Gino DiCaro

Solar bill fails to reach Governor's desk

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, Sept. 9, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

It was one of the Governor's top legislative priorities, and now, one of his major disappointments.

The Schwarzenegger Administration's "Million Solar Roofs Initiative", SB 1 (Kevin Murray, D-Los Angeles), failed to get out of the Assembly and back to the Senate.  Recent amendments requiring prevailing union wages on commercial installations appeared to doom the fate of the bill, with the Governor's office promising a veto unless the language was taken out and Democratic legislators balking at doing so.

On September 8, in the waning hours of the 2005 legislative session, Democratic lawmakers and staff floated a compromise proposal that would have earmarked the solar funds to 50 percent on public works, 40 percent on residential and 10 percent on low-income.  Commercial and industrial would have been ineligible for the solar subsidy.  This means large users would have been required to help pay for the program but would not have been eligible to participate.  The proposal, which CMTA strongly opposed, was never amended into the bill.  A late evening hearing on the bill was anticipated but failed to materialize before adjournment.

CMTA has an "oppose unless amended" position on the bill and has proposed a cost allocation methodology that would allocate SB 1 costs based on overall demand profiles and peak usage, and spread the program cost among customer classes based on each customer class's contribution to peak demand.  It would have the effect of avoiding significant additional costs on the industrial class, who already pay exorbitantly high rates.

Manufacturers in California now pay nearly twice as much as their counterparts in other western states.  They also pay a disproportionate share of peak power costs in California since they largely have flat loads and thus do not drive demand during peak periods.  Given that SB 1 is aimed at addressing peak demand, the customers who drive peak demand should pay their fair share of program costs.  CMTA's proposed cost allocation methodology would accomplish just that.

The bill will be taken up again by legislators when they reconvene next January.

Meanwhile, some Capitol observers are speculating that the Schwarzenegger Administration might decide to bypass the Legislature and implement the "Million Solar Roofs" initiative, or perhaps a scaled-down version of it, through the California Public Utilities Commission. A preview of the Administration's post-legislative session solar strategy is likely to happen on Monday, September 12 at the next quarterly CPUC-California Energy Commision Energy Action Plan meeting (10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., 1516 Ninth Street in Sacramento.)
Read more Energy articles

Capitol updates archive 989898989