Solar Advocates Attack Proposed Energy Bill

AB 327 could change solar customer rates

Solar advocates protested an assembly bill on Wednesday that could leave solar panel owners without a lower energy bill.

Assembly Bill 327 would authorize the California Public Utilities Commission to change the existing rate structure, that solar energy customers believe would increase their rate.

Protesters said they want the bill amended so it doesn't impact solar panel investments.

Sempra Energy said they need to revisit their rates because right now many of their large consumers are paying a bulk of the energy bill. Now the company is proposing to rewrite energy conservation measures implemented more than a decade ago.

In 2001, a bill was passed to protect California ratepayers from price fluctuations which capped rates for some consumers (including low income).

Because of this, the energy company said it has seen that their large energy consumers are paying more. They think it’s only fair to change their rate system--making more fixed charges.

Solar power advocates said the energy company has not been clear about what the new set of rates will be, but said it will put an end to net metering. This gives solar power owners full credit for the energy they produce with their panels and then put back into the energy grid.

The group against the bill says it won't make sense for solar panel owners anymore because they will be getting much less from their investment.

“These new rules change it so you don't get full retail credit. You might get some smaller version of what you would have otherwise got. That's problematic because people have put up thousands of dollars expecting a certain rate of return,” said Daniel Sullivan, president of Sullivan Solar Power.

The bill will have to be voted on by Friday in order to go to the California Senate floor.

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