Categories: "Solar Economics"

05/24/22

  08:10:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 1005 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar, Ranting, Non-profit solar, Net Metering

Rally to Kill the Solar Tax!

tl;dr - Come Rally with us on June 2, at 10:30 a.m. in Grand Park, DTLA!

As readers of this blog know only too well, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had proposed - at the urging of the investor-owned utilities (IOUs), that is SCE, PG&E, and SDG&E - a new set of rules for how solar system owners would be compensated for the energy they put back onto the grid.  In a nutshell, that proposal would have pushed the payback period for solar systems to twenty years or more!  In an epic bit of organizing, our trade association - the California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA) - kicked up a ruckus that was clearly heard in Sacramento, by getting folks to sign petitions, issue public comments, testify to the CPUC for six hours straight, and two very loud, very colorful rallies in San Francisco and here in LA.  (If you missed that, you can read about the LA rally here.)

Thanks to those efforts, the original proposal was pulled back.  But that didn’t win the fight, as the CPUC is still talking about a Solar Tax that would destroy the value of rooftop solar for most Californians.

That’s why it’s time to lace up your protest shoes and attend the…

Rally to kill the solar tax

We need to more than double our impressive turnout from the last two rallies.  That means we need you!  And your kids.  And your friends.  And your kids friends - get the picture?

In case you need more detail - really, this is only about saving rooftop solar in California, so I wouldn’t think too many more details would be required but - let CALSSA’s Executive Director, Bernadette Del Chiaro, give you the Word:

On May 9, the CPUC took an unprecedented step of effectively issuing a new decision in the form of 14 questions. Those questions broke five months of silence, pulled back the curtain, and revealed what the CPUC is still thinking: tax solar and send the value of exports over a cliff. The CPUC has essentially floated a trial balloon to see how much push back they will get for proposing a solar tax (by a different name) and repackaging the solar cliff to make it sound nicer (ACC “plus”). Our job is to push back. Hard. Loud. Once and for all: No solar tax. No solar cliff. Not in California. Not now.

We need thousands of you. RSVP here.

Why June 2? For starters, because silence is acquiesce. Think about it. The State of California just floated a proposal to tax the behind-the-meter use of solar energy, again. Every day that goes by in which people aren’t reacting appropriately (i.e., freaking out), is a day in which the message back to our government is one of acceptance. That is certainly not our reality. If we could have, we would have rallied on May 10!
 
Another reason to rally on June 2 is because the CPUC has literally asked for our reaction to their “new” ideas: tax behind-the-meter solar consumption to the tune of $600 per year for the average customer (NOTE: the tax is not limited to the residential market – commercial market you could be caught up in this tragedy, too) and tie export values for everyone to the Avoided Cost Calculator which they have refused to adjust for the rising costs of natural gas, the crisis in the utility-scale market, and the demands of electrification. The CPUC has asked for our reaction by June 10. June 2 is simply the closest date to June 10 at which the CPUC is holding a meeting. The next meeting of the Commission is June 24 which would be too late.
 
Finally, there is never a good time to leave the office and come down off the roof. Collectively, we build more than 400 solar systems a day in California. That’s a lot of activity. And, with all the disruptions to supply chains along with the increased urgency due to this very campaign (ironically driving more people to solar than if they had promised to make gentle and gradual changes from the get-go), our days are busier and more complicated than ever. I get it. But what’s far more inconvenient and costly than shutting down your office for one day is closing your business or laying off half your staff in 2023 because the CPUC got NEM 3.0 horribly wrong. A stitch in time saves nine. Let’s save our market. RSPV now.
 
Finally, you might also be wondering why we should rally. Aren’t there other ways to make our voices heard? Of course the answer to that is, yes, there are many ways to make our voices heard. We are and should continue to speak out through petitions, letters to the governor, testimony that is being written by Brad now (to be submitted June 10), through media (like this question to Governor Newsom by Politico reporter last week), social media, and so much more. But to really be heard, we need to generate media attention too. We need to get on the nightly news and on the pages of the newspapers. Because when we do that, millions of voters hear our cry and we already know those millions are with us on the issue. 
 
It comes down to you reading this message and deciding to join the fray, the fun, the action. So, please join us in either Los Angeles or San Francisco on June 2. It will be worth your time. It will be fun. You’ll be glad you did it.
 
As always, email me with questions or comments.

p.s. Many people like to theorize about the likelihood of a Democratic governor in a pro-environment state harming the darling of the clean energy economy: solar. Putting aside the lack of understanding of how politics really works up here in Sacramento (hint: follow the money toward the path of least resistance), my ask to you is this: don’t leave this critical decision to political theory. Your active involvement in this campaign – most importantly joining us June 2 – will help make sure we win in reality, not just in theory. Let’s not leave anything this important to chance. Join us. 

This is up to us.  This is our fight.  Get in the game, people!  See you on June 2nd!

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10/30/21

  03:11:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 588 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, Residential Solar, Net Metering

NEM 3.0 Transition Rules - Potential Solar Clients Need to Read This!

New solar clients in Southern California Edison territory (along with their counterparts in PG&E or SDG&E territories) will soon find themselves operating under the not yet known, but certainly less advantageous NEM 3.0 rules that has the potential to significantly affect their return on investment.  While NEM 3.0 won’t go into effect for some time, we already have an idea of what clients need to do to secure the benefits of the present NEM rules.  Here’s what we know so far…

NEM 2.0 - the Present State of Play

SCE customer presently operate under NEM 2.0 rules established a number of years ago.  (Municipal utility customers, such as those in PWP or LADWP, are unaffected by any of this, fortunately.)  We wrote extensively about the impact of the NEM 2.0 transition at the time, as this article from 2017 explained: NEM 2.0 is Here - Now What? 

Essentially the NEM 2.0 rules made several changes: they introduced a one-time application fee of $75, they forced solar customers onto a Time-of-Use rate structure (instead of the more solar-friendly tiered rates), and they introduced the concept of non-bypassable charges - components of the rate structure that have to be paid on every kWh imported from the grid, even if it would otherwise be “netted out” thanks to energy exported.

Those changes, while concerning as they marked the first successful effort to chip away at the benefits of net metering, turned out to be relatively mild and the industry surged forward despite them.

NEM 3.0 - Dark Days Ahead?

Now we are in the middle of the process of bringing about NEM 3.0, and it looks far scarier than what we faced in 2017.  For example, one proposal calls for monthly fees on the order of $75 for every residential solar customer (commercial customers would pay far more).  The value of exported energy might drop by as much as 80%!  Payback periods could balloon to as much as 20 years!

(Take a moment to sign the petition to make the new NEM 3.0 rules more favorable to solar system owners!)

However that process turns out, if it is possible to get in under the current rules you will save a lot of money!  Here’s what we know about how the transition period will be handled:

  • If you sign a contract and submit your complete interconnection application to SCE by mid-January you are guaranteed of 20 years under the more favorable NEM 2.0 rules!

  • If you submit between mid-January and April, you will start under NEM 2.0, but the 20-year term is not guaranteed.

  • If you submit after April but before NEM 3.0 is fully up and running, you will start on NEM 2.0 for a set term of years, but you may be forced onto a rate that includes a monthly fee.

  • Applications submitted after August, will likely be completely under NEM 3.0

The uncertainty around all of this is distressing but is out of our hands.

What we can do is to urge folks on the fence about going solar to act before mid-January.  Bear in mind that the project does not need to be completed by mid-January, you simply have to have your completed application submitted by then.  We anticipate quite the rush to get applications in by then, and there is always the concern that a reviewer at SCE might kick back an application and deem it incomplete.  The best way to be safe is to get the application in as soon as possible, thereby avoiding the crunch.

So right now really is the best time for anyone in SCE’s service area to go solar!  Give us a call and let’s get the process started!

 

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05/26/21

  04:43:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 173 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, SCE, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar, Ranting, Non-profit solar, SDG&E

Stop AB1139!

We have written about the perils of AB 1139 and how it would gut net energy metering for all solar owners, regardless of “grandfathering” that they were promised.  Having sailed through two Assembly committees unscathed, it is scheduled for a floor vote in the Assembly tomorrow, Thursday, May 27th. 

We need you to call your Assemblymember NOW to get them to vote No on this terrible bill.

Here is the News Flash that we just sent out to our subscribers:

 AB 1139 Heads to Floor Vote
Take Action Today

AB 1139, the Utility Profit Grab bill to kill rooftop solar and hurt your solar investment heads to an Assembly Floor vote expected TOMORROW. Call your assemblymember to stop the bill right now! Click here to take action.
 

We need to flood the assembly with thousands of phone calls. Phone calls work! So, Please call now. It takes 2 minutes.

When you click the link below, we will help you determine your Assemblymember and set up the call for you - it couldn’t be easier.

 
Call your Assemblymember Now
 

Thank you for your support!

12/28/20

  02:04:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 605 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Tax Incentives, Residential Solar

Happy New Year - the Solar & Storage Tax Credit is Extended!

Ok, so of course it took some last minute drama - this is 2020 after all - but the extension to the federal tax credit for solar and storage has been signed into law!  Read on to see what that means for you!

State of the Law Going into Deliberations

New project for the New Year!

This new project will get the full 26% tax credit next year!

As readers of this blog would surely know, the federal tax credit that had been set at 30% for several years, dropped down to 26% in 2020 (just the first of many not-so-desirable outcomes for a year that would see so many!), and was scheduled to decline to 22% for 2021, before expiring completely in January of 2022 for residential solar projects. 

We have written before that the solar tax credit was quite popular on both sides of the aisle, so there was always some hope that the current credit rates might be extended, but that was by no means a sure thing.  Fingers crossed and all that!

A Bill is Born!

As the negotiations between the Trump Administration and Congressional leaders progressed to try and provide economic stimulus at a time when many are out of work, too many facing potential evictions, and state and local governments facing severe challenges, word came out from CALSSA that the extension of the tax credit was in the draft bill!  Then on December 21st we learned that the extension was in the final bill that was being sent to the President!  (For those who are true gluttons for punishment, here’s a link to the Bill, and the language for the residential extension is on page 4,915!  Crazy, right?)

Excited by this most welcome development at the end of a dark year - and just in time for Christmas! - I was ready to write this blog.  But hey, this is still 2020, so I resolved to keep my powder dry until the Bill had actually been signed!

Drama

Seems my hesitation was warranted, as the President declared the Bill - negotiated by his Administration - a “disgrace” and threatened to veto it!  Instead insisting that the relief payments be substantially increased (something his own party rejected) and the “pork” in the bill be removed.  (News coverage of the President’s displeasure focused on exemptions for “three-martini lunches” (who is doing that these days?) or depreciation schedules for race horses!  The solar tax credit did not seem to be part of the pork in question.)  Of course, one man’s pork is another man’s livelihood, and besides, you cannot really take an agreement that took literally months to hammer together and then redo it in days.  Didn’t the President ever see, “I’m Just a Bill?”

All’s Well that End’s Well

So after much Sturm und Drang, on Sunday the Bill became a Law!  Which means we can tell you exactly how things will progress going forward on the tax credit front:

The 26% credit will now continue for projects “placed in service” between now and the end of 2022.  The 22% credit will apply to projects placed in service between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023.  Projects that go into service after January 1, 2024 will receive no credit under this new law.

Given the stimulus value of solar and storage projects - to say nothing of their environmental benefits - this is a most welcome development.  And for projects that got delayed due to the pandemic, the full 26% credit will still be available next year - a relief to many homeowners and solar installers who have been up against the clock.

In the end, the process was messier than it needed to be, but the job got done.  Here’s hoping that 2021 and 2022 can be real boom years for the solar industry, and the broader economy as well!

07/22/20

  02:36:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 407 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Tax Incentives

How do you spell Relief: S O L A R!

United States Capitol buildingAs Congress tries to come to consensus on another stimulus package, we are focused on something that could help rebuild the economy in a greener way.  Here’s our take, and a call to action!

Congress is now back in session, and task number one is to come up with a new round of stimulus spending to try and get the economy moving again, amidst the chaos of the worst pandemic in a century.  This is a big crisis, and it calls for big and bold solutions.

Our friends over at Solar Rights Alliance are good at thinking up big ideas, and they are johnny-on-the-spot now.  Here are a couple of key concepts that should be included in the next stimulus bill:

  • Extend the federal solar tax credit - presently the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is set to step down from 26% to 22% at the end of this year, and expire altogether after 2022.  The ITC should be extended at the prior 30% rate through 2025.  This is vitally important as utility-sponsored rebates have disappeared in many areas, leaving the ITC as the primary economic incentive.

  • Turn the ITC into a direct cash payment for at least the next twelve months.  While tax credits are great, if you aren’t working, you can’t use a tax credit.  Direct cash payments upon completion of the project would help close the liquidity gap that would otherwise keep projects from going forward.

These two simple steps would help restart the solar industry, resulting in thousands of good paying, can’t-be-outsourced jobs for workers across this country.  Moreover, home and business owners would lower their energy costs, leaving them with more money in their pocket to spend in their communities.  And on top of all that, we would be helping to green the grid, lowering greenhouse gas emissions - a necessary step in the battle to reverse climate change.

Sounds pretty good, right?  Damn straight!  But in this time of crisis, silent approval isn’t enough - action is required!

Fortunately we can make that action really easy.  Just click on that big, Take Action! button below and you will be redirected to a website where you can send an email to your U.S. Senators and Representative, urging them to take action to grow solar and jobs in the next stimulus.  It takes all of one minute to do it, but the benefit could be felt for years.  So what are you waiting for?  Mash that button now!

 TAKE ACTION!

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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