Cardoza calls for removing barriers stalling home solar installation
April 21, 2011
• Says Congress could help energy independence and lower utility bills
• ‘A win for Valley homeowners who want to save on their utility bills’
Legislation that would protect the rights of homeowners to generate their own renewable electricity through solar power has been reintroduced in Congress by Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced.
The proposed “Solar Opportunity and Local Access Rights (SOLAR) Act” would cut through the bureaucratic red tape currently preventing many homeowners from producing their own solar power, giving them greater energy independence and potentially significantly reducing their utility bills, the congressman says.
The bill (H.R. 1598) would mandate the ability of residential solar customers to sell excess electricity back to the grid, reduce barriers to solar power infrastructure implementation, and create a Center for Advanced Solar Research to develop solar technology and help create new green energy jobs.
“The SOLAR Act is a win for Valley homeowners who want to save on their utility bills, while also doing their part for healthier air by generating clean, renewable energy,” says Mr. Cardoza. “My bill is also a cost-saver for traditional utility consumers, since the extra midday power sent back to the grid by home solar systems would reduce the need for utility companies to make expensive peak-hour electricity purchases to meet demand.”
The bill would provide for “net metering” of energy generated from residential and commercial solar energy installations. Net metering allows homeowners the opportunity to produce their own power through solar panels and other renewable sources and then sell any excess electricity back to the utility grid. When homeowners produce excess power, they sell it to the utility company over the power grid. When they need additional power, they purchase it from the utility company off the grid. Net metering tracks the production and purchase and calculates the difference, so homeowners are credited for the energy they contribute to the grid.
While 43 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have adopted a net metering policy, there is currently no national guidance. Varying state regulations make it difficult for companies to develop efficient, uniform practices for handling customer-sited solar power generation.
Mr. Cardoza says his measure would prohibit practices that discourage or prevent the use of solar technology. It would remove barriers to solar energy usage and streamline the installation process by preventing local and state governments from charging exorbitant permitting fees for solar energy installations. The bill would also prohibit homeowners associations from denying residential access to solar energy systems.
Mr. Cardoza originally introduced the SOLAR Act in 2007 during the 110th Congress. Significant portions of the bill were included in the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), comprehensive renewable energy legislation passed by the House of Representatives in 2009. The Senate failed to pass H.R. 2454 before the end of the 111th Congress, so Mr. Cardoza is renewing his push in the 112th Congress to pass the SOLAR Act.