Two Big Pro-Solar Bills Advance Key California Legislative Committee

Media Contacts

Bills to increase solar in farms and cities alike cleared Utilities & Commerce

Environment California

Sacramento – Two bills authored by California State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), which aim to expand the state’s solar market to more Californians, passed through the State Assembly’s Committee on Utilities and Commerce on Monday. Both bills have attracted broad sets of supporters, who are eager for the state to adopt solar programs that will reach new sets of customers, from farmers to apartment renters to businesses who lease their office spaces.

“In order to build on the state’s tremendous potential for further solar growth, we need smart policies such as these to attract more Californians to invest in our solar future,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California. “We congratulate Senator Wolk and the Committee on advancing two bills that will further diversify our solar market in much-needed ways.”

The first of the two bills, SB 594, would remove obstacles that are hindering customers with multiple meters from efficiently and effectively participating in the state’s landmark net metering program. For example, farmers with separate meters for each of their irrigation pumps and other functions are currently required to have separate renewable facilities for each meter in order to participate in the state’s successful net metering program. This is incredibly costly and inefficient. Nor does it allow the ability to optimize the location of the renewable facility on the property, since the incentive is to join the facility with the largest energy usage.  SB 594 removes this obstacle by allowing customers to aggregate all the energy consumed at each of their meters located on the same property as the renewable energy facility, and net that use against the power produced at a single renewable facility. The bill passed the Committee 13-0.

The second bill, SB 843, would expand access to renewable energy to households and businesses who cannot participate in current solar programs because they are renters or do not have a roof that is suitable for solar. Under this bill, these California households and businesses would gain access to virtual net-metered renewable energy. These customers would have the ability to voluntarily buy up to 100% renewable power from a shared community facility in their utility’s territory and receive a credit on their current utility bill.  The bill cleared the Committee with a 10-2 vote.

“We are encouraged by the strong votes of support for both  bills and believe that these important solar policies will continue to garner support moving forward,” concluded Kinman.