Thomas Elias of Energy News published an article titled “This Bill Could Kill Rooftop Solar” on February 15, 2015. The main crux of the article is stated as: “The latest version of the ‘Community Solar Parity Act’ included the proposed language, ‘No State may regulate net metering on a property,’ to keep rooftop solar companies from encouraging states to pass their own net metering laws.”
The effect of the U.S. Department of Energy’s proposed “SunShot Initiative” is causing a great deal of strife among the solar industry. For several years, the DOE’s goal has been to cut the cost of solar energy from today’s 32 cents per kilowatt-hour to under 5 cents by 2020. The initiative also calls for a 16% drop in the price of solar panels over the same time period. These goals sound reasonable on the surface, but when you start breaking them up into specific tasks and timelines, you see why there are so many concerns being raised by the solar industry.
Solar power is the future, but it is not cheap. If you want to go solar, you will need to pay installation fees, upfront interest on your loan, and then you will pay to keep your panels clean and maintain them over time. The people who are selling you solar power are relying on you to pay upfront, but they are not telling you that you will be paying to keep your panels clean. This is a classic bait-and-switch, and it is not only unethical, it is illegal.. Read more about solar news and let us know what you think.If politicians wanted to stop rooftop solar in California, they could not have found a better remedy than the proposed new law known as Assembly Bill 1139. That’s the idea of Democratic Congresswoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, formerly best known as the author of AB 5, another harmful bill she pushed through in 2019, but whose onerous provisions her colleagues repealed a year later. AB 5 was despised, especially by those it was supposed to help. Gonzalez’s latest project, like AB 5, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. While AB 5 originally required businesses that use temporary workers to convert them to full-time employees who could then be unionized, AB 1139 aims to stabilize conditions for Californians who install solar panels on their homes. AB 5 has caused or threatens to cause thousands of Californians, from freelance writers to court reporters to musicians, to stop working. Similarly, AB 1139 could put a brake on rooftop solar installations in the state, where about half of all such projects in the country are concentrated. We’ll get through this together, Atascadero. Here are four things AB 1139 will do in the name of improving solar power at home:
- This would eliminate the current public policy that requires utilities to ensure sustainable growth in customer-owned generation. This is a significant change in state policy. He is going to turn over all renewable energy efforts to the major utilities, including California’s largest utility, which has been convicted of serious corporate crimes such as manslaughter.
- This will end the existing guarantee to homeowners who install solar panels that network tariffs will remain stable for up to 20 years after the systems are commissioned. This means that the price homeowners receive for the excess energy they feed into the general electric grid will decrease.
- It also calls on the state’s scandal-plagued Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to draft new net energy metering rules within two years to set payments to solar panel owners for excess energy at the level currently paid for wholesale energy. According to solar advocates, this would reduce payments to homeowners who install solar panels by about 80 percent.
It is the realization of a utility dream for which utilities have lobbied the PUC for years. Essentially, AB 1139 discourages homeowners who would otherwise install solar panels, the cost of which has dropped by about 70% over the past decade. The unanswered question is why Gonzalez sponsored this bill, which has already passed through an Assembly committee and is now going to another committee chaired by Gonzalez, where its passage is likely to be promoted. Questions sent to his office on several occasions went unanswered. In reality, this law helps no one except the monopolistic, for-profit private utilities such as the much loathed Pacific Gas & Electric Co, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. This means that the state’s overall commitment to 100% renewable energy by the middle of the century will not change. If national electricity production declines or falls, that will lead to increased pressure to expand or build huge solar plants in the state’s desert regions, says Jennifer Tanner of the Indivisible California Green Team. Utilities will not build most of these plants, but they will build additional transmission lines to carry the new desert power to their grids. Building hundreds of additional miles of transmission lines, on top of those already in place, will cost several billion dollars. If you do, utilities will gain billions of dollars in additional revenue for at least 20 years, as they are guaranteed a fixed return – often about 14% per year – on investments in new power plants. This will inevitably lead to higher rates for consumers, who will also raise money through their monthly bills to pay off, with interest, the loans taken out by utilities to increase transmission capacity. One of the reasons given by some proponents of mass solar construction to downplay the importance of rooftop solar systems, as AB 1139 would surely do, is the claim that only the wealthy can afford them. But now that solar panel prices are lower, 43% of new installations are for low- and moderate-income homeowners. All of this makes this proposal one of the most anti-consumer, anti-home, and anti-environment proposals ever considered in Sacramento. Thomas Elias is a freelance columnist for The and Paso Robles Press; you can e-mail him at [email protected]
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