Once known as the Million Solar Roofs legislation, SB 1 by Senator Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles) awaited a vote on the Senate floor at press time after unanimous passage by the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee August 8. The bill sets parameters for the California Public Utilities Commission's solar program. Ongoing concerns about the $3.2 billion program's cost and effectiveness were debated during the committee hearing, but the committee could only approve or reject the bill that it had previously passed. The energy committee reheard SB 1 because it underwent significant changes while on the Assembly side. The rehearing required a Senate Rules Committee rule waiver, which passed August 7. "It is not a perfect bill, but to do nothing is a greater sin," said Senator Richard Alarc\u00f3n (D-Sun Valley). He called on lawmakers to closely monitor the program to ensure "tremendous benefits from this bill." The looming bill deadline at the end of August, as well as legislative rules, weighed in the measure's favor. Committee chair Martha Escutia (D-Los Angeles) said she was looking into amending SB 1 to ensure that the subsidies are more cost-effective via legislation by Senate president pro tem Don Perata (D-Oakland). SB 1 requires the California Public Utilities Commission to use performance-based standards for solar systems that receive rebates to help ensure that the state's goal of 3,000 MW of real sun power is achieved. It also removes $800 million in subsidies for public power agencies and exempts a narrower class of ratepayers from the CPUC's program surcharge. "The responsibility for achieving the state's solar vision now rests heavily on the shoulders of [Los Angeles] Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power to make sure Los Angeles builds their share of the million solar roofs goal," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Environment California lobbyist. Lenny Goldberg, The Utility Reform Network lobbyist, vigorously opposed the bill, asserting that it "takes a gratuitous slap at small customers." He objected to not exempting all customers whose power consumption is below 130 percent of baseline from the program's cost on grounds that small consumers subsidize large ratepayers' solar installations. Murray rejected Goldberg's assertions, noting that lawmakers amended the bill to ensure that low-income ratepayers were protected. Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) urged that the matter of rate design for low-income consumers be addressed in the remaining three weeks of this legislative session. Rates are tiered to encourage energy efficiency and conservation. Thus, the lower the energy use, the lower the per-kilowatt-hour cost. The recent heat wave, however, spurred many ratepayers to use more energy, pushing them into higher tiers and, thus, heftier utility bills. The bill was supported by Pacific Gas & Electric, Sempra, the California Municipal Utility Association, the Northern California Power Agency, Environment California, and solar power advocates. The bill also does the following: ? Expands net metering in investor-owned utility territory from 0.5 percent to 2.5 percent. The ability to send power back to the grid through these devices makes the program more cost-effective for those who install solar systems. ? Limits the CPUC's research and development costs for solar technology to $50 million, down from the current $150 million. ? Sets an $800 million investment goal for the munis in the state. Thus, if their total investment is less, the cost of the solar program drops. ? Gives the commission the discretion to set performance-based standards for small solar power systems. A mandatory standard was not imposed because of concerns that residential consumers would be reluctant to invest in the system if they were not given an up-front rebate. ? Provides up to $300 million for program marketing and administration, which includes evaluations and inspections. The goal of SB 1, according to Murray, is for buyers of new homes to "pick the tile, pick the carpet, bathroom fixtures, and solar system." Once the bill is approved by the full Senate, it will head to the governor's desk.