The future of solar energy in the state of California just got a little brighter. Thanks to the recent passage of Assembly Bill 327 — a piece of legislation supported by solar advocacy groups and big investor owned utilities alike — rooftop solar will be accessible to more California residents.
When it comes to energy legislation, investor owned utilities (IOUs) such as PG&E and Southern California Edison are not very often on the same side of the fence as solar advocacy groups like The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) and the Vote Solar Initiative (VSI). However, thanks to the leadership and successful collaborative efforts of California Gov. Jerry Brown, AB 327 has brought the IOUs and solar advocates together.
Since AB 327 lifts the ceiling on percentage of California’s energy generation that must come from renewable sources and brings stability and certainty to state’s solar net metering program, it supports the objectives of solar advocacy groups. Net metering gives solar customers full retail credit for the excess energy they put back on the grid. AB 327 removes the suspension on net metering that would have gone into effect at the end of this year and paves the way for completely uncapped net metering.
The fact that the bill also includes provisions that give the California Public Utilities Commission new considerations for rate reform makes it attractive to IOUs.
Before the passage of AB 327, the future of net metering was uncertain. This uncertainty threatened continued growth, especially the notable growth that the industry has seen in lower and middle income communities in recent years. According to John Stanton, co-Chair of TASC and VP of Policy and Electricity Markets for Solar City, “Passage of this legislation means more Californians will now have access to cleaner, cheaper and better energy.” Greater stability that the continuation of the program provides in the solar market also equates to more jobs in the state.
Next stop for AB 327: the Governor’s desk.