Sunset Clause to Dim Solar… in California?

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The California solar market faces a serious potential roadblock next week, warns Solar Nation.  The policy that allows us to roll our meter backwards when we generate more solar electricity than we use — Net Metering — is capped at 2.5 % of system peak load. Once we reach that limit, solar net metering sunsets out.

And we are now almost at that limit. If the Legislature does not extend net metering by June 30th, that solar roof you planned in a year or two might soon be unaffordable.

If you want to stop it, take action through Solar Nation: Don’t kill Net Metering!

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One of the key ways that solar is economical is through net metering. Because our utilities pay more for afternoon electrons, you can send electricity to the grid that sells for 40 cents in the afternoon, and use that generation as a credit towards the electricity you get back from the grid for 11 cents at night.

This lowering of utility bills is key to increasing home values. If a home saves $1,000 in a  year with solar then the value of the home goes up $20,000. This improvement is essential to getting mortgage financing for solar; so it’s all circular. Net metering down; savings down; bankers frown = energy brown.

This law also benefits everyone, not just would-be solar homeowners. Net metering saves all ratepayers money by reducing peak demand – which is just on hot summer afternoons when air conditioners are running. So, solar power is the obvious choice to meet this need. If enough of us install solar roofs to take care of that peak demand in the afternoons when air conditioners ramp up, California will be able to avoid building more power plants. AB 560 (Skinner) would allow net metering comprise 10% of the peak load.  California homeowners are willing to shoulder that much. But the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee thinks differently.

With their legislative activism, Solar Nation was largely responsible for getting the Federal 30% tax credit for homeowners successfully inserted into the bank bailout bill last fall, for solar electric, solar thermal, geothermal, wind, too. Even if Obama had not gotten elected, even if we had had another 8 years of Republican inaction, that 30% tax credit would still be lowering solar roof costs and paying back the nation in reducing dirty power demand.

Solar Nation has made it quick for you to add your vote: don’t sunset Net Metering at 2.5%!

Image via  Creative Greenius

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