Bipartisan Solar Bill of Rights publicly introduced in California

California state senators formally introduced a Solar Bill of Rights on Tuesday. The bill aims to defend the rights of home and business owners who wish to generate and store their own electricity.

Sen. Scott Wiener (D) and Sen. Jim Nielsen (R) were joined by solar advocates, homeowners, and business owners to officially announce SB-288. The bill was first introduced in the California State Legislature on Feb. 13.

The bill calls for a streamlined, standardized process for customers looking to install solar panels and connect to the grid. It would require the Public Utilities Commission and Energy Commission to establish this process for electric corporations and local publicly owned electric utilities. The PUC and Energy Commission would also submit an annual report that shows utility performance in reviewing interconnection requests.

In The Bill

The bill asks much more of both the PUC, and the governing boards of all publicly owned electric utilities. By Jan. 1, 2021, SB-288 would require these entities to:

“…among other things, create one or more tariffs that offer fair compensation for customer-sited energy storage systems that export electricity to the electrical grid and to consider one or more tariffs for customer-sited energy storage and renewable energy systems to support grid reliability and community resiliency in the event of emergencies or grid outages. The bill would require the PUC to collaborate with the Independent System Operator to modify existing tariffs to remove barriers to the participation of customer-sited energy resources in programs intended to provide energy, capacity, and ancillary services for the bulk power system. The bill would require the PUC and the governing board of each local publicly owned electric utility to ensure that customers with onsite renewable energy or energy storage systems can take certain related actions and are not subject to discriminatory fees or charges.”

Showing Support

During the official public introduction of the bill, Sen. Wiener said,

“No matter where in California you live, no matter what your income, no matter what the quality of the air that you breathe, you should be able to save money and help save the planet by using solar energy storage and other groundbreaking clean energy technologies at your home or at your place of work. If we in California are ever going to reach our lofty clean energy goals, we need a far greater deployment of these decentralized forms of clean energy generation. We also need to ensure that California individuals and businesses can make their own energy choices, instead of having those choices made for them, and that they have the ability to lower their energy bills.”

Sen. Wiener also spoke of the need to create a more resilient energy system in the state. He referenced the effects of recent California wildfires on California’s centralized energy system. (A number of California green projects are now at risk, stemming from state wildfire issues.)

Sen. Nielsen and a number of solar-supporting California residents also spoke at the press conference. The bill is backed by a number of state solar advocacy groups, including the Solar Rights Alliance.

California is the U.S. leader in solar power, with far and away the largest installed solar capacity in the country. The state passed a law in December that requires any new houses to feature solar panels, starting in 2020. If this bill passes, it will be another strong show of support for solar power in the state.

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Phil Dzikiy is an Editor/Writer with Electrek/9to5Mac. Tips: