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Schwarzenegger signs two solar bills with new incentives

Governor Schwarzenegger signed two major solar initiatives yesterday, AB 920 and SB 32 which continue California’s drive toward a Million Solar Roofs and create more Incentives to go solar.

“Californians have two more reasons to go solar tonight. Governor Schwarzenegger signed two popular

Porsche Solar Install in Ontario, CA by HelioPower

Porsche Solar Install in Ontario, CA by HelioPower

solar bills designed to give consumers added incentive to invest in a solar roof and help the state achieve its aggressive clean energy goals,” said the press statement at Environment California

AB 920, authored by Assembly member Jared Huffman (D-Marin) and sponsored by Environment California, radically changes the dynamic between consumer and utility by requiring utility companies to write a check to their customers for surplus solar electricity generated on an annual basis. Previously, under the state’s net metering law, utility companies were allowed to receive surplus solar electricity from their customers for free. AB 920 requires the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to set a rate at which utility companies shall compensate solar customers whenever a solar system generates more electricity than a home or business uses in a given year. 

“Instead of writing a check to your utility company, you’ll be getting a check back,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, clean energy advocate with Environment California which sponsored the legislation. “Changing the dynamic between utility and customer is key to encouraging more people to invest in solar power while also maximizing conservation and energy efficiency.”

AB 920 was supported by numerous groups and people around the state including the Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, NRDC, Planning and Conservation League and many more. It was also embraced by officials such as the San Diego Board of Supervisors.

“As we work towards increasing our energy independence and promoting renewable energy resources, this bill will encourage more people to invest in renewable energy,” said Assembly member Jared Huffman, author of the bill. “This goes a long ways towards California meeting its goal of the Million Solar Roofs initiative under SB1 and clean air standards established under AB 32, as well as ensuring that consumers get a fair return on their investment.”

SB 32, authored by Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) and sponsored by the California Solar Energy Industry Association, establishes a new feed-in-tariff program for the state. A feed-in-tariff policy requires utility companies to purchase solar electricity at a set rate over a twenty-year period. It has the potential to incentivize massive solar installations on large, unused spaces, such as parking lots and warehouses. This program has been used with much success in places like Germany.

“Watch out. California is about to give Germany a run for the money,” said Del Chiaro. “Every warehouse roof, every parking lot, every unused sunny space can now become a mini-power plant generating pollution free solar electricity all while making money for the property owner.”

“Solar feed in tariffs have given many commercial property owners in other parts of the world strong financial reasons to go solar,” said Steve LoRusso, Vice President, Sales for HelioPower.  “With these bills California property owners now have more reasons than ever to consider a solar power generation system as a cost effective, even now profitable, component of facility development. We look forward to working with more property owners to go solar with these incentives in place.”