A weakened version of the governor?s Million Solar Roofs Initiative was released February 28. The revised measure, embodied in SB 1 by Senators Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles) and John Campbell (R-Irvine), no longer mandates that half of the new homes built in the state be equipped with photovoltaic rooftop systems. Instead, the legislation sets a goal of 3,000 MW of sun-driven power by 2018 from both residential and commercial buildings. It would require subdivision builders only to offer home buyers the ?option? of installing PV systems (<i>Circuit<\/i>, Oct. 22, 2004). About 15,000 homes are built each year in California, with many in the hot Central and Inland valleys. About 1 percent of new residences come with installed solar-powered systems. In spite of the measure?s revisions, solar proponents continued to sing its praises. ?This is the biggest piece of legislation ever introduced in the United States, and it makes sense because California is the Saudi Arabia of sunlight,? said David Hochshild, director of policy for the Vote Solar Initiative. The bill would create a decade-long ratepayer-funded subsidy for photovoltaic systems, which declines by no less than 7 percent a year. The expectation is that the large financial incentive will boost the solar industry and drive down the cost of PV installations. Doubling production of solar energy systems decreases the cost by about 20 percent, said Shirley Neff, president of the U.S. Association for Energy Economics. She also estimated the value of photovoltaic power produced during peak periods at between 20 cents and 25 cents\/kWh. The California Public Utilities Commission would be required to set up the rebate program by January 1, 2007?through either a new or an existing process. It would decide how much money would be needed for the initiative. (Last year?s proposal was estimated to cost about $100 million a year.) Subsidies would be doled out by the California Energy Commission and would likely be performance-based incentives instead of capacity payments. ?It is to make sure we get quality installations for our bucks,? said Bernadette del Chiaro, Environment California?s clean energy advocate. The CEC would be allowed to raise the subsidy for buildings that exceed efficiency standards and for ones categorized as ?zero energy? buildings. Under the new bill, utilities must allow a certain percentage of owners with installed PV to get credit for the power they feed into the grid. This net-metering requirement would be raised from the current limit of 0.5 percent of peak load to 5 percent. In addition to administering the program, the CEC would set program criteria and guidelines. That would include a mandate that eligible solar systems come with warranties of more than 10 years. The most recent version of the legislation would also require public power agencies to implement a solar roofs initiative that mirrors that of the state ?within a reasonable time? after the CPUC sets the program ground rules for the investor-owned utilities. It is expected that this provision will be fought tooth and nail by some of the municipal power agencies. The bill is expected to be heard by the Senate energy committee in April. <b>Green and Fossil Power Considered Day and Night<\/b> Hermann Scheer, a member of the German Parliament who was the mover and shaker behind the expansion of solar power via subsidies in his country, said solar is not too costly. During a March 1 press conference at the capital sponsored by California Environment, Scheer said dollar comparisons of traditional and alternative power markets should include ?the billions of dollars of subsidies? the former has received. He emphasized that moving toward wide dispersion of green power projects and away from centralized fossil-fueled and nuclear-powered plants will enhance national security and environmental quality. ?I strongly encourage California to make a similar commitment to solar power as Germany and Japan,? he said.