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09/06/2012 11:57 AM     print story email story  

Three Renewable Energy Bills Pass in California, Community Solar Bill Fails

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California's Community Shared Solar Bill (SB 843) died in an Assembly committee because of pressure from the utilities, says Senator Wolk (D-Davis), who sponsored it. The bill passed the Senate.

The legislation would have enabled community renewable energy systems, which would give all residents access to solar even as renters or if they lived in houses that have to much shade, for example.

Customers would have received credit on their utility bills for their portion of clean power generated by a given solar project, much as if those systems were located on site.

It was expected to create 12,000 local jobs, and $7.5 billion in economic activity by expanding access to the state's renewable energy market, says Vote Solar, which analyzed the plan.

Utility PG&E, for example, lobbied against the bill because it would "burden" customers who didn't opt in to the program, they say in editorial.

The bill is being re-drafted to address concerns and will be introduced again next year.

Three Bills Head to Governor's Desk

Three other renewable energy-related bills are close to being adopted, however. They await Governor Brown's signature.

One bill would expand solar hot water heaters to community pools, another would cap permitting fees for solar systems and a third enables aggregate net metering by farmers, schools and other customers with multiple meters.

Assembly Bill 2249 extends solar hot water heater incentives to commercial pools by amending the Solar Water Heating and Efficiency Act of 2007. It encourages municipalities, schools and nonprofits to use solar hot water heating by extending incentives to commercial pools.  

Senate Bill 1222 caps permitting fees charged by counties and cities for solar installations, a key barrier to deploying more systems.

For residential solar PV, fees can't exceed $500 plus $15 per kilowatt (kW) for systems bigger than 15 kW. For commercial systems, it's capped at $1000 plus $7 per kW between 51-250 kW, and an additional $5 per kW for each kilowatt above 250 kW.

SB 594, also sponsored by Wolk, allows customers that have multiple electricity meters, such as farmers and schools, to participate in the state's net energy metering program.



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