County hopes new bill will spur home solar, wind

   Owners of home solar and wind energy systems that generate extra kilowatts can soon turn those surplus electrons into compensation, thanks to new legislation signed by the governor this week.

   Assembly Bill 920, which earned strong backing from Chairwoman Dianne Jacob and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, allows electric utility customers who install solar or wind generation systems on their properties to be paid by their electric utility for the surplus electricity they produce.

   “The governor is to be commended for giving green-minded San Diegans a fair return on their investment,” said Jacob, who brought the matter to the supervisors in November 2008. “The utilities have been allowed to profit from the investments of home solar and wind customers for long enough.”

   In the past, for generation systems of up to one megawatt, the surplus was carried forward on a customer’s bill for 12 months. Any yearly excess went to the utility.

   Jacob said California’s new legislation has the potential to drive many more homeowners to invest in home solar and home wind.

   “If you couple the benefits of AB 920 with the county efforts to roll out a program to help San Diegans afford the upfront costs of home solar and wind systems, you’ve got all the ingredients necessary for a residential renewable boom,” said Jacob. “The benefits of that boom will be far-reaching. We can clean the air, create jobs, stimulate the economy and lessen the nation’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.”

   Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Minnesota and other states compensate residential photovoltaic (PV) customers for surplus power. In Oregon, credit from some surplus solar is granted to customers enrolled in the state’s low-income assistance programs, according to Jacob.

   
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