The much-publicized Million Solar Roofs legislation has yet to untangle itself from disputes over how costs?including net metering?are divvied up, labor issues, and resistance from public power agencies. If opponents manage to sink the far-reaching solar bill again this year, supporters say the California Public Utilities Commission could fill the void under its statutory procurement authority. However, a commission version of the Million Solar Roofs bill would be a watered-down measure to ensure that 3,000 MW of photovoltaic power become a reality. Only investor-owned utilities would be affected, and a CPUC measure would not include a net-metering mandate. SB 1 by Senators Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles) and John Campbell (R-Irvine) was subjected to a long-winded, voteless debate in the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee June 27. It is set for a July 6 vote in the utilities committee, unless the tug-of-war over the state budget takes precedent. Murray noted that the bill was given additional impetus by the surging price of oil early this week?$60 a barrel. He also recognized the pressing need for energy independence and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, an estimated $2.5 billion statewide ratepayer surcharge would be needed to subsidize the purchase of residential and commercial electricity-producing systems over the 13-year life of SB 1. With the constant rise of fossil-fuel prices, the impact of the cost of the subsidy shrinks in comparison with a future of polluting traditional power fuels. Included in the bill is language that makes non-electricity-producing distributed generation, such as solar thermal, ineligible for the incentive. One-tenth of the $2.5 billion photovoltaic buy-down would be set aside for solar installations on affordable housing. The Million Solar Roofs legislation requires munis to create solar set-asides?language that?s causing quite a stir in the public power agency community, but welcomed by private utilities. If the bill were to move forward in the Legislature without mandating that public power agencies create a solar fund, investor-owned utility customers would pay $1.8 billion through 2016, not $2.5 billion, according to Bernadette del Chiaro, Environment California?s clean-energy advocate. Some of the investor-owned utilities? wish lists made their way into the amended bill in whole or part, including a kilowatt-hour price cap and performance-based incentives. Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Sempra continue to push for residential net metering to include transmission and distribution charges. There should be ?no free ride on poles and wires charges,? said Edison director of public affairs Catherine Hackney. Del Chiaro countered that the utilities are always trying to jack up the price of net metering and ?refuse to quantify distributed generation?s net benefits.? Under the latest version of the bill, a price cap of 9\/10ths of a mill?or 0.09 cent\/kWh?was set. That is expected to amount to an average 54 cents a month per household?although the estimate varies considerably among the stakeholders. PG&E claimed in a June 29 letter to the chair of the Assembly utilities committee that ?the cost cap does not include all costs of the program.? Therefore, the bill provision requiring a review of cost effectiveness is ?meaningless.? Large energy consumers continue to object to being on the hook for the lion?s share of the surcharges. The California Energy Commission would develop performance-based standards for photovoltaic systems by a given date, which has yet to be set. The Utility Reform Network pushed to exclude low-income ratepayers but stopped short of insisting customers at 130 percent or lower of baseline be exempted (<i>Circuit<\/i>, April 29, 2005). TURN lobbyist Lenny Goldberg said his organization agreed to exempt low-income ratepayers covered by the CARE program instead. The organization was criticized for trying to include ratepayers who use small amounts of power but are not low-income. Controversy erupted over which licensing standards to use for solar installers. The large electrical workers? organizations are pushing for certification covering electricians who handle a wide array of electrical work, known as C-46. Electricians certified to install just PV systems under C-10, who now install about half the systems, are raising a stink because the C-46 standards would shut them out of the potential solar jackpot. Negotiations led by former Sacramento Assemblymember Darrell Steinberg are in the works. Another ongoing labor dispute is unions? insistence that prevailing wages be required for installations funded with a new subsidy, in accordance with the renewables portfolio standard. Del Chiaro estimates that would raise the price of the measure by 10 percent and cause Republican legislators to oppose the bill. The bill also sets only a 10-year system warranty. Other issues in flux include whether investor-owned utilities could tap into the surcharge and what costs will be included for net-metered customers, small and large.