You may remember the controversial and rude statement from California’s Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (District 80) from last year regarding Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, which specializes in both electric vehicles and home energy solutions that include rooftop solar. Recently, Gonzalez not only backed but amended AB 1139, which could bring the state’s rooftop solar and storage market to a halt.
The bill, nicknamed the “Anti-Solar Bill,” would kill the net energy metering policy that has allowed rooftop solar to grow sustainably while becoming increasingly available to low-and-moderate income consumers. It would make it hard for families to go solar by making it more expensive, and this includes those on the discounted California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program.
The bill also disregarded studies that showed solar is a net benefit to all ratepayers.
Here’s a list of what AB 1139 would do (provided by the California Solar and Storage Association):
Make going solar more expensive for every ratepayer, including non-residential consumers like schools and farms and including those on CARE rates or living in multi-family affordable housing.
Eliminate 20-year grandfathering for 1.0 and 2.0 customers, including schools and farms,
Introduce new “grid access” monthly charge that will add $50–$86/month for the typical residential solar use. Charge would be more for larger, non-residential systems.
The bill hurts low-income and at-risk communities the most and does nothing to create equity or diversity in the market, quite the opposite. It moves California backward.
The article also pointed out that the Utilities and Energy Committee has amended the bill and these amendments will make the bill even worse than what it already was. Here are some of those amendments:
Deleting statutory language from 2013 ensuring “sustainable growth” of rooftop solar via NEM.
Cause energy bills to increase for renters living in solarized buildings.
Set retroactive changes for current solar customers, including low-income, schools, and farms. 5 years from the date of service for non-CARE (including non-residential) and 10 years for CARE. It is important to note that for most CARE customers, a solar system takes on average 10 years to pay for itself. To un-grandfather these systems in year ten is to erase all hope of actually saving money from going solar.
Adds high mandatory monthly fees applied only to solar users, including low-income.
Adds prevailing wage for all solar installs. (This is a Trojan Horse as the bill would undermine the entire job market.)
Eliminates the one good thing that was previously in AB 1139: funds for low-income and at-risk communities to go solar.
Would instate a so-called “no cost shift” NEM 3 unless the PUC adopts a NEM 3 by Feb 1, 2022.
How You Can Help
The Solar Rights Alliance has created an online petition where residents can tell their legislators to stop the utility profit grab.