The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has issued a proposed decision that, if finalized, will dramatically change how owners of rooftop solar in the state get compensated for the energy they provide to the electric grid, according to Environment California.
After proposing controversial changes to the state’s landmark rooftop solar program in December 2021, the CPUC faced public backlash, reopened discussion on the proposed changes and has now updated its proposal. CPUC’s revision addresses numerous critiques raised by Environment California in response to previous drafts.
The new proposed draft eliminates the solar tax, or “grid participation fee,” that the previous proposal would have implemented on solar consumers. It honors the commitment to pay current rates to existing solar energy system owners who send excess power they generate to the grid. On the down side, the proposed decision slashes the rate at which new solar consumers can sell their excess electricity back to the grid by 70-80%, reducing a key incentive for people to install solar in their homes and recoup their investment within a reasonable time frame.
California produces more solar energy than any state in the nation, but to meet its ambitious climate and clean energy goals, including generating 100% of its power from clean energy sources by 2045, California needs to quadruple its rooftop solar capacity, states Environment California.
Oral arguments will take place at CPUC and a final vote scheduled for December 15.
“At a time when California needs rooftop solar to flourish, it’s risky to cut a key incentive without having a viable alternative in place,” says Environment California State Director Laura Deehan. “California’s decision-makers need to make rooftop solar as affordable and accessible as possible so that every household with solar potential can realistically make the choice to go solar. While the revised proposal eliminates the solar tax and protects current solar customers, it will make transitioning to solar power more expensive.”
“If we want to protect the environment, our climate and our health, we must keep rooftop solar growing and continue incentivizing the growth of clean, renewable energy across California,” Deehan adds.
Environment America, a part of The Public Interest Network, is a national network of 30 state environmental groups.