The Solar Bill of Rights passes its first hurdle

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Today was a good day for solar in the Golden State. Following a 2 1/2 hour hearing in which 52 individuals, mostly consumers and solar workers, spoke in support of S288, the California Senate Energy Committee approved the bill 11-0.

The bill, dubbed the Solar Bill of Rights, will now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee as it will require California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to take action. If it clears there, passes both houses of the state legislature and goes on to become law, S288 will do four things:

  • Bar utilities from imposing discriminatory fees on the output of behind-the-meter PV and energy storage systems
  • Require regulators to establish a streamlined and standardized process for utilities to interconnect PV systems
  • Require regulators and the state’s grid operator to remove barriers to customer-sited energy resources participating in energy, capacity and ancillary services markets
  • Have utilities look at compensating distributed energy resources for the resiliency benefits they offer

 

The voice of the consumer

This legislation is the brainchild of SRA, an organization modeled on the National Rifle Association (NRA), only for rooftop solar advocacy, not gun advocacy. As such, unlike other solar advocacy organizations it is organized around consumers, and SRA says that those showed up in significant numbers to the hearing.

This appears to be in sharp contrast to the opposition. Dave Rosenfeld, SRA’s executive director, told pv magazine that all of those who testified against S288 were spokespersons for utilities.

Some of the consumers who attended appear concerned about policy actions from their local utilities, including Gabor Leidenfrost of Galt, California. A portion of his testimony follows:

I am a SMUD customer and brand new solar user. I chose solar to keep my electricity costs down and help us move to a sustainable future by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. But now SMUD wants to force me to pay hundreds of dollars more every year just because I have solar. It’s unfair and is why consumers need SB 288 — to protect the public from anti-consumer, anti-solar, monopolistic behavior by utilities.

 

Correction: This article was corrected at 8:45 AM on April 11, 2019. A previous version identified the bill as S228, when in fact it is S288. We regret the error.