CPUC approves utility-backed community solar decision

Cpuc Approves Utility Backed Community Solar Decision

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The California Public Utilities Commission voted to approve a revised proposed decision on the state’s community solar program on May 30 that solar advocates warned would not correct course for a failing sector. The approved decision was supported by the state’s major investor-owned utilities.

The CPUC rejected a different proposal by a coalition including the solar industry, ratepayer advocacy groups and labor unions to begin a new program based on a Net Value Billing Tariff, which would have compensated community solar subscribers based on the value of a project’s generation at the time it’s provided to the grid. The commission instead approved a decision that makes only minor changes to existing community solar programs, which have failed to develop substantial renewable energy capacity, rather than reimagining a new program, according to Environment America.

Derek Chernow, Western Regional Director for the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), issued the following response to the CPUC’s vote on the future of the state’s community solar program:

“Today’s Commission vote ignored the will of the California Legislature and the broad coalition of ratepayer, equity, environmental, labor, agricultural, and business groups who have demanded a functional community solar program for more than a decade.

“By accepting the utilities’ proposal, the Commission has chosen to double down on failed programs that have not — and will not — establish a viable community solar market that would provide affordable energy to Californians that need relief the most.

“It’s also further evidence that California’s utilities are doing everything they can to stifle distributed energy generation in order to tighten their grip on the state’s electricity grid.

“The vote solidifies California’s place near the bottom of community solar markets nationwide, ceding leadership to other states to truly democratize solar energy and fulfill national energy equity goals.

“Importantly, this vote was not unanimous. We would like to thank Commissioner Darcie Houck for her vote and remarks for how this Decision will fail to reach community solar’s full potential.

“Undeterred, we will continue our efforts to create a community solar program that puts people above utilities… and one California can be proud of.”

Aaron Halimi, founder and president of developer Renewable Properties, issued the following press statement:

“As a community solar developer based in California and operating across 15 states, it’s clear that the California Public Utilities Commission’s final decision will not make California a leader in community solar.”

“With this misguided decision, it is highly improbable that the industry will invest in building community solar and energy storage projects in California. The CPUC’s decision primarily benefits the financial interests of utilities and does not support the State’s climate goals or the aim of reducing electric bills for low-income Californians, which was the purpose of AB 2316.”

Stephanie Doyle, California State Affairs Director for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), issued the following press statement:

“Today, the CPUC is doing the bidding of monopoly utilities to block a functional community solar program in California. This decision effectively shuts out the vast majority of low-income Californians, renters and others that can’t install solar directly on their homes from participating in the clean energy economy.

“Today’s vote ignores calls from the solar industry, environmental justice organizations, consumer advocates, and labor groups to create a workable program. It also puts into question the status of federal Solar for All funding, which is solely dedicated to expanding solar accessibility. This is a shocking decision from a Commission that is charged with protecting ratepayers and keeping electricity bills affordable.

“The CPUC’s recent series of decisions threatens to unravel California’s clean energy progress. It’s past time for Governor Newsom and state leaders to reign in the commission before it inflicts more damage on customers and the state’s clean energy economy.”

Updated on 5/31


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