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Hi [FIRST NAME] - In this Issue:

May, 2021

Volume: 12 Issue: 5

AB 1139 Slithers Forward

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! 

Vote NO! on AB 1139

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Meanwhile, SB 617 Dies

You know the old adage, "you win some, you lose some?" Well unfortunately this month we are definitely on a losing streak as last week SB 617 died a silent death.

There is another old adage about the two things you should never watch being made: sausage and legislation.  So it was when SB 617 - a bill that would have streamlined the permit processing of solar, and solar + storage systems, something that is desperately needed - never made it off the "Suspense File" and thus was killed, despite having passed by a vote of 12-2 in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee (the policy committee having jurisdiction over the bill).

Sadly, things took a different course when the bill went to the Senate Appropriations Committee - which sent it to the Suspense File - where all bill with a fiscal impact of more than $150,000 are held.  SB 617, along with every other bill on the Suspense File, was part of a hearing where no testimony was offerred, either by witnesses or even the bill's authoer, and there it died.  Why?  Who knows?   But it is worth noting that the same electrical unions who support AB 1139 - that is, the unions that build stuff for the utilities - also opposed SB 617.

So yeah, a really disappointing month in the "progressive" CA legislature.  But while we can live to fight another day for SB 617, the battle to defeat AB 1139 is an existential threat to the solar industry in California, and to the value of every installed solar system out there.  

Yet here's the thing: there are more of us than there are of them.  There are 150,000 people working in the solar industry in California.  There are more than 1,000,000 solar roofs in this state. Those are big enough numbers to make a difference, but only if you act!

So in case you missed it before, here's the link: Call your Assemblymember and tell them to Vote NO! on AB 1139 - do it NOW!

Thanks - watch this space! 

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