State Solar Update: FIT Regulatory Boost in California, Bills on the Docket in Arizona

The Solar Alliance and the Vote Solar Initiative announced support for four bills designed to advance solar energy in Arizona. The new legislation would allow Arizona’s schools, homes and businesses to take full advantage of the state’s strong solar potential.

“Thanks to the leadership of the Arizona Corporation Commission, Arizona has the fundamental policies in place to support a healthy and robust solar market. These bills are turbo-chargers: they reduce the cost of doing business, attract new customers, and help bring new jobs to the state,” said Adam Browning, executive director of the Vote Solar Initiative.

The four Arizona bills designed to foster in-state economic opportunity in the growing solar energy market include:
  • HB 2335: Would allow municipalities to set up voluntary, opt-in financing programs for solar and energy efficiency investments on home. This type of city-run financing program helps property owners overcome solar’s upfront cost by spreading the system price over an affordable 20-year property tax assessment.
  • HB 2332: Would let schools implement solar and energy efficiency improvements by removing the upfront cost which would be paid back through monthly savings on the school’s utility bills.
  • HB 2329: Would cap permit fees for solar at US $375.
  • SB 1403: Degisned to give incentives to attract solar manufacturing companies to Arizona.

In California, the CPUC took another step toward a state level feed-in tariff. Key elements of a new set of rules created by the CPUC raises project size that will qualify for any tariff from 1.5 MW to 10 MW, and adds another 1000 MW (in addition to the 500 MW for the under 1.5 MW program).

The program would be limited to a 1,000 MW overall cap, allocated across the three utilities according to the share of coincident peak demand. Projects meeting the tariff requirements would be permitted to sign a standard form contract, which would not require CPUC approval.

“After a 8 month process, the Energy Division of the CPUC issued a proposed decision for its inquiry to expand the state’s feed-in tariff program,” Browning said. “We will have some comments and recommendations in reply to the proposal, but the program’s general approach treats solar as if it
were a resource that can be the foundation for California’s renewable energy future: it integrates solar into the long term renewable planning process, and looks to provide a framework that provides
security for solar project developers, utility planners, and regulators.”

Browning noted however that the decision by the CPUC does not address price, which is likely to be the next step. Rulemaking should take place in the next few months.

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