Bill AB 510 was passed recently by the state Senate, and 5 the 53-to-1 vote in the Assembly allows the provision to be signed into law by governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as early as this week.
Existing state law requires electric utilities to make net metering for solar and wind energy available to customers on a first-come, first-served basis until the total capacity of the programme exceeds 2.5% of peak demand.
AB 510 will double the cap on solar and wind net metering capacity to 5%.
“California leads the nation in solar energy, accounting for more than 65% of the all the solar installed in the USA,” says the Bill’s author Nancy Skinner, a Democrat. “Net metering has been absolutely fundamental to that success. The passage of this bill means continued green job growth, further energy bill savings, progress in the fight against climate change, and a brighter future for California.”
The Solar Alliance and the Vote Solar Initiative say the bill will ensure that participants in the California Solar Initiative will continue to have access to net metering benefits. More than 50,000 consumers are involved in the net metering programme.
Consumer advocates claim the bill is flawed because none of the solar and wind power sold to the utilities will count toward the mandate for utilities to source 33% of their power from renewable energy by 2030. If utilities claim credit for the renewable electricity they purchase from customers, they will be required to pay a surcharge.
“The Legislature finds and declares that a programme to provide net energy metering combined with net surplus compensation, co-energy metering, and wind energy co-metering for eligible customer-generators is one way to encourage substantial private investment in renewable energy resources, stimulate in-state economic growth, reduce demand for electricity during peak consumption periods, help stabilise California's energy supply infrastructure, enhance the continued diversification of California's energy resource mix, reduce interconnection and administrative costs for electricity suppliers, and encourage conservation and efficiency,” the bill explains.