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By Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo
Expanding "Net Metering" Will Allow Schools & Public Buildings to Expand their Solar Energy Systems and Lower Utility Costs
Today I joined representatives from San Mateo Union High School District, students and solar officials to announce the introduction of Assembly Bill 2234 that will allow schools and other public facilities to install larger solar energy systems to lower utility costs. The estimated savings could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars during the next three decades. Savings for schools will free up money to retain teachers and fund critical programs such as music and art.
This will dramatically increase the opportunity for savings at a time when schools, local governments and the state need it the most. Instead of paying companies in Texas for coal generated electricity that's transported hundreds of miles, I'd rather have utilities utilize renewable energy created right here in California which creates green jobs and saves taxpayer money.
Under current law, the state limits the size of solar
system installations on publicly-owned facilities such as schools, colleges,
and local government and state facilities that are eligible for net energy
metering to one megawatt. As a result, large public sector buildings can only
receive the energy bill savings associated with net metering for a small
portion of their electricity usage.
Hill's legislation would increase the net metering system size limit to
5 megawatts for publicly-owned facilities and apply to new and existing
Of the 43 states that have adopted net metering policies, 22 of them do not place a limit on the size of the installation like we do in California. Net Metering is a policy that allows commercial and residential electricity customers to receive credits on their utility bills for on-site renewable energy generation in excess of their electric load that is exported to the state's electric grid. This program contributes to the state's energy supply diversity and to meeting the clean energy mandates under California's Global Warming Solutions Act, AB32.
The extra energy generation authorized under Hill's bill
would allow public facilities to offset their utility bills. As an
example, schools would be given a credit each month for the extra
electricity, offsetting their energy costs during parts of the year when
solar systems do not produce as much electricity.
The San Mateo Union High School District recently completed installation of solar panels on four of its high schools, creating annual savings of more than $1 million. The project will generate roughly 60 percent of the district's total electrical needs while taking the emissions equivalent of 36,000 cars off the road each year by producing clean energy. Hill's legislation will allow the district to produce even more savings in the long term while creating green jobs through increased solar installations.California's solar industry now employs more than 25,000 workers, many of whom lost jobs in the construction industry. Last year, Hill helped pave the way for global solar company SunEdison to move its corporate headquarters from Maryland to Belmont, where the company created hundreds of new jobs. Hill's Assembly Bill 15x1 clarified the types of financing mechanisms that can be used to make it more affordable for people to install solar on their homes and will make the state more competitive in luring solar firms.
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