Tag Archives: Solar Policies

Will solar energy shine on poor communities?

By Morgan Lee, The San Diego Union-Tribune

A billion-dollar effort to bring more rooftop solar to multi-family housing projects in poor communities is among a raft of clean-energy remedies approved late last week by California lawmakers, and now awaiting the governor’s signature.

Tucked into several approved bills are provisions designed to address the relatively slow spread of rooftop solar within low-income communities and at multi-family housing complexes. For those solar projects, financial arrangements and risks are typically more complex than the single-family homeowner market, and the payoff from solar energy has not always trickled down to the electricity bills for individual tenants.

Assembly Bill 693 would devote up to $100 million a year to expanding rooftop solar at deed-restricted affordable housing complexes. Those dwellings are reserved for people living on less than 60 percent of the local area median income. Exact details of the AB 693 program still need to be written by the California Public Utilities Commission, and might not move forward until 2017. The new solar program eventually could reach an estimated 200,000 low-income households if successful, offsetting individual utility bills in the process by 30 percent to 50 percent.

Read full article in the San Diego Union-Tribune

Required Reading on San Diego’s Solar Surge

By Lisa Halverstadt, Voice of San Diego

San Diego is considered a national solar hotspot. This spring, the nonprofit Environment California Research & Policy Center dubbed San Diego the No. 2 solar city in the U.S. in a national survey. That same report noted San Diego’s solar growth outpaced Los Angeles, the nation’s top solar mecca.

Yet the region and the rest of the nation are approaching a crossroads. Some solar policies and incentives are nearing near expiration, and utilities such San Diego Gas & Electric are looking to up charges for solar customers as the technology becomes more widespread.

San Diego’s Solar Status

  • Power grid: SDG&E believes that solar could create challenges for San Diego’s grid when it reaches 15 percent penetration and are working on potential solutions. As of last month, about 4 percent of SDG&E customers were solar customers.
  • Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS): SDG&E forecasts that it will meet the state’s RPS mandate of 33 percent renewable electricity well ahead of the 2020 deadline and derived 30 percent of annual retail sales from renewables in 2014. The utility says the amount of renewable energy in its resource portfolio has since risen to 32 percent, and it could meet the 33% RPS target sometime this year (figures do not include rooftop solar).
  • Rate restructuring: SDG&E wants to change its current rate structure and its proposed tweaks have frustrated some big solar customers. Five San Diego County school districts filed protests to SDG&E’s suggested peak pricing period, which the utility wants to shift from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. They argue the change would mean their solar investments don’t pencil out as planned, leaving less money to spend on students.
  • Local investment in solar: Local governments are ramping up their solar commitments as well. In March, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved updates to the county’s building code that require new homes in unincorporated areas of the county to be built solar panel-ready. The city of San Diego is also working on a Climate Action Plan that encourages more solar investment, namely with its goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.

Read full article from Voice of San Diego