Net metering allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid. Many states have passed net metering laws. In other states, utilities may offer net metering programs voluntarily or as a result of regulatory decisions. Differences between states' legislation and implementation mean that the benefits of net metering can vary widely for solar customers in different areas of the country.
Reducing soft costs through streamlining permitting and interconnection procedures is one of our top priorities for both the solar PV and solar thermal markets. CALSEIA lead the charge for AB 2188 (Muratsuchi) in 2014, establishing the nation's first mandatory streamlined permitting bill. We also participated in the development of the Governor's Solar Permitting Guidebook. In 2015, we will be focused on implementing AB 2188 and exploring ways to create a single statewide permitting portal to further streamline the efforts of 500+ cities and counties statewide.
California recently adopted a new code requirement that went into effect January 1, 2015 wherin all PV systems, i.e. racking and modules together, are required to be given the same class rating (A, B, or C) as the roof upon which they are to be installed. This change in state building code is dependent on an updated UL 1703 testing procedure. To prepare, CALSEIA has launched the state's only online database of UL 1703 compliance, tracking which products have been successfully tested. We are also offering webinars and other educational tools to make sure the transition to UL 1703 is as smooth as possible.
Net Energy Metering
AB 327, passed in 2013, presented both the greatest opportunity and threat to the solar industry. How the CPUC implements AB 327 will determine the fate of Net Energy Metering for future as well as past solar customers. CALSEIA is heavily engaged in the so-called NEM 2.0 proceeding at the CPUC, fighting to protect and expand NEM for years to come. In addition, CALSEIA is in the trenches fighting for solar-friendly rates at the CPUC as well as working with municipal utilities and irrigation districts to extend NEM and meet their SB 1 goals.
CSI is critical to the success of the solar water heating market. How the commercial as well as single-family rebates are structured and/or adjusted to better drive a healthy level of consumer demand are just two of the issues CALSEIA will work on in the coming year. CALSEIA is pressing the CPUC for a "petition to modify" the CSI-Thermal program to better reflect market conditions. Beyond that, CALSEIA is working to look beyond CSI-Thermal to set up a longer-term program to keep this market growing.
The fight of the decade. California’s solar market will experience a wild ride as consumers rush to beat the 2016 expiration of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Without an ITC extension - or some other policy that fills its shoes -- a bust looms on the horizon especially for residential solar. On January 1, 2017, commercial solar incentives, including third party owned systems, drop fro 30% to 10% and residential solar incentives drop from 30% to 0%, unless congress takes action to renew the ITC.