The solar industry is moving quickly and quite a few things have been happening that are changing the game in California alone. He is an update on some of the ongoing developments that are affecting San Diego County residents as well.
Permit Fees Capped in California:
California’s state legislature has just passed S.B.1222; which caps the city and county permit fees for residential & commercial solar systems. This is in line with the recent string of Californian cities such as Encinitas and Santa Monica who have waived permit fees for solar in order to encourage people to adopt solar energy.
The limit for residential systems are going to be set at $500, plus $15 per kW above 15kw. For commercial solar; there will be a $1000 limit, which includes $7 per kW for each kW between 51kW and 250kW, and $5 per kW for every kW above 250kW.
The bill is based on the ‘reasonable cost’ standard that is determined from the fair cost of providing the service. The U.S. Dept of Energy has stated that with module costs having fallen, that permit fees be reduced in order to balance the reasonable cost standard and speed up the embracement of solar power.
The bill now faces Governor Jerry Brown for approval. If made into law, the bill will be in effect until January 1st, 2018.
Community Solar in California on hold:
The controversial community solar bill S.B. 843 died in the Assembly Committee late last Friday night. It’s been reported that bill author State Sen. Lois Wolk brought the bill to the table in reduced form, on par with an agreement made with the committee Chairman. Amidst allegations of heavy lobbying from utility representatives; the bill fell short of the necessary votes to pass through the Committee.
S.B. 843 aimed to allow non-homeowners to collectively 'buy' solar from a specific facility. People would sign a contract with the project developers, pay a monthly fee for the energy they use and get a credit for their portion of the energy produced on their electric bill. With 44% of Californians renting, the bill aimed to give this demographic access to solar and generate an estimated 2 gigawatts of electricity.
Utility companies count the bill's failure as a victory; stating the bill was yet another bearer of fee increases for regular customers. Proponents of the bill disagreed; calling S.B. 843 a way for 44% of California residents to gain access to green energy and account for power produced from fossil fuels.
The Largest National Solar Industry Event is Taking Place Now:
The 2012 Solar Power International Convention is underway in Orlando, Florida. We've got a representative there and have been checking out what the convention has to offer, for a look at where solar energy is heading in the future.
Some of the panels and speakers include SunPower Corporation CEO Thomas Werner and Keynote Speaker President Bill Clinton who on Wednesday will discuss future growth with a highlight on the challenge of globalization and growing interdependence.