California members of Congress urge regulators to protect rooftop solar program

Via Los Angeles Times

Two dozen members of California's congressional delegation urged state regulators this week to protect the compensation program for rooftop solar owners who send power to the electric grid.

In a Dec. 2 letter, the Congress members urged the California Public Utilities Commission to continue the state's "net metering" program, a benefit given to rooftop solar owners in exchange for sending the power they produce to the electric grid.

"Absent net metering, consumers will lose the option of saving on average 10-20% on their utility bill," the letter stated.

"While we understand the needs of the commission to develop fair and balanced policies for the entire energy industry, we urge you to preserve net metering and reduce our reliance on climate changing fossil fuels."

The commission is revising the state's net metering rules. Regulators were given until the end of 2015 to develop the new policies but have yet to produce the guidelines.

California utilities argue that rooftop solar owners do not pay their fair share of maintaining power lines and other equipment that make up the electric grid. That, the utilities say, leaves those who can least afford it to foot the bill for the electric grid.

The California Solar Energy Industries Assn. said in a statement that net metering has helped fuel growth of rooftop solar across the state. The association counters the utilities' arguments by saying their proposals would put future customers’ ability to go solar at risk. 

“Ensuring a strong net metering policy is a win-win," U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Berkeley). "It means more clean energy on the grid while creating good-paying jobs in the growing green sector economy.”