California solar industry, and Brightline Defense, a policy advocacy non-profit that focuses on quality-of-life improvements in low-income communities and communities of color, particularly those historically polluted by dirty power plants. The LA community voiced their opposition to the anti-solar proposals as the rest of the state agrees that the CPUC should not accept the utility proposals.

California’s two other major utilities, PG&E and SDG&E, have submitted similar proposals, which would remove energy choice for customers and threaten California’s progress on solar power. Go to www.saverooftopsolarca.com to sign the petition to protect rooftop solar in California.

New Poll: Overwhelming Support For Rooftop Solar Power And Related Policies Among California Voters

San Francisco – A new statewide poll of California registered voters’ opinions of rooftop solar power and related policies shows that 90% of Californians favor rooftop solar power as a way to generate electricity, and 88% feel that more should be done to encourage rooftop solar power. The vast majority of voters polled (80%) disapprove of utility proposals to reduce compensation to customers who install their own rooftop solar power systems through a program called net energy metering, and 83% believe utility companies have no business trying to eliminate the competition from rooftop solar panel owners. The poll was conducted as the California Public Utilities Commission deliberates whether to continue the state’s successful net energy metering policy.

“Solar power is the most popular energy resource in California, highly favored for its ability to give consumers choice and control over how to power our homes, schools, and businesses,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA), which co-commissioned the poll along with Brightline Defense. “The public is strongly opposed to utilities interfering with consumer access to solar by attacking net metering. They think the state should do more to encourage rooftop solar, not make it more expensive.” 

The poll also showed strong numbers of Californians, 82%, see rooftop solar as an important way to reduce the threat of climate change, and 74% see it as a way to reduce the need to build more polluting power plants typically located in disadvantaged communities.

“It makes no sense for California to build dirty power plants when we can generate our electricity directly from the sun,” said Eddie Ahn, executive director of Brightline Defense, co-commissioner of the poll. “Californians want the state to do more to make solar accessible to more people, particularly with our communities most in need of clean renewable energy.”

Highlights from the poll:

  • Rooftop solar power received high marks (90%), compared with wind (88%), natural gas (71%), geothermal (65%), nuclear (46%) and coal (31%). 
  • 8 in 10 Californians disapprove of utility efforts to reduce compensation for surplus electricity generated by rooftop solar panels by more than 50%. 
  • Californians overwhelmingly (92%) believe consumers should have a choice to install rooftop solar panels, as opposed to relying solely on their utility company. 
  • Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Californians believe utilities should not be allowed to interfere with the transition to renewable energy just to save their own profits. 
  • 7 in 10 Californians believe increasing rooftop solar helps reduce air pollution in poorer neighborhoods where heavy polluting power plants are usually built. 

The poll involved 1,000 respondents and had a 3.1% factor of error. Respondents reflected the diversity found throughout California in terms of geography, income, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and political outlook. 

Net energy metering is a program that compensates solar consumers for any excess electricity they export to the grid. The program has helped fuel the explosive growth of solar across the state. 

To receive a copy of the poll, email Bernadette@calseia.org or eddie@brightlinedefense.org

About Brightline Defense

Brightline is a policy advocacy non-profit that works to empower communities and create sustainable environments. Our focus is on quality-of-life improvements in low-income communities and communities of color, particularly those historically polluted by dirty power plants.

 

About CALSEIA

CALSEIA represents a diverse membership committed to growing the California solar industry. CALSEIA engages with local and state decision makers to ensure California remains a solar energy leader through good public policy and regulations that provide clarity, transparency, and certainty for our growing market. 

California Agriculture Community Files Letter to California Public Utilities Commission in Support of Continued Solar Net Metering

October 8, 2015 -- A group of sixteen farms and agricultural businesses sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today declaring their support for the continuation of solar net metering.

The filing is a response to actions by the state’s investor-owned utilities proposing to make California the first major solar state to abandon net metering, a cornerstone policy of every successful solar market in the country. The utility proposals would put future customers’ ability to go solar at risk. The CPUC is expected to determine the fate of net metering in California by December 31, 2015.

“I am a walnut grower who is impacted by the extremely high rates of mid-day peak pricing to the point that it is not economically feasible for me to use my pumps during the day,” wrote Greg Swett of Swett Orchards. “Through net-metering and larger installations of solar panels, it is possible that these peak prices will be reduced that will benefit me directly by allowing use of these pumps.”

“Net metering works for California farms and agriculture,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director of CALSEIA. “It provides these businesses with the type of choice and flexibility that allows them to control costs while managing their impact on the environment.”

The letter was signed by sixteen different farms, throughout California from Lakeside to Redding. The Fresno County Farm Bureau, Good Nuts, and Swett Orchards also sent letters of support for net energy metering to the CPUC.

The letter reads, “California is a nationwide leader in agriculture, producing much of the nation’s produce, dairy products, and wine. We also lead the nation in rooftop solar and set the standard for forward-thinking energy policy. We encourage the California Public Utilities Commission to continue full net energy metering, including aggregate net energy metering and annual true-ups, for California’s farmers, and for all solar customers throughout the state.”

Net energy metering is a program that compensates solar consumers for any excess electricity they export to the grid. The program has helped fuel the explosive growth of solar across the state. Before the end of this year, the CPUC will decide on the future of net energy metering, including among options proposed by the three investor owned utilities, PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E, all of which include fees and rates designed to make solar uneconomical in order to protect the utility’s monopoly.

About CALSEIA

Since the 1970s, CALSEIA has advanced the common interests of the California solar industry, helping make California's solar market the most robust in the United States. Comprised of California solar contractors, manufacturers, distributors, developers, utilities, engineers, consultants and educational organizations, CALSEIA represents a diverse membership committed to growing the California solar industry. CALSEIA engages with local and state decision makers to ensure California remains a solar energy leader through good public policy and regulations that provide clarity, transparency, and certainty for our growing market.  

 

Fresno County Farm Bureau Files Letter to Public Utilities Commission in Support of Continued Solar Net Metering

FRESNO -- October 6, 2015 -- Fresno County’s largest farm advocacy organization sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) declaring its support for solar net metering. 

Fresno County Farm Bureau’s letter is a response to actions by the state’s investor-owned utilities proposing to make California the first major solar state to abandon net metering, a cornerstone policy of every successful solar industry in across the country. The utility proposals would put future customers’ ability to go solar at risk. The CPUC will determine the fate of net metering in California by December 31, 2015.

“One vital component of solar that FCFB supports is net energy metering,” wrote Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. “The program has helped fuel the explosive growth of solar across the state, particularly on farms and ranches.

Fresno County Farm Bureau represents 3,500 members and the County produces more than 400 commercial crops annually, totaling over $7.03 billion in gross production value in 2014.

“Net metering works for Central Valley farms,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director of CALSEIA. “It provides these farmers with the type of choice and flexibility that allows them to control costs and run a more sustainable business.”

Net energy metering is a program that compensates solar consumers for any excess electricity they export to the grid. The program has helped fuel the explosive growth of solar across the state. Before the end of this year, the CPUC will decide on the future of net energy metering, including among options proposed by the three investor owned utilities, PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E, all of which include fees and rates designed to make solar uneconomical.

About CALSEIA

Since the 1970s, CALSEIA has advanced the common interests of the California solar industry, helping make California's solar market the most robust in the United States. Comprised of California solar contractors, manufacturers, distributors, developers, utilities, engineers, consultants and educational organizations, CALSEIA represents a diverse membership committed to growing the California solar industry. CALSEIA engages with local and state decision makers to ensure California remains a solar energy leader through good public policy and regulations that provide clarity, transparency, and certainty for our growing market.  

About Fresno County Farm Bureau

Fresno County Farm Bureau is the county's largest agricultural advocacy and educational organization, representing 3,500 members on water, labor, air quality, land use, and major agricultural related issues. Fresno County produces more than 400 commercial crops annually, totaling over $7.03 billion in gross production value in 2014.  For Fresno County agricultural information, visit www.fcfb.org.