New Solar Energy Act
Politicians from New Jersey and California - probably the two friendliest residential solar energy states in America - have written a new Act designed to protect consumer's rights to install and receive benefit from residential solar systems.
This type of legislation is critical to future growth in alternative energy usage. Not only does it make sense to protect the rights of Americans who are willing to spend more for clean, renewable energy ... it also sends a signal to businesses up and down the entire supply chain that demand for solar energy is protected looking out into the future. This, in turn, will lead to investment and ultimately to lower costs for solar power.
Solar power is a beautiful thing, but it is still way too expensive to go mainstream. Efficiency gains and cost reduction have to come as soon as possible - or else we'll run out of time to scale up installations. And that would be a shame, since solar should be part of the solution to weaning ourselves off fossil fuels, especially with regard to residential power.
I'm liking the direction this new Congress is pointing the country. Let's hope this legislation passes into law.
The legislation contains the following provisions:
Net Metering: Requires utilities, within 1 year of the date of enactment, to provide net metering for customer-owned solar power systems up to 2 MW in size at retail electric rates. Ownership of renewable energy credits (RECs) resides with the solar system owner for purposes of selling or trading to meet a state or federal renewable portfolio standard (RPS)
Interconnection: Requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, within 1 year of the date of enactment, to publish model standards for physical connection between the electric grid and customer-owned solar systems up to 20 MW in size. The model standards shall have separate expedited procedures for systems under 15 kW and for systems between 15 kW and 2 MW.
Solar Siting Rights: Instructs the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to issue regulations within 180 days of the law's enactment that 1) prohibit any private covenant, contract provision, lease provision, homeowners' association rule or bylaw, or similar restriction that impairs homeowners' ability to install and use a solar energy system and 2) expedite the approval, where such approval is required, of applications to install systems.
Cap on Permitting and Licensing Fees: Requires that permitting and licensing fee costs are $500 or less for residential installations, and $10,000 or less for commercial installations.
Renewable Energy Contracts for Federal Agencies: Allows federal agencies to enter into power purchase agreements with renewable energy providers for up to 30 years.