Around the States

The California State Assembly on Thursday passed AB 510, a bill to raise the cap on a key solar policy called “net metering.” Net metering is a simple billing arrangement that allows solar customers to get fair retail credit for the excess electricity their systems generate during daytime hours. Having passed the Senate last week, the bill now only needs the Governor’s signature to become law.

Existing law requires California’s major electric utilities to make net metering available to customers on a first-come-first-served basis until the total program capacity exceeds 2.5% of the utility’s peak demand. AB 510 doubles the net metering program capacity to 5%, ensuring that Californians continue to have access to this solar program for the near term.

Bill author Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) said, “California leads the nation in solar energy, accounting for more than 65% of the all the solar installed in the U.S. Net metering has been absolutely fundamental to that success."

CaliforniaFIRST To Receive Fed Funds

California is giving another big boost to small-scale solar. The California Energy Commission announced that $16.5 million in federal funds will go to the CaliforniaFIRST program–a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program that covers a 14-county financing district.

The program is set to begin this summer with financing of up to $35,000 for homeowners and $75,000 for businesses, with interest rates between 7 and 8%. The financing term is 20 years, and as a PACE program, the debt stays with the home or business if the property sells.

San Francisco created $150 million in bonding capacity for a similar program earlier this month.

Delaware Greening Government Operations

Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed an executive order requiring the state government to purchase increasing quantities of renewable power.

The governor said the order will reduce the state’s carbon footprint while driving local economic development.

The executive order also includes energy conservation and efficiency measures, green building practices and recycling.

Wyoming Legislation Would Regulate Wind Industry

Bills proposed in the Wyoming state legislature would impose a tax of $1/MWh of wind energy produced in the state, according to a North American Wind Power report. 

Governor Dave Freudenthal says he supports the measure, which is meant to diversify the states tax base. The bill would not go into effect until 2012 and wind turbines would be exempt in there first three years of operation.

"We want economic development that helps pay its own expenses; we want economic development that helps us build the state," Freudenthal said. "And, all this is saying is that this principle applies to the wind energy industry."

The bills also would suspend the use of eminent domain be wind companies for one year and place wind projects under the oversight of the state’s industrial siting counci

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