PV Solar Report Contributor
Earth Month ended well for shared renewables in California. A few weeks ago we reported on the two shared renewables bills making their way through the California legislature, SB 43 and AB 1014. And last week, both bills made it past their first hurdle: committee votes that were crucial to keeping the bills going.
The first of these was AB 1014, which passed through the California Assembly Utility and Commerce Committee on April 29 with a vote of 9 - 0. There was no opposing testimony. In fact, support for the bill was expressed not only by organizations like Vote Solar and the Solar Energy Industries Association but also the US Department of Defense and utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E.
According to Tom Price, California Shared Renewables Policy and Market Strategies Director, the bill was significantly amended. (For details, see this AB 1014 analysis.) But he says its progress is still “tremendously positive news. While it’s not the bill we started with, it does help us advance the goal of broadening access to renewable energy.”
The next day brought more good news: the California Senate Energy Committee voted 6 - 4 to pass SB 43. This bill got some pushback, as utilities and other groups raised concerns that it would shift costs to non-participants. Senator Lois Wolk, the bill’s sponsor, has committed to ensuring that doesn’t happen. So we can expect to see more changes made to this bill.
What’s next for the bills? They need to get through their respective Appropriations Committees and through full chambers, and then continue through the opposite chamber. At that point, the bills are expected to be combined into a single proposal. We’ll keep you posted on their progress.
While many details remain to be worked out, the passage of both AB 1014 and SB 43 through their first committees represents a major milestone. And their eventual passage would have even greater significance. According to a recent report by Vote Solar, a 1000 MW shared renewables program created by these bills would bring these benefits to California:
12,700 local jobs
$130 million in tax revenues
$4.3 billion in total economic activity
That doesn’t even include benefits like improved public health, increased security, and climate change mitigation.
And there’s yet another benefit. Where California goes, so does the rest of the country. We don’t have enough shared renewables laws in the US. Passing these bills would set a great example and help spread renewables beyond just California -- to the majority of us throughout the country who can’t yet participate in generating clean power.
Solar leases are helping far more people go solar than before and are helping spread solar in a big way. In 2012, third-party-owned solar represented 74% of California’s home solar market. And much of that market’s growth was in low- and median-income areas.
That’s great news! Still, about 75% of us are still left out of the equation. We may have shaded roofs, rent our homes, or live in multi-unit buildings. Businesses can run into these issues as well.
Solar for the rest of us
So how do we get solar for the rest of us? One solution is shared renewables. And now there are two bills making their way through the California legislature that could bring the state a pilot program to try out this idea: SB 43 and AB 1014. They’re really twin bills -- almost but not quite identical -- that will eventually be combined into one. You can find details, including case studies on shared renewables and summaries of both bills, at the California Shared Renewables site.
What this legislation does is allow investor-owned utility customers to get a bill credit for solar or other renewables produced at a location other than their own property. This would be completely voluntary, and ratepayers would not be affected -- an important aspect of this legislation. Customers who sign up for this program would not experience any change in their service, and utilities would still get paid to make the grid safe and reliable.
Each bill would create a pilot program for shared renewable projects of up to 20 MW in size, for a total of either 500 MW (under SB 43) or 1000 MW (AB 1014). The goal is for this voluntary pilot program to spur more private investments and create a significant number of jobs.
The program would would bring access to renewable energy to a wider group of customers -- to those of us in the 75%. There are even carve-outs for residential customers, as well as for smaller projects (1 MW or smaller) in environmentally or economically disadvantaged communities. And the bills protect prime farmland from being displaced by the projects.
A few other states have passed or are considering similar bills, but Joy Hughes of the Solar Gardens Institute considers SB 43 and AB 1014 “probably the most thoroughly thought through legislative treatment of the subject to date.”
What you can do now
If you’re in California and would like to support these bills, help is needed now! Some important votes are coming up in key Senate and Assembly committees:
April 22 ( Earth Day): Vote on AB 1014, authored by Assembly Member Das Williams and Senator Lois Wolk, in the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee
April 30: Vote on SB 43, authored by Senator Lois Wolk and Assembly Member Das Williams, in the Senate Energy Committee
It’s crucial that the legislature receive letters of support -- and they need to be in by Wednesday April 17.
So after you get your taxes filed, be sure to send letters in support of SB 43 and AB 1014! Especially helpful are letters from your company, organization, or school district. It’s important to write one for each bill. And it’s easy -- you can simply fill out the templates here and then send the letters to
Why support these bills?
Shared renewables programs allow many more people and businesses to participate in and benefit from solar. They give people and communities more control over their energy generation. Moreover, they help fight climate change, create jobs, reduce utilities’ need to buy power at the costliest time of day, improve the reliability of the grid, and save taxpayers money.
With all these benefits, shared renewables really are a win-win-win.
There are a number of ways to help spread solar. We’re lucky to have shared renewables as a potential option in California. Let’s work together to make that a reality. Let’s work to get solar to the 75% who are now left out.
The California Home Solar Market Shines, sets New Records
The largest U.S. residential home solar market sets new solar sales and installation record during Q3 2012.
Oakland, Calif., October 30, 2012 – The California home solar market sets new solar sales and installation records during the third-quarter of 2012, according to the new Q3 2012 California Residential Sales & Install Report released by PV Solar Report, an authority on solar market data.
During the most recent quarter, nearly 11,000 California homeowners signed up to install over 66MW of home solar. Completed installations topped 45MW for the quarter, with nearly 8,000 residential installations completed. This marks the largest residential-solar sales and installation quarter in the history of California.
“I think these results are an indication of what the future holds for solar energy in California, and what solar energy can mean to the US economy,” says Stephen Torres, Founder and Managing Director of PV Solar Report. “Lower installation prices, financing options that allow homeowners to go solar with little or no money down, and an innovative and motivated solar workforce have all contributed to California leading the way to a cleaner energy future,” remarks Torres.
Southern California has become the solar hotspot, with all top five counties in terms of sales and installs being in the southern part of the state. A complete breakdown of all solar sellers, cities, counties, installers, and equipment manufacturers can be found in the PV Solar Report Q3 2012 California Residential Sales and Installation Report.
Companies in the report include:
SunPower, Acro Energy, SMA, Sillivan Solar Power, Enphase Energy, Verengo, Yingli, Sungevity, Trina Solar, SolarCity, ET Solar, Baker Electric Solar, Power-One, Solar Service Center, Sharp, Solar West Electric, LG Electronics, Petersen-Dean, Suntech, Fronius, REC Solar, Canadian Solar, Future Energy, Kyocera, SolarMax, Suniva, SolarEdge, Schuco, Solar Universe, Kaco, American Solar Direct, SolarWorld, Real Goods, Chint Solar, HelioPower, Growatt, Hanwha SolarOne, Solar Alliance of America, Renesola, PV Powered, and all other firms/panels/inverters in California's largest utility territories.
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PV Solar Report and Sunrun Announce Third-Party-Owned Solar Has Generated Over $1 Billion in Growth for California
Total contract value of third-party-owned solar systems installed in CA surpasses $1 billion
San Francisco, CA – August 23, 2012 – PV Solar report, an authority on solar market data, and Sunrun, the nation’s largest home solar company, today announced that third-party-owned solar has delivered over $1 billion to the California economy since it became a homeowner choice in 2007. This number was determined by totaling the contract value for each third-party-owned solar installation in the state.
Also called solar power service, third-party-owned solar means a provider like Sunrun owns, maintains and insures solar panels on a homeowner’s roof. Homeowners switch to solar without the high upfront costs, avoid the hassle of ownership, and save money on electricity bills. Sunrun pioneered the solar power service model for home solar in 2007 and is the market leader, installing over $1.5 million in solar equipment every day.
The number of Californians who have chosen solar power service over cash purchase so far in 2012 is 30 times the total number for 2007. This equates to a 3,332 percent increase. The $1 billion infusion from this increase went directly to California local businesses and communities while helping homeowners of all income levels switch to solar.
“About 75 percent of Californians switching to solar now choose solar power service,” said Sunrun President and co-Founder Lynn Jurich. “Most of these families wouldn’t go solar if they didn’t have this option as a smart financial choice. We’ve eliminated the upfront cost and hassle.”
According to the CSI, since 2007 the fastest growing segment of the California population deciding to go solar has been the 50k-75k household income range. The number of projects in middle-income markets (i.e., areas with median incomes between $50,000 and $100,000) has increased by 445 percent since 2007.
“Because third-party-owned solar companies like Sunrun lower the barrier to entry, more people can access solar,” said Stephen Torres, founder and managing director of PV Solar Report. “That’s more Americans who save money on their electric bills while helping create local jobs, and more money flowing to state and local economies.”
DOWNLOAD THE EXECUTIVE BRIEF HERE
*Source: PV Solar Report analysis of California utility rebate data.
Sunrun is the nation’s largest home solar company and invented solar power service, a way for homeowners to go solar without the high upfront costs. Sunrun owns, insures, monitors and maintains the solar panels on a homeowner's roof, while families pay a low rate for clean energy and fix their electric costs for 20 years. Since Sunrun introduced solar power service in 2007, it has become the preferred way for consumers to go solar in the nation’s leading solar markets. More than 25,000 homeowners in 10 states have chosen Sunrun, and the Company partners with over 30 leading local solar companies who together employ more than 3,000 workers. Sunrun has attracted enough capital to support the purchase of $1 billion in solar systems from investors including U.S. Bancorp and raised $145 million in venture capital from Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, Foundation Capital, and Madrone Capital Partners. For more information visit: www.sunrunhome.com
Intent is to get local governments, utilities, and solar industry to reduce costs and time required to complete solar projects.
Opposition to the solar carports and canopies state the visual unsightliness as the primary reason, causing some projects to be abandoned.
The Sunnyvale startup began operations and manufacturing in Silicon Valley, but incentives and cost of living have the firm moving US manufacturing to South Carolina.
San Jose Mercury News
Mid-Atlantic region is now beating California as largest PV installation market, with more potential in 2011; US market growth by segment in 2010, residential +68%, commercial +79%, utility +246%.
Bechtel Power Corp. installed the 1MW system on 6 acres at Nichols Farm near Fresno, the system uses SolFocus CPV technology.
This next generation monitoring solution allows integrators to monitor any inverter via Ethernet, powerline, or cell network connections and provides a private-label web based solution to customers.
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