The ink has yet to dry on California’s paradigm-shifting new proposal, Title 24, which will require solar on all new homes, and, already, utility companies are looking for ways to undermine the decentralization of power. Unfortunately for utility companies, California state commissioners doubled down on their vision of a state powered with a more decentralized grid.
Most recently, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) submitted a proposal to the California Energy Commission (CEC) that would create a loophole in the state’s solar mandate making it ineffective.
SMUD’s proposal attempted to exploit the community solar option in California’s Title 24 mandate, allowing new homes to use power from far-off centralized solar farms, rather than requiring them to be built with self-sufficient solar systems.
During a time when power utilities have begun shutting off electricity to millions of consumers to avoid wildfires caused by downed power lines, many believed that SMUD’s efforts were an attempt to hold on to power and keep consumers paying high-utility rates.
“This will be the end of the new home solar mandate as we know it,” said Benjamin Davis, a staffer at the California Solar & Storage Assn.
The CEC voted to turn down SMUD’s proposal on Nov 14, securing a victory for California’s distributed solar and storage. The decision sends a loud and clear message that the state is serious about seeing its new buildings outfitted with solar power, drafting a more restrictive definition of community solar as it exists under Title 24.
A projected 2020 increase in demand for solar systems in California, coupled with the 30 percent Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which is scheduled to phase out over the course of the next few years, has inspired a sudden uptick in homeowners contacting solar installers such as Go Green Solar, hoping to become more independent from large scale utility companies.