Bill Increasing Net Metering Cap to 10% Moves to Senate

By Published On: May 22, 2009

Legislation allowing more ratepayers who own small solar energy units to receive credits on their utility bill for spinning the electric meter backwards passed the Assembly Floor on a 47-22 vote at the end of last week. AB 560 by Assemblymember Nancy Skniner (D-Berkeley) increases the cap on net metering from 2.5 percent of a utility’s peak demand to 10 percent. It is aimed at Pacific Gas & Electric, which is expected to hit the 2.5 percent cap next year. The measure’s goal is to bolster the state’s Million Solar Roofs program, which seeks 3,000 MW of new subsidized solar energy. Allowing owners of solar power units no larger than 1 MW to get credit for power they feed into the grid helps offset the high costs of installing photovoltaic systems, according to Skinner. The state’s three major investor-owned utilities, as well as The Utility Reform Network, oppose the bill. They object to raising the net metering cap prior to reviewing an upcoming California Public Utilities Commission report assessing the effectiveness of the state’s solar program. In other news, the day before the special state election on budget deficit measures, legislation advanced that would reduce income to the state. The Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee May 18 passed two measures exempting renewable systems and energy efficient products from sales and use taxes. They include: -AB 1028 by Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield (D-Van Nuys), which would do away with state taxes on solar and other renewable products until July 2010. It passed 6-3, but was referred back to the Appropriations Committee. The fiscal loss to the state, according to the Board of Equalization, would be about $6.5 million a year. -AB 1304 by Assemblymember Lori Soldana (D-San Diego), which passed unanimously, would exempt 100 electric vehicles from sales and use tax. The fiscal impact is not yet known. Two alternative bills that sought to waive sales and use taxes for solar and energy efficiency products failed. They were AB 150 by Assemblymember Cameron Smyth (R-Santa Clarita), estimated to cost the state $8.46 million a year, according to the Board of Equalization, and AB 546 by Assemblymember Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), which was estimated to cost $7.5 million a year.

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