The fate of California's rooftop solar industry is in limbo.
On January 27th, the California Public Utilities Commission will vote on a revised set of rules that allows residents to be paid for excess solar electricity generated by their panels. The proposal would cut back the credits allotted to customers and charge a monthly fee to participate in maintaining the power grid. The CPUC and some environmental advocates say it would modernize what's called the Net Metering program. They also claim the current policy hurts low and middle-income customers by raising rates for those without solar panels. The proposal is drawing fierce opposition from the solar industry and environmental justice groups who say it would threaten jobs and raise the price of residential solar panels.
Energy regulators say that net energy metering would provide changes to the program that are need to accurately reflect solar power value and prevent electricity rates from climbing through the roof. This would greatly impact non-solar customers, who naturally pay more when solar credits are up. The proposed changes would also provide incentives for solar customers, including battery storage systems imposed by power tariffs used on the grid during peak energy hours. Hundreds of people opposed to the proposed changes held simultaneous protests Thursday in San Francisco and Los Angeles.