California Governor Promises to Fix CSI

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced that he is sponsoring legislation to fix an unintended flaw in legislation passed last year that is hindering the California Solar Initiative (CSI).

The program, administered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), has been touted as the best in the country. But issues with Time of Use (TOU) rates have slowed applications for residential solar systems significantly. According to the CPUC, applications are down 78 percent in the first three months of the program compared with this time last year. TOU rates are changing prices for electricity depending on the time of day. Prices go up during the day when demand is highest, and go down at night when demand is reduced. TOU rates are important for encouraging energy conservation, especially during the summer months. But TOU rates are also deterring people from investing in solar because they slow the financial payback for customers who use power during peak times. The bill that created the solar program, SB 1, mandated that TOU rates be applied to all customers, including those who invest in solar. Now legislators are revisiting the bill to change language regarding TOU. “Last year’s legislation had an unintended flaw we are seeking to immediately fix so we can maximize Californians’ participation in the program,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. To expedite the passage of the legislation, the Governor has reached a conceptual agreement with a bipartisan group of legislators to quickly introduce a bill that fixes the problem. The Governor has also worked with utilities, environmental groups and other stakeholders to craft the agreement. The solution allows the CPUC to temporarily change the rate structure for solar systems installed since January 1, 2007. The legislation must be signed into law by June 6, 2007, to allow the CPUC to take action at its next regularly scheduled meeting.
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