California passes roadmap to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045: Boosts to storage, multi-family PV

California solar bills

California is changing the renewable energy game yet again, sending a series of bills to the governor’s desk that will drive energy storage adoption, multi-family installs and get California to be 100 percent renewable by 2045.

SB 700

For years now Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association has said SB 700 will do for storage what SB 1 did for solar over a decade ago, “namely create a mainstream market by driving up demand and driving down costs all while creating jobs and clean energy choices for consumers.”

SB 700 energy storage

SB 700 would result in nearly 3,000 MW of behind-the-meter energy storage systems at schools, farms, homes, nonprofits and businesses in California by 2026. SB 700 would achieve these goals by re-authorizing the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) for an additional five years, extending rebates for consumers through 2025. It would add up to $800 million for storage and other emerging clean energy technologies, resulting in a total investment of $1.2 billion for customer sites energy storage. Boosting energy storage will help California achieve its goal of generating 100% of its electricity from renewable resources, as called for in SB 100.

RELATED: California to launch three programs to improve low-income community access to solar

SB 100

The legislature-approved bill requires California’s electricity providers to achieve a 100 percent clean and zero-carbon goal by 2045, increasing the current Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 60% by 2030 and requiring the remaining 40% to be met by all eligible zero-carbon emitting resources. Authored by State Senator and former Pro Tem Kevin De León, this bill will make California the second state after Hawaii to set a 100% clean energy goal.

“This is a huge victory for California, as the legislature is setting the course for a secure, clean, affordable energy future for its citizens and our nation,” said Amisha Rai, Senior Director of California Policy for AEE. “We congratulate Sen. De Léon for his resolve and leadership on this bill. The advanced energy industry stands ready to make a 100% clean energy grid a reality.”

AEE supported SB 100, along with several other bills this session, including EV charging infrastructure bill AB 2127*, passed late Monday, and a bill to expand the market for advanced energy through an integrated Western grid that is still pending.

There is still work to be done though, according to Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“To make this great legislative victory a practical reality, California must begin taking steps now to deploy renewable energy on a wide scale,” she said. “That’s why we are asking lawmakers to also pass AB 893, which would require utilities to ramp up procurement of renewable resources. Without serious near-term action, ambitious long-term goals will be hard to reach. Furthermore, AB 813, legislation to create a regional electricity market that includes California and neighboring states will help accelerate renewable energy deployment in California and other areas of the West.”

AB 693

A team of leading clean energy and affordable housing organizations in California will run the state’s new Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) Program. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) initiative will provide up to $100 million annually for 10 years to fund solar energy installations on multifamily housing serving low-income and disadvantaged communities throughout the state, with a goal to help reduce energy bills for residents.

Million solar roof initiative

The SOMAH Nonprofit Administrative Partnership includes the Center for Sustainable Energy, Association for Energy Affordability and GRID Alternatives, with implementation assistance from the California Housing Partnership Corporation, Rising Sun Energy Center and California Environmental Justice Alliance, among others.

The CPUC Energy Division selected this partnership based on their long-term experience in implementing statewide renewable energy and energy efficiency programs and working with affordable housing owners and tenants to maximize participation and community benefits.

“The idea behind SOMAH is to ensure equal access to solar energy for all California households, regardless of income levels,” said Benjamin Airth, a senior specialist in distributed energy resources at the Center for Sustainable Energy. “Low-income renters pay a higher percentage of their income on utility bills, and improving access to solar means lower bills, better housing security and a cleaner, healthier environment for all Californians.”

The SOMAH Program was created by California Assembly Bill (AB) 693 introduced by Assembly Member Susan Eggman (District 13, Stockton) to help California meet its climate goals, reduce energy bills for low-income residents and ensure that clean energy infrastructure isn’t just for the wealthy. The largest investment of its kind in the nation, it provides up to $1 billion over the next decade from the state’s investor-owned utilities’ greenhouse gas cap-and-trade auction proceeds to fully subsidize 300 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on affordable multifamily properties throughout the state by 2030.

By comparison, over the past 10 years the former Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program resulted in about 34 megawatts of energy installed statewide. SOMAH will build on the many lessons learned from the MASH program, including tenant savings and workforce development.

“This is an incredible opportunity to put clean energy to work for whole communities,” said Cathleen Monahan, vice president of program administration at GRID Alternatives. “Each project will generate local clean energy, substantially reduce energy bills for families and provide community members with paid workforce training opportunities to help them access jobs in California’s robust solar market.”

To receive SOMAH incentives, the property must either be in a designated disadvantaged community or have at least 80 percent of its households with incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income. The CPUC estimates more than 3,500 multifamily affordable properties across the state qualify, encompassing nearly 255,000 individual households.

AB 693 requires that SOMAH projects must provide at least 51 percent of the clean energy produced from the PV system to tenants to reduce their bills. It allows each household to receive a utility bill credit for a proportionate share of the energy generated by the building’s system under a utility tariff called virtual net energy metering.

“SOMAH will unlock the benefits of healthy, affordable energy for the underserved Californians who need it most,” said Stephanie Wang, policy director at the California Housing Partnership Corporation. “This program will also help to preserve affordable homes threatened by rising energy and housing costs.”

Technical assistance for property owners and residents is integrated into all SOMAH services, from the initial incentive application process through the post installation period during which the program will continue to provide long-term support with billing, monitoring and operations necessary to ensure system performance and energy savings.

“We also want property owners and operators to develop an understanding of other energy programs and options available for technical assistance, including energy efficiency, benchmarking, energy storage and additional improvements related to energy use, such as electric vehicle charging,” said Andrew Brooks, director of West Coast operations at the Association for Energy Affordability.

The SOMAH Program is expected to launch in late 2018.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar workers rally at California state house to support self-generation incentives

california storage bill

The solar industry in California is rallying behind Senate Bill 700 to replenish incentives for residential and commercial energy storage systems and get ahead of the Time-of-Use rates that will hit consumer energy bills in 2019.

“We’ve come out by the hundreds from all over the state to speak directly with our elected officials about the urgency of supporting energy storage in California,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director for the California Solar and Storage Association, the bill’s sponsor. ”SB 700 will do for storage what SB 1 did for solar over a decade ago, namely create a mainstream market by driving up demand and driving down costs all while creating jobs and clean energy choices for consumer.”

SB 700 would re-authorize the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) for an additional five years, extending rebates for homeowners, nonprofits and businesses through 2025. It would add up to $700 million to the SGIP program, creating stability and certainty to an emerging new technology.

“If we are going to get to 100% clean energy, we need to be using solar power every hour of the day, not just when the sun is shining,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), author of SB 700. “This bill will protect clean energy jobs while also protecting consumers from ever rising energy bills.”

RELATED:  Shave and a rate cut: How solar + storage solutions are shaving peaks, saving big bucks

The California solar industry supports over 86,000 jobs in the state of California, by far the most of any state in the country. These jobs are in jeopardy unless the energy storage market achieves the same economies of scale achieved in the solar photovoltaic market, which saw an 80% decline in costs over the course of the state’s 10-year incentive program, the Million Solar Roofs Initiative. This is because so-called Time-of-Use rates will make energy storage a necessity of every solar system but without cost reductions in storage, the state could suffer a setback in its deployment of solar energy.

“More than 20% of Sunrun’s direct solar customers in California are adding a home battery to their system, with up to 60% adoption in some markets,” said Alex McDonough, Vice President of Public Policy for Sunrun, the nation’s largest residential solar, storage and energy services company. “Senator Weiner’s legislation provides clear and consistent policy that will drive down costs, expand access, and support job growth. Solar combined with batteries is a clean, reliable and affordable solution that can, and should, be available to all.”

SB 700 is currently in the Assembly Appropriations committee. If it passes that committee, it will proceed to the Assembly Floor the following week. It passed the Senate last year so would only need to return for a concurrence vote before heading to the governor’s desk.

— Solar Builder magazine

Senate Bill to transition California to 100 percent clean energy moves to full assembly


Advancing to full assembly late last week in California was Senate Bill 100, historic legislation to transition California to 100% clean electricity by 2045, sending it to the full Assembly for a vote. Earlier in the day, advocates delivered more than 38,000 messages and signatures in support of the legislation from a range of stakeholders, including health and environmental advocates, clean energy industries, business communities, and environmental justice organizations.

“On this Fourth of July, as we sing about beautiful, spacious skies, let’s commend the Committee on its visionary decision to clear those skies and power California’s future with 100 percent clean electricity,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy and transportation program director with Environment California. “We applaud Chair Chris Holden and the Committee for acting to create healthier communities today and better lives for our children.”


“We are excited California is one step further on the path of creating new jobs, cleaning our air and powering our homes, businesses and cars with clean, zero-carbon energy. Reducing carbon emissions and air pollution by transitioning away from fossil fuels is one of the most important actions our country and world must take to avoid the worst consequences of climate change,” said Laura Wisland, senior energy manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists.“We appreciate the leadership shown by California legislators to keep our clean energy momentum going strong.”

“This Independence Day Californians can celebrate being one step closer to energy independence and freedom from fossil fuels. As SB 100 moves to the Assembly for a floor vote, we urge all Assembly members to reflect on this historic opportunity to advance renewable energy and leave a cleaner and safer climate for generations to come,” said California Interfaith Power & Light executive director Susan Stephenson.

— Solar Builder magazine

California to launch three programs to improve low-income community access to solar

thumbs up

Right on cue after our Install Inequality feature this week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted three new programs to promote the installation of solar energy to serve customers in disadvantaged communities.

“Transitioning to a clean economy must include all Californians. Targeting solar investments in low income and disadvantaged communities will help ensure that all Californians have access to all the benefits of solar, whether on their roofs or nearby in their neighborhoods,” said Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves.

The programs approved include

1) The Disadvantaged Communities – Single-family Solar Homes (DAC-SASH) program, modeled after the existing Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Program, will provide up-front financial incentives toward the installation of solar systems for low income homeowners. The program will be available to low income customers who are resident-owners of single-family homes in disadvantaged communities. The incentives will assist low income customers in overcoming barriers to the installation of solar energy, such as a lack of up-front capital or credit needed to finance solar installation.

2) The Disadvantaged Communities – Green Tariff (DAC-Green Tariff) program will provide a 20 percent bill discount to customers in disadvantaged communities. This will allow customers to choose clean energy options without the need to own their home and without the cost of installing their own solar systems. The program is modeled after the existing Green Tariff portion of the Green Tariff/Shared Renewables Programs. It will be available to customers who meet the income eligibility requirements for the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) and Family Electric Rate Assistance programs.

3) The Community Solar Green Tariff program is similar to the DAC Green Tariff program, and will also provide a 20 percent bill discount. This program will allow primarily low income customers in disadvantaged communities to benefit from the development of solar generation projects located in or near their communities. The communities will work with a local non-profit or local government “sponsor” to organize community interest and present siting locations to the utility; the sponsor can also receive an incentive for its efforts.

Both the DAC-SASH and DAC-Green Tariff programs will be funded first through greenhouse gas allowance proceeds. If such funds are exhausted, the programs would be funded through public purpose program funds.

— Solar Builder magazine

Three possible shifts in California’s solar market after historic rule

solar california rule

When the world’s fifth largest economy mandates the use of your product, as is case for solar in California starting in 2020, outlooks can shift dramatically. Shocking, I know. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the implications.

1. GTM boosts residential forecast by 14 percent

Solar’s growth stall has largely been because of California’s growth stall. That lagging should now be a thing of the past. On net, the implementation of this rule increases our base-case residential forecasts by 14% from 2020-2023E – an upside of nearly 650 MW over the same timeframe. The California Energy Commission (CEC), estimates nearly 75,000 new homes are expected to be built statewide in 2020. Based on that analysis, new-build solar will account for 23 percent of new installations in 2020 — or 222 megawatts. New build residential homes will account from 18-23% of total solar build-out from 2020-2023E. Though multi-family units are also included in this ruling, GTM excluded these customers from this analysis given their typical inclusion in its “non-residential” sub-segment.

2. Good bye soft costs?

Soft costs such as permitting, marketing and customer acquisition make up about two-thirds of a solar installation costs. Many of those will be removed or reduced dramatically in this equation, which make a huge impact on the economics of residential solar.

So that’s the good news, but who shares in all of this upward momentum is an open question. How much will homebuilders take on themselves? Will most solar companies focus on the new build market, and what will those margins be? What becomes of the retrofit business model? These questions aren’t meant to imply bad news for anyone (maybe every single stakeholder wins!), but a rule change this dramatic can be expected to make a dramatic change somewhere in the status quo.

RELATED: Solar Installer Survey: Two-thirds will absorb solar tariff costs instead of passing to customers as confidence climbs

3. The rise of solar shingles and BIPV?

What if homebuilders gravitate right to BIPV products? According to Freedonia Group analyst Matt Zielenski, demand for solar roofing products – such as those made by Tesla, GAF Materials, and CertainTeed – will see strong growth going forward as builders and contractors in California install these products on newly built homes.

“Solar roofing products have several advantages over traditional roof-mount solar panels,” says Zielenski. “One of these advantages is that they are more attractive than solar panels. Most solar roofing products look like traditional roofing, such as asphalt shingles or roofing tiles. Their ability to ‘blend in’ with the rest of the structure can add to the curb appeal and value of a home.”

As a result, US demand for solar roofing is projected to reach $2.2 billion in 2022, and continue to grow strongly through 2037. For more information on the U.S. solar roofing market, see Freedonia’s new study Solar Roofing in the US by Application and Region.

RELATED: Module Evolution: What big-time PV improvements will boost panel efficiency?

4. The end of the traditional grid?

I know we said three in the headline, but this one is more us thinking out loud, so consider it a bonus. We are excited to see the very long-term results of this initiative. Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich once asked “what’s the fastest way to install 1 MW?” and then expounded on the possible benefits of shifting the concept of large-scale PV from the plodding and planning needed for a gigantic utility-scale system to a plan that nimbly deploys a ton of small systems at once that equals the same MW-scale right at the point of demand. This is a giant lab experiment / case study that moves this thought experiment into reality, and could show what a true widespread, distributed generation grid could look like. This is the most exciting part to us.

— Solar Builder magazine