California Set To Raise Solar Net Metering Cap

At the end of last week, the California State Assembly passed AB 510, a bill to raise the cap on net metering for solar photovoltaic systems. Having passed the Senate last week, the bill now only needs the Governor’s signature to become law.

Existing law requires California’s major electric utilities to make net metering available to customers on a first-come-first-served basis until the total program capacity exceeds 2.5 percent of the utility’s peak demand. AB 510 doubles the net metering program capacity to 5 percent, ensuring that Californians continue to have fair access to this critical solar program for the near term.

“California leads the nation in solar energy, accounting for more than 65 percent of the all the solar installed in the U.S. Net metering has been absolutely fundamental to that success. The passage of this bill means continued green job growth, further energy bill savings, progress in the fight against climate change, and a brighter future for California,” said Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) who authored the bill.

Through net metering, solar customers’ electricity meters to spin forward when they are using power from the utility grid, and reverse, spinning backward when customers are producing more energy than they are using. The customer is billed only for the net energy used. Today more than 50,000 California homes, schools and businesses take advantage of the state’s net metering program to lower their utility bills.

“Net metering makes solar more affordable for those who want to make the investment in clean energy. And because solar produces reliable power during peak hours when we all need it most, that same investment in solar helps lower costs for all ratepayers. Today, Assemblymember Skinner and the legislature took a bold step to make solar a significant part of our energy future,” said Adam Browning, executive director of the Vote Solar Initiative.

Net metering has no direct impact on the state’s general fund and allows government agencies and schools to have an incentive to install solar. California public agencies have already installed at least 51 megawatts (MW) of solar, saving taxpayers more than US $270 million in avoided utility payments.

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