If you have not already installed solar panels on your Santa Ana home the clock is ticking. On Friday, April 14, after 11:59 p.m., most Californians who want to put panels on their roofs will have to deal with state solar energy incentives that will be MUCH lower, according to the L.A. Times.
California is offering a new incentive program known as net billing, which will result in lower savings on monthly electricity bills. If you voted to reelect Governor Gavin Newsom enjoy the results as he smacks down new solar energy users!
Why is the state doing this? The state’s thinking is that utilities such as Southern California Edison don’t get as much money from homes with solar, forcing them to charge more to lower-income customers who can’t afford solar. That seems like an exaggeration but now we will all be paying the price.
EnergySage recently surveyed 35 installers and nearly three-quarters of them felt that the new incentive program would significantly harm California’s solar industry, with 90% expecting some amount of harm.
Gov. Newsom’s appointees on the state’s Public Utilities Commission have said tjat one of their goals in lowering incentive payments for standalone solar systems was to encourage homes and businesses to add solar energy storage batteries, which can cost from $10K to $15K.
Newsom’s actions have resulted in twenty percent of the state’s solar companies planning to slow hiring. Nearly 60% of the installers reported that they now have less confidence in the industry’s future in the state versus a year ago.
The good news is that California’s newly reduced solar payments won’t affect homes that already have rooftop systems in place, or customers of government-run electric utilities such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. However the majority of Californians are served by the big investor-owned utilities regulated by the utilities commission: Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric.
As you might imagine the number of Californians buying solar through its digital marketplace has increased by more than 500% this quarter, as homes and businesses hurry to qualify for the old, more generous incentive program before it disappears.
Keep in mind if you are considering installing solar panels before the April deadline that before a home or business can power up its solar panels and connect to the grid, it must file an “interconnection request” with its electric utility. For many Californians, getting those requests approved has been slow as utilities dea; with the large increase in applications. Edison has in fact told customers it may take up to 20 business days to review their requests.
Homes and businesses have until April 14 to submit their paperwork — but what if Edison or PG&E issues a rejection on April 15? Or on April 12, leaving too little time for the solar installer to correct and resubmit the request? Will those customers be screwed?
The good news is that some advocacy groups are fighting back against Newsom and his state bureaucracy as the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Working Group and Protect Our Communities Foundation all filed a formal appeal asking the Public Utilities Commission to reconsider its awful December decision.
The groups argued that commission officials hadn’t complied with the 2013 law requiring them to reevaluate net metering, in part because they’d failed to take into account all the benefits of rooftop solar — such as protecting homes from blackouts and utility power shutoffs, slashing air pollution from fossil fueled power plants in low-income communities, reducing the need for expensive long-distance transmission lines and potentially limiting the environmental damage from large solar farms.
Predictably the Public Utilities Commission hasn’t yet responded to the appeal.
It may already be too late for you to get on the solar energy bandwagon… Remember this if Newsom ends up running for President down the road.
Here is a good website if you want to learn more about California’s solar power incentives. You can also click here to get competing solar quotes.