Fighting for the Growth of Local Solar and Storage
at All Levels of Government
For nearly forty years, we have put in place solar and storage policies and programs that have made California one of the biggest and most successful solar markets in the world.
The California Solar & Storage Association has played a leading role in legislation such as the California Solar Initiative, the Solar Rights Act, and recent laws limiting permit fees and boosting clean energy incentives. We intervene in CPUC proceedings such as net metering, Rule 21, SGIP program rules, and rate cases. And we jump in when code changes threaten the solar and storage market. We build support among California’s Congressional delegation for solar-friendly policies at the federal level such as the successful extension of the Investment Tax Credit.
Protecting NET METERING
Net metering is the foundational policy enabling California consumers to invest in solar energy in a cost-effective and efficient manner. In 2013, the California Legislature passed AB 327, which put in motion changes to net metering rules. We secured helpful language in the bill and then were at the forefront of the proceeding to develop NEM-2. We successfully convinced the CPUC to reject the utility proposals that would have gutted the solar market. We are now helping to lay the groundwork for NEM-3. Net metering will change, but we need to make sure the changes are gradual and do not impact customers that have already invested in solar.
- We are negotiating the details of the cost-benefit model that will be used to as the basis for NEM-3.
- We won preservation of net metering with gradual changes in the NEM-2 decision in 2016
- We secured 20-year grandfathering protections for all NEM-1 consumers in 2014
The California Solar & Storage Association represents solar and storage interests in rate cases at the California Public Utilities Commission. Utilities have large teams of analysts and lawyers that influence the Commission on rate design. It is essential that we take a seat at the table and present our analysis of the impacts of rate changes. We submit testimony, cross-examine utility representatives, write legal briefs, and meet directly with Commission officials.
- We resisted the worst aspects of the TOU rate proposals from each of the major utilities in California
- We negotiated storage-specific rates for PG&E residential and small commercial customers
- We successfully pushed SCE to open an additional 250 MW of capacity in the Option R rates in 2014 and are now pushing the CPUC to remove the cap altogether
- We won a restructuring of demand charges for SDG&E to make them more friendly to storage
DEVELOPING FAIR RATES
LOWERING SOFT COSTS
California’s solar and storage industry is striving to continually lower our costs to make energy investments affordable and cost-effective for all customers. In order to reduce prices, we need to lower all the expenses outside of actual hardware. Some of the biggest and avoidable soft costs include local permitting, utility interconnection processes, and illegal Homeowner Association opposition. We have a multi-pronged program to tackle all of these soft costs.
- In 2017, we sponsored and passed AB 1414 (Friedman). This bill extended the cap on solar permit fees to 2025, lowered the residential cap to $450, and expanded solar permit fee caps to ground-mounts and thermal.
- In 2014, we sponsored and passed AB 2188 (Muratsuchi), streamlining the permit process for small systems by requiring local jurisdictions to have only one inspection in most cases, creating a standard inspection checklist, and requiring jurisdictions to accept applications electronically.
- We shaped successful publication of the California Solar Permitting Guidebook of 2014 for both solar PV and solar water heating systems and are now working on a storage guidebook.
- We won a one-year emergency stay of UL 1703 code requirements when abrupt fire code changes threatened to disrupt the market
Solar Heating AND COOLING
Solar heating and cooling technologies, sometimes called solar thermal, capture heat energy from the sun and use it to heat water and air for homes, businesses and industrial uses. It is California’s oldest form of solar energy, and one of the most efficient ways of converting sunlight into usable energy for our homes and businesses.
The California Solar & Storage Association is working to ensure that solar water heating is a core piece of the state’s strategy for reducing natural gas and electricity use, and for meeting both its greenhouse gas reduction and zero energy building goals.
- In 2017, we sponsored and passed AB 797 (Irwin), extending the CSI-Thermal Program for two years to 2020
- We extended the solar permit fee cap to solar thermal systems in 2017 and included solar thermal in the state guidebook to streamline permitting in 2014
- In 2015, the CPUC approved our petition to increase rebate levels for solar water heating systems
Solar and storage for All
The California Solar & Storage Association believes that all California consumers should have access to solar power and energy storage. Our vision is for local solar and storage to be as commonplace and accessible as cell phones and double-paned windows. Until we reach that level of market access, California will be leaving too much pollution-free sunshine on the table, unnecessarily building polluting power plants and subjecting ratepayers to added costs.
We worked closely with the California environmental justice community to pass a 10-year, $1 billion program to install solar on low-income apartment buildings and disadvantaged communities. The key requirement of this program is that the solar energy will directly benefit the tenants in bill savings. The CPUC recently approved the implementation of this new program, called Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH). We will be working to implement this groundbreaking new program as well as expand solar and storage access and jobs for all Californians.
- In 2015, we sponsored and passed AB 693 (Eggman), creating a $1 billion, 10-year solar rebate program for solar on low-income housing and in disadvantaged communities
- We have worked to extend and implement the Multifamily Affordable Solar Homes program and the Single-family Affordable Solar Housing program.
- We are working with workforce training programs to expand employment opportunities in solar and storage for people from disadvantaged communities.