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Petition to Protect Solar Rights


  07:19:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 405 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Utilities, Residential Solar, Net Metering

Petition to Protect Solar Rights

Vote Solar Initiative websiteOur friends over at the Vote Solar Initiative have a petition campaign underway to garner support for California’s solar program.  We’ve signed on and we encourage you to do so as well.

Last year the legislature passed a major piece of legislation, AB 327, that deals with the future of net metering.  While that was a short-term victory for solar advocates, it put the long-term future of net metering in the hands of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Alas, that result was a decidedly mixed blessing, as departing Commissioner Ferron recently noted:

But recognize that this is a poisoned chalice: the Commission will come under intense pressure to use this authority to protect the interests of the utilities over those of consumers and potential self-generators, all in the name of addressing exaggerated concerns about grid stability, cost and fairness. You – my fellow Commissioners — all must be bold and forthright in defending and strengthening our state’s commitment to clean and distributed energy generation

Which brings us back to the petition campaign over at Vote Solar. 

Here’s the petition text in full:

Dear California Public Utilities Commissioners,

I am signing this petition because I believe in protecting Californians’ right to go solar and receive full credit for the clean energy they deliver to the grid.

California has more than 200,000 solar roofs, and we expect to boost that number to half a million by the end of 2017.  The policy of net metering has been crucial to recent growth and the creation of local jobs around the state. Rooftop solar systems reliably produce electricity for 30 years or more, and Californians invest in rooftop solar because they expect long-term bill savings over the life of the system.

Under Assembly Bill 327, the Commission must decide how long solar customers may continue under current net metering rules. Changing the rules unexpectedly for customers who have already made solar investments and signed contracts would be unfair and would drastically slow our state’s solar momentum.

I urge you to stay the course and allow customers who install solar under the current program to continue under current net metering rules for at least 30 years.

We believe that the CPUC needs to hear from as many Californians in support of solar as possible.  Trust me, they are already hearing plenty from the lobbyists for SCE, PG&E and SDG&E. 

Please take a moment to add your name in support of rooftop solar by signing Vote Solar’s petition.



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Comment from:
5 stars
We All need as much roof top solar (& other local solar) possible. It saves habitat from large installations that take away nesting, feeding and other habitat for birds & animals (desert tortoise is a favorite of mine) and requires no huge transmission lines. Let’s encourage more local solar in all ways possible. It’s clean, it uses space already dedicated to housing or business & it gets shared locally when there’s more power generated than the solar owner can use at any moment! Everyone benefits when each individual installs and uses rooftop solar. The idea that solar owners are getting a free ride is misinformation perpetrated by those hoping to keep fossil interests in power.
01/22/14 @ 22:13
Comment from:
We do not need to exchange One Utility for Another ( Solar Leasing Company ) Net Metering has allowed Middleman to take away your Earnings and Savings. “The High Cost of a Solar Middleman If there’s no such thing as a free lunch, then how can Americans get solar on their roof with “zero money down” and lower their electric bill? Solar leasing, as it’s often called, is a clever market solution to poor federal and state policy design that otherwise requires Americans to do financial acrobatics to power their home or business with solar. But solar leasing adds significantly to the cost of solar energy. New data from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources published last year suggests that state taxpayers that will pay (a lot) more to make solar easy to install for individuals and businesses, and to make solar energy lucrative for solar leasing companies. The report estimates the necessary production based incentive (in dollars per megawatt-hour of electricity produced) to support the development of solar. Specifically, the researchers priced a “10-year levelized incentive…that allows system owners to achieve their target economic rate of return.” The analysis notably focused on ownership structures, either 3rd party ownership (solar leasing) or host ownership (owned by the home or business owner). The following chart shows the difference in state incentives necessary to support a small-scale (15 kW or less) solar array that is either owned by a 3rd party or the actual electric customer. host v 3rd party ownership solar incentive mass The bottom line is that leased solar arrays require more than double the incentive needed to support customer-owned solar arrays. Not only do leasing companies require more revenue, but customers of leasing companies get less than solar owners, because they presumably sign contracts for electricity that are less than the net metering they would receive in owning a solar array. Why does solar leasing cost more ? In the words of the report authors, “These transactions often require attracting additional tax-motivated parties to the project financing, and at considerable expense for transaction and capital.” How much more expensive? A host-owned solar array is expected to get financing at 4% interest and have a return on equity expectation of 4%. A solar leasing company is expected to pay 6% interest on shorter-term debt and to require 15% return on equity. It might seem convenient to blame solar leasing companies for this problem, but they’re merely opportunists in a poor policy environment. Making your money back on solar in America is complicated. It requires a combination of tax savvy, skilled navigation of state bureaucracies, persistence at a local permitting office and limited options for low-cost financing. Compared to Germany, with a simple, non-nonsense long-term contract that permits low financing costs and broad participation, America’s solar market is a joke (and the installed cost of solar is much higher as a result). Furthermore, big banks have also played a role in inflating solar leasing costs to taxpayers, using a legal loophole to collect tax incentives based on (higher) estimated costs of solar installations instead of actual costs. Leasing company SolarCity was notable targeted by the Treasury Department for its participation in the practice. In other words, we pay twice for bad solar policy in America. Complicated tax incentive, interconnection, and contract policy makes solar cost more to install than in mature markets like Germany. Solar leasing middlemen simplify the complications, but at a price premium to (complicated) individual ownership. Even though sunshine is free, no kind of solar power is a free lunch.” John Farrell
01/23/14 @ 13:53
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO
We certainly do not need to exchange our present utilities for another (i.e., leasing companies) - which is why Run on Sun has never bought into the residential leasing programs. It is also why we are pleased to be offering two different loan programs to our clients which will save them thousands of dollars over what their savings would be from leasing. (See our solar financing page for more details.) But that said, we still need to protect net metering, unless and until rate schedules are completely redesigned to properly account for the residential solar client’s contributions to the grid. As a statewide FiT is not in the cards anytime soon, this is the only game in town and we need to protect it. Jim
01/24/14 @ 07:08
Comment from:
5 stars
I like that this is a way to work with the commission but is there a way that we can take this to the Californian people that care about solar as a way to provide cleaner energy? Is it possible to enable a transition from utility run power line maintenance to solar power company run maintenance? Could solar city and other solar companies bid against the utility company for a specific municipality? This would make the companies compete on service, price and innovation. Imagine a municipal battery bank that allowed for storage for night use. It would reduce the power transmission, loss and more efficiently use the power produced in a city. By contrast for cities that don’t make these investments they can continue to use traditional means or buy electricity from the neighboring city at market rate. This is to say that there is no loss to these city that chose not to invest in solar. If there’s an economist out there I’d love to see what the models predict would happen at a macro scale. Would the loss or disruption of the utilities have a negative or positive effect? Would it result in a more efficient use of resources and make the population better off? Could the solar companies actually compete with the utilities?
06/21/15 @ 23:08
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO
Interesting thoughts - perhaps an economist will chime in! Thanks for writing. Jim
06/22/15 @ 06:48

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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