California’s Solar Industry Sets 2014 Policy Priorities
Net Metering, Growing Solar Water Heating Market and Reducing Permitting Costs Top Agenda
Sacramento –CALSEIA (California Solar Energy Industries Association) has set policy priorities for 2014. The top three issues affecting California’s solar industry in the year ahead will be net metering and implementation of AB 327, continued implementation of California’s solar water heating incentives, and reducing or eliminating permitting and interconnection costs associated with going solar.
“We are proud of the fact that California is one of the strongest and fastest growing solar markets in the world,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of CALSEIA. “Yet, the health and strength of our market, which has grown to surpass a nuclear power plant in size, depends entirely on continued good public policy decisions.”
Topping CALSEIA’S 2014 list was implementation of AB 327 (Perea), the significant rate reform law that includes major changes to California’s Net Energy Metering program. Net metering is the policy that allows a solar system owner to spin their meter backwards during the day to generate a bill credit, valued at retail electricity rates, for use when the sun is not shining. It is a critical component of the economics of solar power.
AB 327 mandates that all customers can continue to sign up for Net Energy Metering as it is currently structured for a few years, or July 2017 at the latest. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is directed to create a new program that is unlimited in size and scope, and that continues to grow rooftop solar power throughout the state including in disadvantaged communities. The signing statement issued by Governor Brown makes it clear that all existing Net Metering customers will be allowed to benefit from the current Net Energy Metering program for the life of their solar systems.
“With AB 327, California is once again leading the charge for the rest of the country when it comes to investing in solar power,” said Del Chiaro. “The devil will be in the details and we look forward to working with the CPUC and the governor’s office on creating policies that keep solar power California’s bright spot.”
In the year ahead, CALSEIA will also focus on implementation of AB 1470 (2007) that created the nation’s largest rebate program for solar water heating systems. Recent decisions opened this program to commercial swimming pools. CALSEIA will be working with regulators and administrators of the rebate program to continue to drive consumer interest in the residential sector as well.
“Solar water heating technologies are the work horses of the solar industry,” commented Del Chiaro. “A tremendous amount of energy is wasted, not to mention carbon pollution is unnecessarily emitted, because California does a poor job of capturing the heat of our year-round sun to do something as simple as heat the water for our homes and businesses.”
Last but not least, CALSEIA will focus on reducing or eliminating costs and bureaucracy associated with permitting and interconnection. These so-called “soft costs are becoming increasingly problematic especially as manufacturing and other system component costs decline.
“Our permitting and interconnection processes are stuck in the 1980s,” said Del Chiaro. “California needs to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy, create a statewide approach that abolishes the balkanized system we have today, and make use of computer technology to create efficiencies that will result in significant cost savings for consumers.”
CALSEIA identified several other issues of importance to the industry including general rate cases, financing, collection of data on rooftop solar systems, expanded use of advanced storage technologies and inverters, and replacement power for San Onofre Nuclear Power plant, to name a few. For more information about CALSEIA visit www.calseia.org.
CALSEIA, the California Solar Energy Industries Association, is the nation’s oldest and largest solar industry association representing manufacturers, installers, and distributors of solar panels and related components and technologies throughout the state.