- The rooftop solar industry and California’s leading utilities, opponents in many policy debates, have joined forces in a current lobbying effort over rooftop solar, ClimateWire reports.
- A coalition of utilities and solar backers is pushing state regulators to allow customer-owned distributed generation (DG), including residential solar arrays, to count toward the state’s proposed 50% renewables by 2030 mandate.
- Utility-scale solar developers such as First Solar, NRG , SunEdison, and SunPower oppose that revision to the mandate. Although rooftop solar constitutes only an estimated 5% of the state’s current electricity mix, it is now growing faster than other solar market sectors and could pose a threat if given this new status.
The three 2030 goals of the legislation, SB 350: Golden State Standards, are to cut the use of petroleum in transportation 50%, obtain 50% of utility-generated electricity from renewables, and improve energy efficiency 50% in existing buildings.
Some policy makers see a compromise on the solar issue as an opportunity to move to these goals faster.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)-administered Renewable Portfolio Standard program is based on the definition of “eligible renewable energy resources” that does not fully include distributed generation (DG).
Sources at present eligible to be counted toward the mandate, according to the California Energy Commission (CEC), are biodiesel, biomass, renewable fuel cells, hydroelectric, utility-scale solar, wind, ocean wave and thermal and municipal solid waste.
Although rooftop solar and other types of DG are not on the list, they can be given “aggregated certification” and presently contribute about 15 MW toward the state’s mandate. Most DG does not qualify for this certification because the expense of meeting state-imposed metering and tracking standards is cost prohibitive for smaller-scale production.
“The legislature would have to give CPUC and CEC a clear signal to lower barriers to making DG RPS-eligible,” CEC Staff explained recently to Utility Dive. Such provisions were recently added to SB 350, which is under debate in the California Assembly.