US Climate Law Means California Can Cut Solar Perk, Group Says

Source: By Mark Chediak, Bloomberg • Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2022

The landmark climate legislation signed this week adds a potential wrinkle to a fight over a California incentive that made rooftop solar flourish in state.

Contractors install solar panels on a home in Hayward, California.

Contractors install solar panels on a home in Hayward, California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

A utility-backed coalition in California has a new argument to slash incentives for rooftop-solar systems in the Golden State: The renewable sector, it says, doesn’t need the subsidy to grow because of support in the new federal climate bill.

“With more generous federal subsidies flowing to the solar industry, it is now indefensible for renters and low-income Californians to continue to pay higher electricity bills simply to pad the projected profits of publicly traded rooftop-solar companies,” said Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman with Affordable Clean Energy for All, in a statement Thursday. The group also includes electrical labor unions, business and community groups.

An initial proposal by the California Public Utilities Commission would reduce rooftop incentives by as much as 80%—and required a new monthly fee for residents who install solar. The utilities generally back this proposal. Wood Mackenzie, a research firm, said that plan would have cut that market in half by 2024.

“In California—which drives the rooftop-solar market nationwide—all of that promise will be lost if the CPUC makes rooftop solar too expensive for regular consumers,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar & Storage Association, in an email Friday.