Million Solar Roofs Bill Heads to the Governor’s Desk

Many solar advocates thought this would never occur. After two long years, the Million Solar Roofs bill, SB 1 (Murray), passed the Senate Floor on Tuesday by a vote of 36 to 4, clearing the state legislature and heading to the governor’s desk for his up or down approval.

SB 1 received overwhelming support on the Senate Floor from both sides of the aisle with all twenty-five Democratic Senators voting in favor of the bill and eleven of the fifteen Republican Senators voting for the bill. Should SB 1 become law, it, combined with the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) California Solar Initiative, California will have created the largest solar program in the country aiming to build 3,000 MW of solar power — the equivalent of 6 large power plants — on homes, businesses, farms, and schools throughout the state. The Million Solar Roofs bill, SB 1, contains three main policies intended to accompany the California Solar Initiative established by the PUC in January to provide rebates for ratepayers in PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric territories. The policies contained in SB 1 include: – Lift on net metering cap enabling consumers to receive a credit on their electric bill for excess energy generated by their solar system. Current law caps the number of customers in each utility territory to 0.5% of a utility’s total load. SB 1 would lift this cap to 2.5%. An estimated 5% lift is ultimately needed to build a million solar roofs in California. – Mandate that all homebuilders, by 2011, make solar panels a standard option for homebuyers, just like marble countertops. The bill would also direct the California Energy Commission to convene a proceeding to determine if and when solar power should become a standard feature of new construction. – Sets a goal that California’s municipal utilities, such as Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, adopt their own solar rebate program totaling $800 million. The Public Utilities Commission does not have legal authority over the municipal utilities so legislation is needed to create a statewide solar rebate program. In creating this goal, SB 1 would remove $800 million from the $3.2 billion in the PUC’s California Solar Initiative, lowering total available funds in investor-owned utility territory to $2.4 billion. “With this bill California will get busy building a million solar roofs,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, clean energy advocate for Environment California. “Solar power is the wave of the future. Thanks to this bill and the efforts of many, California can become the Saudi Arabia of the sun.” Jan McFarland, ASPv/PVMA Executive Director based in Sacramento said that the solar industry has finally gained bipartisan support for the nation’s largest and most comprehensive solar program in the United States. “This landmark legislation ensures that solar energy will play a significant role by providing clean renewable power to the state,” McFarland said. “Over the course of the next decade, solar energy will be will be everywhere — in our homes, schools, and workplace.”
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