Solar

Gov. Schwarzenegger Backs New Million Solar Roofs Effort

After the legislative demise of the Million Solar Roofs Initiative this summer, supporters have looked towards the California Public Utilities Commission as the next and most promising avenue for passing the program. That effort is officially underway after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this week called for the advancement of the program and specifically cited the CPUC as the way to do so.

The CPUC has a pending regulatory package with provisions to carry out this incentive program and promote solar installations in residential construction. On Thursday, the Governor announced his intention to “aggressively pursue” his initiative with the CPUC, overcoming the obstacles presented by the Legislature and its special interest issues at the end of this year’s session. “Energy is one of the most important issues in our state. Solar energy is a renewable resource, and one that California should capitalize on. By producing power from the sun, we are cleaning the air, helping our climate, and reducing the burden on our electricity transmission grid,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “Unfortunately, special interests were put in front of the peoples’ interests when Senate Bill 1 was amended with rules and requirements that would only benefit labor unions instead of consumers, our environment and energy supplies.” Schwarzenegger played a major role in crafting the legislation. The proposal (SB1) to put one million solar installations on homes and businesses in California stalled in September after union-sponsored amendments made it unsupportable by Republicans and some Democrats. The Governor’s initiative is a comprehensive incentive-based approach to solar development including new home construction, industrial and commercial uses. By encouraging the integration of solar power, the initiative would provide approximately 3,000 MW – enough to power three million homes – of peak energy, the most costly and scarce energy available. The proposal establishes a 13-year declining rebate structure designed to expand the use of solar energy in homes and businesses across California. The Solar Million Roofs Initiative had bipartisan support until the end of the legislative session when union-sponsored amendments made it unsupportable because of increased costs associated with required prevailing wages and non-solar related labor provisions. SB1 stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee (for solar industry reaction to union issues, see the link below to read a related story).