California’s legislative session ended last week with lawmakers passing a whopping four bills that expand and strengthen the state’s growing solar energy market. This sunny landslide wouldn’t have happened without thousands of solar supporters like you calling for action from Sacramento. Three cheers for the power of democracy to make good on California’s solar promise!
All four bills now await the Governor’s signature to become law. Read on for more details:
AB 327 (Perea) is a net metering and rate reform bill that clears the way for hundreds of thousands of homes, schools and businesses to go solar and lower their electricity bills. AB 327 ensures that one of California’s most important solar consumer rights, net metering, will stay in place until at least 2016 instead of being suspended as soon as next year. It also gives the California Public Utilities Commission authority to remove caps on participation in the program altogether for the first time in California history, charting the way forward toward long-term solar industry sustainability. All in all it’s a big win for solar; however, the bill does leave a few big unanswered questions that will need to be addressed by the Commission.
SB 43 (Wolk) will enable thousands of Californians, including renters and those with shaded roofs, to go solar for the first time. SB 43 establishes a new 600 megawatt statewide program that will allow the customers of investor-owned utilities to purchase up to 100 percent of their electricity from an off-site renewable energy system. Program participants then receive a credit on their utility bill for the clean energy produced.
AB 217 (Bradford) expands the state’s successful low-income solar programs, which have proven hugely successful in delivering utility bill savings and solar job opportunities to the disadvantaged communities that need them most. The first of their kind in the nation, the programs began in 2009 through the California Solar Initiative, and have been so popular that the incentives were nearly gone. AB 217 extends the two programs through 2021.
AB 792 (Mullin) clarifies that all solar customers are exempt from local utility user’s tax on the clean electricity they generate – regardless of the financing model used. In doing so, it creates tax certainty for all Californians who go solar, including those using a third-party financing model, which accounted for more than 70 percent of the state’s residential solar market in 2012.
Together, these four bills give more Californians more ways to participate in our growing solar economy. Governor Brown has proven himself to be a clean energy champion, and we’re hopeful he’ll sign every one of these bills in the next month. Let’s not leave it up to chance, though— take action to send Gov Brown a letter urging him to make all four bills law as soon as possible.