Fighting California’s solar incentives is on the air – CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Years of work state energy regulators have put in place to improve California’s rooftop solar rules are said to have culminated this week in a crisis. Vote at CPUC on Thursday, January 27.

In his recent budget speech, Governor Newsom said California’s plan to overhaul solar incentives “needs to work.” Now the issue has been withdrawn from the agenda.

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The solar metering ratio debate has become a political battle that is hard to escape. Duel ads can be heard on drive time radio.

One ad said: “A major loophole in state policy is forcing Californians who cannot afford rooftop solar to subsidize wealthier homeowners.

“There is a new assault on solar in California. The California Public Utilities Commission is considering a new tax to penalize solar installers,” another said.

At issue is a package of reforms that would cut rooftop solar owners’ credit for the energy they produce and impose a tax of about $60 a month to help pay the bills. grid fixed charges.

The plan will also reduce the time that solar owners can maintain their current net metering plan from 20 years to 15.

“Taken together, this would make it impossible for most people to buy solar and it would be the highest solar tax in the US. Only Alabama charges a higher solar tax. So it’s just the completely wrong direction for California,” said Solar Power Coalition CEO Dave Rosenfeld.

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He and other solar advocates say the incentives have created one of the most successful green energy programs in the country, and cutting them will halt that progress. But those pushing for the changes say the current system is shifting more and more costs to non-solar users.

“And the ones left behind are low-income people and renters. And so that’s who’s going to have to pay for the grid,” said Professor Severin Borenstein, director of the Energy Institute of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

As electricity prices rise, Borenstein says, the deal will become sweeter for those who can avoid it. If the current rules continue, eventually there won’t be enough payers to support the cost of the grid.

“It’s about time we really fixed the problem,” he said. “And I think letting it just fester would lead to a real crisis in the power system in California.”

He said the delay – which came after Governor Newsom’s speech – showed that major revisions to the plan were expected before it was adopted by the PUC. That has left everyone on both sides of the debate wondering what might be going on.

Solar advocates like Rosenfeld are encouraged by the pause.

“The direction we have to go is to continue to develop rooftop solar, not to make it less affordable for people,” said Rosenfeld.

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Meanwhile, a pool that has registered an intent to qualify for a voting initiative will lock in the current system. Professor Borenstein says that could be a disaster because it would eliminate the ability to make necessary adjustments to the system in the future. Fighting California’s solar incentives is on the air – CBS San Francisco

Dustin Huang

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