Thursday, 21 January 2021

Wiggins calls on state to promote solar subsidies, rebates for multi-unit dwellings

SACRAMENTO – During a Tuesday hearing of the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee, Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) called on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to “promote and seriously consider” solar subsidies and incentives for apartments, multi-unit dwellings and buildings.


Wiggins, who serves on the committee, said that they could be offered under the CPUC’s directive to include solar subsidies and rebates for low-income housing pursuant to the California Solar Initiative.


According to the CPUC’s energy division director, Sean Gallagher, the commission was still in the process of formulating its “Low-Income Incentive Program,” and that a decision regarding subsidies for owners and/or tenants of apartments or multi-unit buildings had yet to be made.


Senator Wiggins may introduce a bill on the issue given that solar PV installations for buildings must be connected to one meter as a matter of state policy. However, state policy also requires that individual units be separately metered for electricity and other utilities.


Under these provisions, a building owner would have to either foot the bill to purchase inverters for each tenant’s individual electric meter to covert solar to electricity, charge each tenant for the inverter, or figure out a way to sub-meter tenants in order to participate in the CSI program. These options are either cost-prohibitive or seemingly illegal.


“These types of barriers inhibit a major portion of the market from participating in the state’s solar program, or CSI, where consumers can receive rebates as an incentive to install solar PV panels and contribute energy to the power-grid during peak energy demand periods,” Wiggins said.


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