Solar

Million Solar Roofs Initiative Off and Running

Members of the California Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee passed the Million Solar Roofs Initiative, SB 1, by a vote of 10 to 0, with one abstention.

With many of California’s environmental and renewable energy groups working feverishly in support of SB1, the Senate Energy Committee debated for nearly 3 hours with only six of the eleven total members going on record in the final vote. SB 1 is the largest solar energy legislation ever introduced in the United States. It provides ten years of incentives to help Californians install one million solar energy systems on homes and businesses by 2018, creating 3000 megawatts of new clean power – the equivalent of 60 peaking power plants – and preventing the release of 50 million tons of greenhouse gases. In voting to pass the bill, the committee expressed an interest that future versions of SB1 include adequate system performance standards. The call for such standards could eventually lead to a shift in determining how PV incentive programs in California are funded. The next stop for the bill will likely be either the Senate Appropriations Committee or the Senate Rules Committee. Utilities were strong in their opposition to the SB1 legislation, with the notable exception of Pacific Gas & Electric (PGE) who weighed in to support this latest effort to make California the world’s third major solar “economy” following Germany and Japan. Members of the legislature considered a similar bill, SB 199, last year, but failed to reach a level of support and consensus among the majority of California’s lawmakers. This time around, SB 1 has been actively supported by groups such as Americans for Solar Power (ASPv), the Vote Solar Initiative and Environment California, among a long list of others. An Op-ed piece submitted to the Oakland Tribune represented the support of six California mayors. “With this bill, California has the chance to lead the country in the effort to bring clean energy into the mainstream,” the letter stated. “As mayors, we believe California’s role should be to pioneer the technologies of the future that will produce clean energy here at home. With our energy and environmental future in the balance, this is a moment for visionary leadership and cooperation. California has the opportunity to bring solar energy into the mainstream and we should not miss it.” Democratic Sen. Kevin Murray authored and sponsored the bill. (For a complete text of the bill with current amendments visit the links below this story.)