Solar Bill of Rights introduced by California senators


From pv magazine USA.

Across the United States, home and business owners are increasingly demanding their right as citizens to generate their own electricity. And it should not be surprising the movement is most advanced in California, where PV system owners and the solar industry have come together to form a dedicated membership organization – the Solar Rights Alliance (SRA) – to protect that right.

This week the movement took a further step, with a statement of the principle of the right to self-generate and connect to the grid proposed as law. California senators Scott Weiner (Democrat, San Francisco) and Jim Nielsen (Republican, Fresno) introduced the Solar Bill of Rights (legislation number S-288), which would open up the power system to the participation of behind-the-meter resources. The proposal states:

The bill would require the PUC [public utility commission] to collaborate with the independent system operator to modify existing tariffs to remove barriers to the participation of customer-sited energy resources in programs intended to provide energy, capacity and ancillary services for the bulk power system.

The bill would also ensure the owners of distributed solar and storage “are not subject to discriminatory fees or charges” and would require regulators to establish a streamlined and standardized process for utilities. Both actions would apply to investor-owned and public utilities such as the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Imperial Irrigation District and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

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The bill would also have utilities look at compensating distributed generation and storage for the resiliency benefits it offers, by requiring them to “consider one or more tariffs for customer-sited energy storage and renewable energy systems to support grid reliability and community resiliency in the event of emergencies or grid outages”.

The effort is backed not only by the Solar Rights Alliance, but also Vote Solar and the California Solar and Storage Alliance – the main distributed solar advocacy groups in California. The bill has the backing, as co-author, of senator Jeff Stone (Republican, Riverside County), as well as four assembly member co-authors. On top of that, Wiener is on the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, which may be one of the first stops of the bill.

If the proposal does become law, it could be the first such piece of legislation in the nation to explicitly enshrine the right to participate in the grid using rooftop PV, and could be a model for other states. However, few other U.S. states have the kind of dedicated organization comprised of homeowners the SRA represents.

Wiener and Nielsen announced the bill at an event at the California State Capitol on Tuesday, as shown in the following video:

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