Standing on the steps of the California State Capitol, over 200 solar and storage workers from all over the state gathered on Wednesday to rally for S.B.700, a bill that would replenish incentives for residential and commercial energy storage systems.
According to the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA), the bill is critically important for helping to meet the state’s clean energy goals, address grid reliability issues and protect tens of thousands of solar jobs as so-called “time of use” rates hit consumer energy bills in 2019.
“We’ve come out by the hundreds from all over the state to speak directly with our elected officials about the urgency of supporting energy storage in California,” says Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of CALSSA, the bill’s sponsor. ”S.B.700 will do for storage what S.B.1 did for solar over a decade ago – namely, create a mainstream market by driving up demand and driving down costs all while creating jobs and clean energy choices for consumers.”
S.B.700 would reauthorize the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) for an additional five years, extending rebates for homeowners, nonprofits and businesses through 2025. It would add up to $700 million to the SGIP program, creating stability and certainty to an emerging new technology, explains CALSSA.
“If we are going to get to 100 percent clean energy, we need to be using solar power every hour of the day, not just when the sun is shining,” says State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, author of S.B.700. “This bill will protect clean energy jobs while also protecting consumers from ever-rising energy bills.”
According to CALSSA, the California solar industry supports over 86,000 jobs in the state. However, the association says, these jobs are in jeopardy unless the energy storage market achieves the same economies of scale achieved in the solar PV market, which saw an 80% decline in costs over the course of the state’s 10-year incentive program, the Million Solar Roofs Initiative. This is because “time of use” rates will make energy storage a necessity of every solar system, but without cost reductions in storage, the state could suffer a setback in its deployment of solar energy, CALSSA says.
“More than 20 percent of Sunrun’s direct solar customers in California are adding a home battery to their system, with up to 60 percent adoption in some markets,” says Alex McDonough, vice president of public policy for Sunrun. “Senator Weiner’s legislation provides clear and consistent policy that will drive down costs, expand access and support job growth. Solar combined with batteries is a clean, reliable and affordable solution that can, and should, be available to all.”
S.B.700 is currently in the Assembly appropriations committee. If it passes that committee, it will proceed to the Assembly floor the following week. It passed the Senate last year, so it would only need to return for a concurrence vote before heading to the governor’s desk, notes CALSSA.