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Bill Would Give Solar Users Chance to Sell Power

Excess Energy Could Be Sold To Utilities

Audio

Aired 6/9/09

A bill in the California State Senate would allow people who own solar-powered homes and businesses to sell excess power back to utilities.

A bill in the California State Senate would allow people who own solar-powered homes and businesses to sell excess power back to utilities.

Environment California is sponsoring the legislation.

The group's Bernadette Del Chiaro says if the bill becomes law, it would reduce the disincentive for many Californians' to invest in solar power and encourage conservation and energy efficiency.

"Homeowners and businesses that own a solar power system that generates more electricity than their home or business uses during the year should be able to get paid for that electricity by their utility company," Del Chiaro says. "And then the utility company in return gets to count that electricity toward their renewable energy goals."

California's renewable standard requires publicly-owned utilities to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources such as solar and wind by the end of next year.

The bill would allow the compensation level to be set by the state Public Utilities Commission.

Under current law consumers with solar panels can reduce their utility bill to $0 through what is called "net metering" where consumers get a credit for all the electricity generated by their system during the day.

If the consumer generates a surplus amount of power at the end of the year that electricity goes to the utility for free.

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