California pro-solar protestors march in defence of net metering and ITC

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email

Hundreds of pro-solar protestors and representatives from industry and advocacy groups marched on California’s state capital yesterday, intent on defending net metering policies and lobbying for extension of the investment tax credit (ITC).

California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) and The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), a group formed by several big rooftop solar installers, organised yesterday’s event, which was attended by solar industry workers and their families in yellow t-shirts emblazoned with the slogans, “Solar created my job”, and, “Keep solar jobs going!”.

TASC claimed that over 200 people attended the event, arranged in response to plans put forward by California’s three investor-owned utilities for solar support programmes to replace existing net metering arrangements.

Due to falling costs and the relative success of support programmes in fostering large amounts of solar deployment, the state’s regulator, the California Public Utilities’ Commission (CPUC), requested the utilities to come up with their suggestions for successor tariffs to net metering, which exists in one form or another in 43 of the US states.

Two of the three, Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), submitted their proposals around the beginning of August with the other, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), to follow. Presuming they are accepted, CPUC will then have to decide by the end of the year which tariffs will apply, although the changes will not actually be implemented until 2017, or when the three utilities reach a threshold of obtaining 5% of their electricity generation through net metered solar, whichever comes first.

In common with similar ongoing movements in other parts of the US, the plans submitted by SCE and PG&E call for monthly fees to be applied to the tariffs of future residential solar connections, ostensibly to pay for the use of the electrical grid. SCE pointed out that solar system owners will remain reliant on grid infrastructure for some of their electricity and claimed that some costs are being borne by non-solar utility customers. In a statement circulated to press to lay out its proposal, the utility also said it would not raise additional profit from the new plan.

“Customers who generate power remain connected to the power network and in fact it is the network that enables them to import and export power from their systems. This proposal does not increase the total amount of money or profits SCE receives from its customers,” the utility said.

In addition, residents who newly install solar would receive less for their net metered electricity than before under both utilities’ plans. TASC and CALSEIA claim that this, combined with the expected drop of the federal ITC at the end of 2017 from 30% to 10% mean that the solar industry in California faces “a major cliff within the next fifteen months” as the policy changes come into effect.

CALSEIA’s executive director, Bernadette Del Chiaro, said that yesterday’s event was about saving jobs in the state.

“This cliff we are speeding toward could unnecessarily cost the state tens of thousands of quality jobs, which is the opposite direction we should be headed,” Del Chiaro said.

In a statement, TASC said the CPUC was “under pressure” from the three utilities to “end net metering and thereby crush the rooftop solar industry”. The group lamented the fact this would mean limited choices for customers who wanted “cleaner, cheaper energy” and the lack of competition this could result in.

TASC could only give estimates of how many workers and companies would be affected, claiming that as many as 40% of California solar companies could lay off employees.

Buying out disruption

Another criticism that has been levelled at utilities from a number of sources, including analyst John Farrell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), is that utilities in various parts of the US are attempting to co-opt or own rooftop solar programmes. In 'If you can’t beat ‘em, own ‘em – utilities muscle in to rooftop solar market', a piece published on 11 August on the ILSR blog, Farrell said that around the US, utilities are waking up to the disruption to their existing revenues posed by solar and “want a piece of the action”.

“In the past five years, rooftop solar has revealed the limitations of the archaic electric utility business model, as customers have found generating their own power more cost effective than taking 100% of their energy from the incumbent monopoly,” Farrell wrote.

“For years, utilities have fought back by trying to make competition less cost effective, at a substantial cost to their image (and ratepayer’s own money). Now they want a piece of the action.”

According to Farrell’s analysis of proposed programmes by two utilities in Arizona, the customer benefit of utility ownership would be dwarfed by the increase in financial benefit enjoyed by the utilities, Tucson Electric Power and Arizona Public Service.

Presumably a tone of conciliation will be sought eventually. TASC was founded by a number of rooftop solar companies, including SolarCity, the management of which has said, through statements and blogs by CTO Peter Rive and others, that it sees collaboration with utilities as natural and ultimately could be of benefit to all parties, especially as even newer technologies such as energy storage are introduced to networks.

A representative of another TASC member company, Sunrun, said that above all the industry craves certainty and said net metering is the only state-level support scheme proven to assist deployment.

“The rooftop solar industry needs long-term certainty. Net metering is the only proven state policy that puts solar into the hands of homeowners, renters, schools, churches, farmers and businesses”, Walker Wright, Sunrun’s director of public policy, said.

22 September 2021
To commemorate the World Energy Storage Day(WESD) on 22 September, being recognized worldwide, Customized Energy Solutions (CES) and India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) is organising the 5th global conference and virtual expo, which will be held virtually on 22 September 2021. WESD is a global movement initiated by various apex trade bodies working to promote and adopt energy storage, e-mobility & green hydrogen technologies for a sustainable future. The forthcoming edition of WESD is expected to attract global participation with an intent to facilitate bi-lateral trade, market development and new research and innovation, which will invite 100+ countries, 100+ regulators & policy makers, 100+ International speakers,1000+ organisations, 100+ partners & exhibitors and 20,000+ global delegates.
28 September 2021
Solar Solutions International is the largest trade show for solar energy in Northwest Europe. Now the solar market has grown up, it's time for the next step. Solar Solutions International displays more than 500 innovations and over 100 practical seminars concerning the latest in energy storage, smart products, and an ever evolving array of solar panels. As an exclusively B2B trade show, Solar Solutions International offers both exhibitors and visitors the chance to network at the highest level. Duurzaam Verwarmd, the largest trade show for sustainable HVAC technology in the Benelux, is held simultaneously. This way your one visit gets you up to date with all of the developments in both sustainable energy and heating.
6 October 2021
Intersolar Europe is the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry. It takes place as part of The smarter E Europe – the continent’s largest platform for the energy industry. Under the motto “Connecting solar business,” manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, service providers and project planners and developers from around the world meet in Munich every year to discuss the latest developments and trends, explore innovations firsthand and meet potential new customers.
6 October 2021
The future is bright for a new era of US solar and storage, and the 8th annual Solar & Storage Finance Summit will provide opportunities to discuss solutions to the industry’s challenges and provide a networking platform designed to bring together the top minds in the industry to do business. With a mix of high-level, informative presentations and panels, a stellar cast of speakers and audience members with deal-making capacity, the 2021 edition of the event will be a sell-out success.
18 October 2021
Intersolar South America, South America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry, takes place at the Expo Center Norte in São Paulo, Brazil on October 18–20, 2021, and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. At the accompanying Intersolar South America Conference, renowned experts shed light on hot topics in the solar industry.
19 October 2021
This year’s EV World Congress will hold a special role, not only as the first live EverythingEV event in over a year – a chance to renew your connections and re-engage with the EV sector face to face – but also as a chance to share insight and inspiration as world starts to look towards move on post COVID towards hitting ambitious decarbonisation goals in 2030 and beyond. As ever, we will be bringing world leading organisations, cities, and technology providers to the UK to inspire EV innovators, and delve into the challenges facing the sector as the UK looks to revolutionise road transport.

Read Next

September 22, 2021
More than 190 US solar companies have warned that proposed duties on imports of modules and cells from three Southeast Asian countries represent an “immediate and serious threat” to America’s solar sector.
September 22, 2021
Access to off-grid electricity should be seen as a key mechanism to drive rural development and improve economic wellbeing and living standards in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), according to a new report by University College London’s (UCL) Engineering for International Development Centre and off-grid, pay-as-you go solar company BBOXX.
September 22, 2021
A project combining 300MWac of solar with a 150MWac/600MWh battery energy storage facility in New Mexico has advanced after DE Shaw agreed to acquire it.
September 22, 2021
Generac Power Systems has bolstered its presence in the microinverter segment with the launch of a new product line that it says allows homeowners to take advantage of the full potential output of solar arrays.
September 22, 2021
Oil and gas major Shell has launched the Shell Energy brand in Brazil and has committed to investing R$3 billion (US$570 million) in renewables in the country by the end of 2025
September 22, 2021
China has appealed a recent World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that rejected the country’s challenges to the US' safeguard tariffs on certain crystalline silicon PV cells.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
October 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021
BRISTOL, UK
Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021