California is on the way to expanding their clean energy mandate. The existing mandate is to have 33% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. Currently most energy companies in California have already met or exceeded this goal. The new proposal is to aim for 50% renewable by 2030. This proposal has passed the Senate and is making its way through the Assembly. The existing mandate largely excludes rooftop solar from its calculations and there is now debate about whether to include rooftop solar going forward.
Advocating for the inclusion of rooftop solar in the new mandate are of course the rooftop solar companies as well as conservationists and solar activists. The argument being that the large solar farms are much more disruptive to the ecosystem than rooftop solar. In addition they feel that any steps we can take to increase the use of solar energy are positive steps.
Interestingly the utility companies are also siding with the rooftop solar advocates. This is likely related to net energy metering. Currently rooftop solar customers who produce more energy than they use are able to sell the excess to the utility company for market value. The existing incentive is set to end sometime in 2016 and the new program is likely to be less lucrative for customers. As a result of this change the utility companies are hoping to be able to buy energy from residential customers for a low price and count it towards their 50% mandate.
Opposing the inclusion of rooftop solar in the new mandate are the trade unions. Typically the large-scale solar farms use union workers and rooftop solar installers are less likely to do so. In addition to the unions there are other opponents of rooftop solar’s inclusion in the new mandate. Their biggest argument is that there are already sufficient incentives for rooftop solar and it has continued to grow exponentially without a mandate. If we exclude rooftop solar from the new mandate there is a great possibility that the actual renewable energy percentage in California will be much higher than 50% because all the rooftop solar will be on top of the mandated amount.
To learn how to join the many others enjoying rooftop solar in California please contact us. Whether or not your solar counts towards the mandate you’ll still be saving money and the environment.