Yesterday, Governor Brown signed into law AB 327, a comprehensive rate reform bill authored by Assembly member Perea. AB 327 creates more certainty for Californians who want to go solar, ensuring rooftop solar is here to stay in California! We applaud Governor Brown for his vision and leadership in helping to make good on our state’s solar promise.
The Governor issued a signing statement for AB 327 directing the CPUC to ensure that customers who go solar under the current 5% program cap will get to stay under current program rules for the life of their solar array. That’s important direction for the agency as it implements the bill in 2014.
From Governor Brown: “This comprehensive rate reform legislation provides the CPUC with the necessary authority to address current electricity rate inequities, protect low-income energy users and maintain robust incentives for renewable energy investments. Specifically, the bill gives the CPUC the authority to craft new electricity rate structures while increasing statutory discounts for qualified low-income customers. It also requires the electric utilities to develop distribution infrastructure plans to ensure that ratepayer dollars are being utilized in the most efficient way possible. Finally, the bill makes it clear that California’s 33% RPS is a floor, not a ceiling. As the CPUC considers rules regarding grandfathering of net metering customers, I expect the Commission to ensure that customers who took service under net metering prior to reaching the statutory net metering cap on or before July 1, 2017, are protected under those rules for the expected life of their systems.”
Here’s a quick summary of what the bill does for rooftop solar in California:
- It ensures that one of California’s most important solar consumer rights, our net metering program, will stay in place until customers of the three large utilities have hit the existing five percent program cap, likely around 2016 or 2017. Before the bill was signed, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was considering suspending the program as soon as the end of 2014.
- Our existing net metering program is currently rather arbitrarily capped at 5% of utilities’ peak load – beyond which the utilities are no long required to provide net metering credit for that valuable clean energy being generated by new solar customers. This bill directs the CPUC to ensure that after the existing 5% program cap has been met, rooftop solar customers will continue to receive some form of fair credit on their utility bills for the clean energy they send back to the grid with no future cap. If the CPUC designs a post-5% program that continues to compensate solar customers fairly for the valuable power they’re delivering to the grid, we’ll continue to see steady growth in rooftop solar throughout the state, generating jobs and clean air benefits for all Californians.
- It allows the CPUC to require the big utilities to go beyond our current Renewable Portfolio Standard, the statewide target of getting 33% of our utility power from renewable energy by 2020. This bill makes 33% renewables a floor and not a ceiling, which is a huge step in fighting climate change and protecting public health.
Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.