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New rules for solar start Friday

 April 14, 2023 at 6:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Friday April FOURTEENTH.

If you install solar after today, you’ll earn less for the electricity you generate. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

Senator Dianne Feinstein asked on Wednesday to be temporarily replaced on the Judiciary Committee.

She’s recovering from shingles and didn’t say when she expects to be back..

The announcement comes after two House Democrats called on Feinstein to resign because of her extended absence from Washington.

Her absence has complicated efforts to confirm Biden’s picks for federal courts.

Feinstein is the oldest member of Congress at EIGHTY-NINE years old.

A proposal to move railroad tracks away from the north county coast won’t be cheap…

San Diego congressman Mike Levin took federal railroad administrator Amit Bose (AH-MEET BOZE) on a coastal rail tour of two at-risk bluffs.

One in Del Mar and the other in San Clemente.

“Their operation will be at risk unless we take the actions necessary. Not just for the short term, but for the long term.”

Levin highlighted how coastal erosion and climate change will continue to impact the bluffs and make the relocation project more urgent.

You can visit some of San Diego’s libraries on Sunday’s again.

That’s because the city once again, has the staff.

It’s one of the last steps in bringing library service back to pre-pandemic levels.

FOURTEEN of the city’s THIRTY-SIX libraries will be open Sunday starting this weekend from ONE to FIVE P-M.

For a full list of libraries with Sunday hours, visit KPBS dot ORG.

From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

Californians still considering installing rooftop solar panels will earn less for the electricity they generate. New rules go into effect today (Friday). Environment reporter Erik Anderson says when state regulators made the rule changes in December it sparked a rush to install new systems.

The California Public Utilities Commission ended two years of contentious debate in December when they approved new net energy metering rules.   Solar industry officials warned the new regulations would hurt their businesses, but the rule changes actually prompted people to put solar on roofs. (solar add—fade up under previous track fade out under following track) 00:00:10 – 00:00:20 “The utility companies want to pay you less for what you produce.  It totally goes against California’s goal for more renewable energy.  Now is the time to go solar and lock in your savings.” That “install now before the rules change” pitch worked.  The California Solar and Storage Association’s Bernadette Del Chiaro says the pitch to get a system installed under the older more economically generous rules boosted business by more than 40 percent. Bernadette Del Chiaro / California Solar and Storage Association 00:01:11 – 00:01:31 “A lot of consumers that were previously on the fence, about the…you know, going solar…jumped off that fence and the has been a significant increase in the number of people scrambling to get in under the current existing program because quite frankly the savings are bigger.” Del Chiaro says the industry should stay busy through the summer installing all the solar systems that had an interconnection agreement signed before the deadline. but once the backlog is cleared, she expects solar installations to slow significantly.  California regulators decided against a draconian flat fee proposal for solar users – something opponents called a solar tax – but they approved cutting how much utilities credit customers for electricity generated on rooftops and sold back to the grid.

BDC 00:03:50 – 00:04:03 “They cut the value of the credit, the value on your bill that you get for every electron that you send back to the grid on a sunny day, they cut that by about 75 percent.” Essentially it means residents will have to wait a longer to recover the upfront investment they made on a solar system. That can range from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars.  The rule change caps a fight that generated unprecedented interest in proceedings at the California Public Utilities Commission.  The Solar Rights Alliance’s Dave Rosenfeld says hundreds of local governments and public officials spoke out against the rule changes.  He says there were more than 170-thousand public comments. Dave Rosenfeld / Solar Rights Alliance 00:06:49 – 00:06:57 “overwhelmingly, like 90 to 95 percent of the public comments that went in were saying don’t do it. And they did it anyway. The decision didn’t sit well with a San Diego based group. The Protect Our Communities Foundation worked with the Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Working Group to challenge the ruling. They argued in a legal petition that the CPUC did not follow state law.  Attorney Aaron Stanton says petitioners have waited more than 60 days since filing their objection and they could ask for a judicial review. Aaron Stanton / Environmental Attorney 00:07:14 – 00:07:22 “Legal action, further legal action is an option, but again we’re still focused on just trying to get the commission to change its mind.” The petition points out that state law requires the CPUC to enact rules that encourage solar adoption, make rooftop solar accessible to low-income residents and include all of solar’s benefits in their calculations.  The petition argues the commission failed on all three counts.  The Protect Our Communities Foundation’s Bill Powers says that’s disappointing but not unexpected. Bill Powers / The Protect Our Communities Foundation 00:14:59 – 00:15:18 “The political dynamics are quite meshed in all of this.  And so, it’s really about, in my opinion, the scales of regulation being out of balance.  Meaning the utility has gained almost total control of the process.” Powers is not sold on the Commission’s management of the state’s solar rules but he remains bullish on the technology’s potential. He says solar can help California meet clean energy and climate goals aimed at decarbonizing the state’s economy. 00:11:23 – 00:11:40 “It's remarkably autonomous.  It just does its thing.  There are no moving parts.  It contributes to climate action.  It puts generation exactly where you need to relieve congestion on the transmission and distribution system.” Powers holds out hope that the commission makes changes that comply with state law.  Meanwhile, industry observers worry the new rules will slow California’s nation leading adoption rate of rooftop solar.  They fear a bust after the current mini boom ends. Erik Anderson KPBS News

A proposal to ban homeless encampments on San Diego sidewalks, parks and other public places got its first hearing yesterday.

Reporter Jacob Aere says the land use and housing committee voted to send the proposal to the full council without a recommendation on whether or not it should be passed.

In front of a nearly full room at San Diego city hall Thursday afternoon, the Unauthorized Camping Ordinance got its first hearing by the Land Use and Housing Committee. There were lots of big emotions  … and residents were split on the matter. 

San Diego District 3 Council member Stephen Whitburn proposed the ordinance.

“Residents across our city are deeply concerned about the public health and safety issues created by the proliferation of encampments in their communities. These encampments pose hazards to the people living in them and our neighborhoods.”

Many people and groups came out in opposition to the ordinance including Alliance San Diego. They say it would shut out unhoused San Diegans from almost every single part of the city … and is a violation of the human right to shelter. The Unauthorized Camping Ordinance would have to be approved by the full City Council. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

Social media platforms are the target of a new lawsuit

Education Reporter M.G. Perez has more on the effort to protect children.

The Frantz Law Group of San Diego filed the lawsuit representing 21 school districts across the country…. Locally, they include Coronado and Oceanside Unified. The districts claim the mental health of  their students is being hurt by algorithms social media platforms use to get children hooked. Jade Kolller is one of the attorneys representing them. SOT 6149 07:58:02-07:58:10 “It would help make social media use more healthy and it would be better for children to not be consuming these negative images all the time.” No comment yet from the social media companies named in the lawsuit…they include META owner of Facebook and Instagram, as well as Tik Tok, Snap Chat, Google, and Alphabet which owns YouTube. MGP KPBS News 

The popularity of Artificial Intelligence has caused one of the area's largest tech companies to remodel its mission. Sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge explains why Qualcomm now sees itself as an AI company.

In a promotional video actress Michelle Yeoh walks through a bustling urban landscape at night with a smart phone in hand as she talks to us about a coming transformation. “Every day Qualcomm is transforming the way we work, live and communicate, pushing the limits of technologies like artificial intelligence.” It’s Qualcomm’s way to link itself to AI in the mind of the market. Artificial intelligence is a set of algorithms that evolve as they’re used and can solve problems. Qualcomm’s chief marketing officer Don McGuire says the company’s processing platforms can run AI algorithms on lots of devices. 23-47-40 “Whether our technology is going into a smartphone or whether it’s going into a factory or a robot or a drone flying around Mars, our AI is a horizontal that permeates all of those device categories and applications.” Marketing computer chips to consumers is a challenge. McGuire says he hopes when people buy a device they will ask if it runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon computer chips. SOQ. 

Coming up… From Coachella to Desert X there’s plenty to see this weekend in Southern California’s deserts. We’ll have that story and more, just after the break.

There's an art exhibit at the Mingei International Museum that's dedicated to something you normally see at children’s birthday parties.

Arts producer Julia Dixon Evans gives us a closer look with piñata artist Diana Benavídez.

So this is a piece called is cross border artist. Diana Benavides makes pinata with a message. One. Pinata is an oversized pair of green sneakers with text in Spanish that translates to it's too late to walk alone, written across the toes. And that's usually a phrase that we'll hear from, you know, your mom along with a huge set of keys and a room sized rosary. The shoes represent their rituals and actions taken by women to feel safe. A pinata is inherently violent. You hit it with a stick. But there's also humor and joy and approachability. It's something Benavidez taps into when creating activist art. To me, it makes sense to be able to tell political messages through the pinata.I think it's, it's kind of like a good way to ease in an audience on view at the Mingei right now are over 80 pinatas from artists around the country. The museum recently bought two of Benavides Pinatas for its permanent collection. The shoes and the rosary. It's something unusual for something so temporary since I was 12 where I've wanted a safe pinata and I wanted to find a way to preserve them forever. Julia Dixon Evans K PBS News.

The Mingei's "Piñatas: The High Art of Celebration" closes at the end of the month. An all-ages drop-in piñata making workshop runs ELEVEN A-M TO ONE P-M today (FRIDAY).

Arts producer Julia Dixon Evans also has info on arts events happening this weekend.

She spoke with my colleague Jade Hindmon.

They started by talking about Coachella —So Cal’s most popular music festival.

That was arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans speaking with Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon.

One last weekend event before you go:

South Bay Earth Day is getting an early start on celebrations. The event will be held at Chula Vista Bayfront Park on Saturday from ELEVEN A-M to FOUR P-M. There will be activities, vendors and entertainment, to show Mother Earth some love.

That’s it for the podcast today. This week’s podcast was produced by KPBS Senior Producer Brooke Ruth and Lara McCaffrey. Lara’s normally on our web desk here at KPBS, but we’re thankful that she also helps us out and frequently fills in on the podcast.

As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. And on Monday’s podcast, how rising sea levels are causing flooding in Imperial Beach. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend.

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Californians who install rooftop solar after Friday will now earn less for the electricity they generate thanks to new energy rules kicking in Friday. The solar industry has seen an influx of customers rushing to secure lower rates, but some worry that boom will become a bust. Then, artificial intelligence has caused San Diego-based tech company Qualcomm to remodel its mission. Finally, our local deserts have two major art events — Coachella and Desert X. We’ll have details and tips on how to go.