SB 199 Goes to California Legislature

Legislators, industry officials and California’s Governor are working hard to get a solar homes bill before the state Legislature. Solar Homes Bill (SB) 1652, authored by State Senator Kevin Murray, was written as a vehicle to provide funds for the installation of solar electric systems on new homes built in California. The Senate and the California Housing Committee passed SB 1652, but the Assembly Appropriations Committee defeated the bill as it was written.

Sacaramento, California – August 23, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did not endorse the original bill, but has proposed some amendments to create SB 199. The draft of SB 199 has a list of changes that could help it pass through all of the legislative steps. Amendment overview: Added language: A mandate would begin in 2008, and require developers to offer solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on the construction of large developments. The California Energy Commission (CEC) would compile a report on financing options that could lower solar costs in the state and submit the report to the legislature. Education outreach about PV systems for builders would also become a CEC responsibility. Proceedings by the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to establish funding goals would begin on or before February 2005, and end by December 2007 to ensure adequate funding for the construction goal of 1 million solar homes by 2017. Amended language: SB 199 specifies how funding from the Emerging Renewable Resources Account is distributed. The CEC would establish the conditions that would make a system eligible for funds from the account, including system performance and energy efficiency of the home. Residential projects that could apply for and secure funding would have to have a 3 kW or less system installed, and all eligible projects would have to use PV. System rebates would top out at $2.80 per W, and annual rebates would decrease by 7 percent each year. An incentive for people adding PV onto zero energy homes is also included in the statute amendment. Funding relevant to SB 199 and collected from 2006 to 2012 would be immediately available for the rebate structure. The Emerging Renewable Resources Account would be renamed as the Solar Homes Peak Procurement account, and any increases in the Public Good Fund will get transferred to the peak procurement program with a baseline for funding established by the Public Utilities Commission based on 2004 figures. The net metering cap would be raised to 5 percent during peak load hours. Jan McFarland, who is the executive director for the California Solar Energy Industries Association, said she expects changes will be made to SB 199 over the next few days. McFarland said she is most concerned with establishing a vibrant solar market in California so the Governor’s programs would have support, and she would like to introduce amendments to the bill to ensure that market goal is met.

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