Monday, June 29, 2009

AB 560--Net Metering Cap--hearing rescheduled for Thursday

Rosalind Jackson at Vote Solar in San Francisco tells Etopia News that the hearing scheduled for 9:00 am PDT tomorrow in Room 2040 of the California State Capitol to consider AB 560, a bill by Berkeley Assemblymember Nancy Skinner to raise the net-metering cap from 2.5% to 10%, has been postponed until Thursday, July 2nd. The change in schedule was just confirmed by the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee, which says the meeting will be held at the same time and place on the 2nd of July.

PG&E, one of California's three big investor-owned utilities (IOUs), is rapidly approaching the 2.5% level of net-metering, a system under which utility customers are able to reduce their energy bills by feeding green electricity generated on their premises back into the electrical grid from which they otherwise receive it. PG&E opposes AB 560.

Net-metering differs from "feed-in tariffs" (FITs) in that FITs require utilities to pay for all the electricity they receive from user-producers, while net-metering involves driving the electric meter backwards, up to the point where the customer has a zero bill, after which time any additional electricity provided by the customer to the utility is being given for free to the power company.

Statewide net-metering exists on account of provisions of the California Solar Initiative, SB1. As generally understood, that law stipulates that when a utility derives 2.5% of its sold power from net-metering, the net-metering provision will expire and the utility will no longer be required to offer the program to its customers. Accordingly, unless the net-metering limit is raised from its current level, the success of this program will mean its imminent demise, which some observers believe would deal a crushing blow to California's solar industry.

Accordingly, Assemblymember Skinner has authored AB560, which would raise the net-metering program cap to 10%, in order to maintain the existence of the program and the health of the state's solar industry.

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