Since I last wrote to you, much has happened in my solar world. The outlook for solar was quite gloomy at the beginning of 2015. We (Californians) expected net energy metering (NEM) to sunset in 2016/2017 – see current and projected levels here; we expected it to be replaced by an ineffectual successor tariff. We weren’t sure if meter aggregation (NEMA) and virtual net metering (NEMV) would be available under the successor tariff. The utilities were, and still are, lobbying hard to end these programs.

At the federal level, the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar was scheduled to revert to 10% from 30% after December 31, 2016.

Fortunately then, solar advocates awoke to the realization that there was no need for long faces and gloomy outlooks. Solar had enough broad based support that we could create a more current and meaningful frame of reference to argue for the continuation of these programs. SEIA and an impressive coalition of solar champions showed legislators in Washington and regulators in California, respectively, just why they should support solar. As a result:

  • Congress extended the ITC by 5 years.
  • The CPUC issued a draft decision essentially retaining NEM, NEMA, and NEMV. The utilities are lobbying against this draft decision. The CPUC needs to hear from supporters of the draft decision. We want the commissioners to ratify it as is on the 28th of January.

I submitted comments in support of NEMA and NEMV and suggested how customers’ post-solar bills could be made easier to compute and understand. My comments were universally ignored! I’ll wait until the dust has settled before asking why, if they are not my wife, they are giving me the silent treatment.

Meanwhile, here in Napa County, we are making headway with our transition to renewable energy. Residents of unincorporated Napa County joined Marin Clean Energy (MCE) in February. The cities of American Canyon, Calistoga, and St. Helena adopted resolutions in November requesting membership in MCE. The city of Napa and town of Yountville are expected to follow suit by the end of the Q1, 2016.

The outlook for California and solar in 2016 is lots of sunshine, rain, and both together. Sun showers means rainbows! Rainbows mean pots of gold!! I hope you find both and have a Happy Life in 2016 and beyond!!!