CEC to Vet Solar Here or There

By Published On: January 15, 2010

The California Energy Commission January 13 unanimously voted to approve a rulemaking to develop and adopt new regulations for a solar offset program. The move opens up a formal proceeding where interested parties may vet their positions under regulatory review. Under Senate Bill 1, the Million Solar Roofs law, the commission is required to allow home developers and sellers to forego the requirement of offering solar energy systems as an option on some projects by offsetting the amount of solar electricity on other projects. Also during the meeting, the commission approved issuing a $2 million loan to Chula Vista to upgrade street lighting. The South San Diego County city plans to convert 4,600 street light fixtures from high pressure sodium lamps to induction lamps. The change is expected to save the city about $200,000 annually and result in the reduction of the equivalent of about 859,000 tons of greenhouse gases, Energy Commission energy specialist Karen Perrin said. The loan, which has a simple payback of a little over 10 years, comes from the commission’s federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Additionally during the January 13 meeting, the commission approved a $2.5 million loan to Yolo County to go toward the installation of an 835 kW air conditioning photovoltaic tracking system. This project is projected to result in an annual $236,250 savings in reduced energy costs for the county, said commission electrical engineer Adel Suleiman. Under the agreement, the loan has a simple payback of about 10.5 years. The money for it comes from the commission’s Energy Conservation Assistance Account program. The commission also signed off on a $1.75 million contract with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop methods for retrofitting low-income apartments and to quantify the energy and indoor environmental quality benefits. Funding for the contract will come from the Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program. The vote to approve was 3-0, with commissioner Art Rosenfeld abstaining. Rosenfeld did not explain why he did not vote. Later, a staffer said it was because Rosenfeld, whose tenure on the commission ended this week, would be working with the lab in the future. The first 30 minutes of the meeting were devoted to saying farewell to Rosenfeld, who sat in on his last meeting after 10 years on the commission. “As an energy commissioner, he has brought unparalleled expertise to the commission while working with policymakers at all levels of government to develop a more coherent policy on efficiency and guarantee a more reliable electricity future for California,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rosenfeld was also praised by his fellow commissioners. Jim Boyd called him “the godfather of energy efficiency,” adding he had “incredible arm-twisting power.” Rosenfeld said that although his term on the commission has expired, he had no intention of fading off into the sunset. He said he would remain active and involved in energy issues.

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