California pushes a new plan to cut rooftop solar incentives
As part of its plan to cut net metering rebates it proposed on Tuesday to save money when California was facing a $14 billion budget deficit, the state’s energy secretary approved a package of changes that will have people pay just about $30 a year for a relatively small amount of energy.
The proposal would raise the price of electricity under net metering to $30 a month for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced by rooftop solar projects and $30 per month for a home’s solar thermal system. That would increase to $55 or $75 a year.
State regulators have until April 29 to decide if the proposal is feasible.
“It’s a great big bunch of money,” said Jeff Miller of the California Solar Energy Society, who noted that the monthly cost could rise even higher if California regulators decide to increase the incentive price as part of a larger plan that would also raise the state’s renewable standard to 33 percent from 29 percent.
“We would be in a real jam if they changed the standard,” Miller said. “It would be a tough place for small solar.”
California’s solar industry had wanted the incentive rates to be more competitive with other states, especially on the West Coast, because of “competitive electricity prices.”
They could not, however, agree on rates and net metering programs that other states had to offer.
The proposed changes would have solar owners pay a 1.6 percent tax on electricity sales, plus a 1.5 percent sales tax on solar equipment. But those solar tax incentives have been rejected by the state’s major utilities because they would result in higher power bills for residents and higher rates for businesses that purchased solar.
The new “fair market” net metering program would give solar owners and solar customers the same credit on their electricity