California passes laws to promote increased renewable procurement and net metering
California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills to promote the use of clean energy. AB 327, signed October 7, 2013, allows the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to increase the state’s renewables portfolio standard (RPS), and also calls for revising the state’s net metering generation limits by 2017. SB 43, signed September 11, 2013, creates the “Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program,” which allows municipal, nonresidential, and end-use consumers to get credits on electricity bills for buying renewable energy.
Under AB 327, the CPUC may set RPS procurement targets for investor-owned utilities in excess of the 33 percent target in 2020 required by SBX 1-2. The law also accounts for lost revenues from utility customers who switch to net-metered solar by giving the CPUC permission to apply a monthly fixed charge of up to $10 to support power grid maintenance, beginning January 1, 2015.
AB 327 also requires the CPUC to develop a new Net Energy Metering (NEM) program by July 1, 2015, in preparation for implementation on July 1, 2017. AB 327 specifies that the new NEM program abandon limitations that restrict customer-generation to one megawatt of capacity, and further permit net-metered customer generation exceeding one megawatt to establish interconnection with the distribution grid.
Under California’s Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program, businesses, schools, and renters without access to net-metered renewable power now have an opportunity to voluntarily purchase renewable power from the state’s investor-owned utilities. Ratepayers who opt-in to the pilot program may purchase renewable power from generating installations limited to 20 MW in capacity, with an overall cap on the program set at 600 MW. The law also requires the deployment of 100 MW of renewable power in disadvantaged residential communities.
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