Last month, we wrote to you about two bills - one from Glenda the Good, aka SB 617 - and the other from the Wicked Witch of the West, AB 1139. Well we are really in "over the rainbow" land here, and our update on both is truly depressing. Let's start with AB 1139.
When last we visited it, AB 1139 was cruising through Assembly Committees, thanks in part to it's powerful author, Lorena Gonzalez, a Democrat who should know better, but doesn't, and who happens to be the Chair of the Appropriations Committee, i.e., someone most folks in the Assembly do not want to cross.
While the bill has been amended, those amendments do nothing to cure the incalculable damage this misguided legislation would do to the solar industry - and to the value of solar installations already on over one million rooftops in the state of California. Among other effects, AB 1139 would:
- Eliminate grandfathering protections for:
- All leased systems or those operating under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA);
- All small commercial systems without demand charges, like those operating under SCE's GS-1 rate;
- And two-thirds of California's 2,000 solar-powered schools.
- Lower the payment to solar system owners for energy exported to the grid.
- Introduce monthly charges based on the size of the solar system - which in some cases could exceed the monthly savings from having solar installed!
- Removes the language from existing state law that requires any net energy metering tariff to "ensure that renewable distributed generation [i.e., rooftop solar] continues to grow sustainably."
While the author disingenuously claims that this bill is about "equity," it does nothing to make solar more affordable to lower-income households. Indeed, language that was originally in the bill to provide funding to help low-income Californians afford to add solar, was stripped out of the bill!
Let's be clear: this bill is nothing but a utility profit grab, pure and simple.
Utilities make money when they build stuff: power plants, transmission lines, distribution networks - and rooftop solar is a threat to that build-based profit. (Gee, maybe pass a law that pays utilities to maintain their existing infrastructure so it doesn't set communities on fire or fail in the midst of an all-to-predictable heat wave! What a concept.)
AB 1139 is headed for a floor vote as soon as tomorrow, June 1, so it is imperative that you call your state Assemblmember today, right now, and tell them to vote NO!
Fortunately, our colleagues at CALSSA have made this super simple: just click on this link to tell your Assemblymember to Vote NO on AB 1139!