California may be changing its solar energy incentivesJanuary 26, 2016
State is being encouraged to further extend its solar energy incentives
California officials are being encouraged to extend incentive initiatives that support the adoption of solar energy throughout the state. The California government has offered financial incentives to thousands of homeowners and businesses in order to encourage the expansion of the state’s solar energy capacity. Backed by these incentives, California has some 450,000 solar units installed, which were put in place over the past few years. Without incentives, clean power advocates fear that the growth of the solar energy sector will slow considerably.
Net metering has become a successful way to promote the adoption of solar power
California has a net metering system in place. Under this system, utilities are obligated to purchase excess electrical power that is being produced by rooftop solar energy systems. This has become quite popular among homeowners, but utilities have a longstanding grudge against the system. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has often complained that the net metering system is overly generous, at times supporting failed solar energy projects for the sake of grid stability. Utilities also suggest that net metering forces consumers without solar energy systems to indirectly subsidize those that do have such systems.
Public Utilities Commission proposes changes to net metering system
The California Public Utilities Commission may have a solution to this problem. The agency recently introduced a proposal to change the way net metering works in the state. Per the proposal, homeowners who have solar energy systems would pay a one-time fee of as much as $150. This fee will allow the homeowner to connect their new energy system to the state’s grid. The proposal would also have these homeowners pay an extra $5 monthly to offset the cost of electrical power for those without access to solar energy.
Solar market likely to continue thriving in the coming years
While advocates of solar energy have expressed disfavor for the proposal from the California Public Utilities Commission, the solar industry does not believe that the proposal would have a significant impact on the growth of the solar market. As long as incentives are in place, consumers and businesses alike are likely to continue supporting solar energy.
First, solar is the only form of renewable energy so why should they get the most of the state-sponsored financial incentives? Second, if you really want to encourage the use of renewable energy how about providing tax breaks to the distributed energy sector or at least give homeowners a huge tax break if they purchase a in-home battery system that will allow them to store energy for the wrong use rather than be forced to sell it back to the local utility?