California might gut incentives for solar panels.

California’s environmental advocates divided on recent proposal by government

California is making changes by removing perks for solar rooftop owners, and also working on shifting the city towards clean electricity entirely. Environmental advocates are divided on their opinions on whether this will really push the trCalifornia is making changes by removing perks for solar rooftop owners, and also working on shifting the city towards clean electricity entirely.ansition towards clean energy. Also, there is a growing concern for lower-income residents adapting solar rooftops without the perks.

California might gut incentives for solar panels.
Image credits- Los Angeles times

They’re different opinions on the recent proposal made last month by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). It would remove solar incentives for customers of investor-owned utilities. By implementing a new monthly fee to connect solar customers to the grid, California will create a $600 million fund to help underrepresented communities gain access to solar panels and batteries. Certain industry and conservation groups point out that the changes would end California’s solar boom. Tesla recently went so far as to send its employees talking points on how to fight back against the proposal. However, other environmental and consumer advocates support the proposal and say California needs to do things differently. They say that it would help lower-income residents who haven’t received as many benefits from rooftop solar to date.

Solar industry people

California is a state with more homes having rooftop PV panels than any other state. It was possible partly because of a history of generous incentives for people with home solar systems. It enabled a system where, if someone doesn’t use up all the solar energy their panels collect, they can sell it back to the grid. The system comes under the state’s “net metering” program. Solar rooftop owners can sell it at the same retail rate at which they would buy electricity. This program is supposed to help people recoup the costs of installing their solar systems. However, if the CPUC ultimately votes to approve its new proposal, the selling price would drop gradually to better represent the commission’s estimates of what that energy is actually worth.

This is why the solar industry people are freaking out. “People are almost in tears, you know, like grown men that built their whole life around their business and their company,” says Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar & Storage Association. Her group is one out of about 600 organizations that have put together a coalition to stop the CPUC’s proposal.

Meanwhile, opponents of the proposal worry that people don’t earn as much by selling energy back to the grid. Then they won’t be able to recoup the tens of thousands of dollars they might have spent installing the system. While the CPUC thinks solar customers could recoup those costs within ten years. But, critics say the new proposal would greatly stretch out the amount of time it would take to do so. Additionally, the CPUC wants to impose a new monthly “grid participation charge” of $8 per kW that could come out to several hundred dollars a year, to go toward maintaining the grid.