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California

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Carve-out: None
Tracking system: Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS)


California's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) and Publicly Owned Municipal Utilities (POUs) that 50% of their retail sales must come from renewable energy by 2030.

The state's "Go Solar California" campaign is in the final stages of a 10-year program. The new successor net metering tariff will increase the cost of interconnection and decrease the income generated from net metering. At least 20 utilities still offer Go Solar California rebates, although rebates have declined significantly by program design and several utility rebate programs have expired. California requires IOUs and large public utilities to offer to buy solar output through a Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff.

Net Metering

California's net-metering regulation applies to all utilities except for utilities with over 750,000 customers that also provide water service. In January 2016, The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) established a successor tariff to its current net metering scheme. The new tariff allows systems larger than 1 MW to become eligible for net metering programs, provided they pay all interconnection fees and upgrade costs deemed necessary by the utility.

The successor net metering tariff, effective either on July 1, 2017 or upon the utility reaching the 5% aggregate customer peak demand limit, will require investor-owned utility customers to pay an interconnection fee ($75-$150), pay all "non-bypassable" charges for all electricity consumed from the grid (approximately $0.02-0.03/kWh), and for residential customers to transfer to a time-of-use rate.

System size limit: 1 MW (5 MW for systems under the bill credit transfer program)

Under successor tariff: No system size cap limit

Aggregate cap: 5% of the utility's aggregate customer peak demand for investor-owned utilities

Credit: Retail rates; Under successor tariff: residential customers move to time-of-use rates.

RECs: Customers retain ownership of RECs consumed on site; RECs generated by electricity receiving net metering credits are transferred to the utility

Meter aggregation: CPUC allows virtual net metering and net energy metering aggregation

Interconnection

CPUC approved a proposed settlement in 2012 to redesign Rule 21. California's Rule 21 applies to systems connecting to an IOU's distribution grid, non-export facilities connecting to an IOU's transmission grid and all net-metered systems within an IOU's service territory. All systems connecting to the transmission grid must apply to the California Independent System Operator for interconnection permission. Utilities can make interconnection requirements for systems connecting to the grid of a municipal or cooperative utility.

Eligible Systems Type of Interconnection
All non-exporting systems or net metering facility Fast track
Exporting facility ≤3MW on a 12 kV or higher voltage interconnection point Fast track
All other systems Detailed study

System size limit: Not specified

Liability insurance: Varies by system size, type, and CPUC levels

External disconnect switch: Varies by utility and system size

Third Party Ownership

Third party solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are allowed in California.

Community Solar

California's Green Tariff Shared Renewables program requires California's three IOUs to ensure sufficient community solar capacity to meet up to 600 MW of customer demand. The program consists of two components: the green tariff, and the enhanced community renewables (ECR) component. Under the green tariff, customers may choose to pay a premium on their electricity bill to participate in a community solar project. Initial estimates of the premium are $0.02-$0.03/kWh. Under the ECR, customers may purchase an ownership stake in a third-party led community solar project. ECR project developers must work with the IOU to determine the appropriate ECR tariff rate for subscriber compensation. The tariff rate must include the avoided cost of generation.

Utilities and third-party developers offer community solar programs in the state.

State Incentive Programs

Program Administrator Incentive
Go Solar California Campaign California PUC, California Energy Commission It is the state's primary solar PV rebate program. The program provided funding for utility-level rebate programs for 10 years. The campaign is implemented at the utility level
Partial Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Agricultural Solar Power Facilities California State Board of Equalization PV systems used to provide power to farm equipment are eligible for a partial exemption for state sales and use taxes
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing California Energy Commission PACE allows property owners to repay loans for solar PV projects through a special assessment on the property over a specified loan term. California implemented a PACE Reserve program in 2010 to lower program costs
Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff (ReMAT) California PUC The state's IOUs and public utilities with 75,000 or more customers are required to offer to purchase customer-generated renewable energy. Systems smaller than 3 MW are eligible for 10-, 15-, or 20-year contracts. Interested system owners must submit a Program Participation Request and accept or reject the utility's proposed ReMAT price (if offered). Program participants transfer all RECs to the utility and are not eligible for other state incentives
School Facility Program Modernization Grants Department of General Services Local school districts with permanent buildings that are 25 years or older and schools with re-locatable buildings that are 20 years or older may be eligible for modernization grants. Modernization grants can be used for several purposes, including investments in electrical systems. Modernization grants require a 40% local contribution

Utility Incentive Programs

In 2007, the CPUC and the California Energy Commission launched the "Go Solar California" campaign. CPUC designed the rebate programs to decline through "steps" as utilities reached certain capacity thresholds. For example, the up-front rebate was designed to decline from $2.50/W in the second step to $0.20/W in the final step of the program for the state's IOUs. As of the release of this report, the state's IOUs had completed all program steps for most customer classes, and only commercial customers in the SDG&E service territory remained eligible for rebates.

The table below summarizes the remaining rebates available as of the time of this research. However, customers should check with their utility to confirm the current status of Go Solar Campaign rebate availability. Utility incentive programs for small systems (>50 kW) only are not included below.

Utility Incentive Limitations
Anaheim Public Utilities $1.10/W Capped at $3,125; <30 kW
$0.11/kWh 30 kW to 1 MW; First five years of production
Azusa Light & Water (expires 12/31/16) $0.51/W Capped at 50% of system cost
City of Healdsburg $0.59/W Capped at $11,800
City of Lompoc Utilities $1.00/W Capped at $50,000 or 50% of system cost; no larger than customers average load over past three years
City of Palo Alto Utilities $1.20/W Small customers <30 kW
$0.15/kWh First five years of production ; small customers >30 kW
Imperial Irrigation District $0.50/W May be reduced based on expected performance; <30 kW
$0.05/kWh Capped at $110,000/year; 30 kW to 300 kW
$0.05/kWh Capped at $110,000/year, rate is prorated according to ratio of system size to 1 MW; 300 kW to 1 MW
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power $0.70/W
($1.45/W government and non-profit)
Capped at 50% of project cost for commercial systems, or 75% of project costs for government and non-profits; <5 MW
(expires 12/31/17)
Lassen Municipal Utility District $1.81/W Capped at $19,000 or 50% of system cost; <50 kW
(expires 01/01/18)
Lodi Electric Utility $1.68/W Capped at $40,000
Merced Irrigation District $1.00/W Capped at $25,000
$0.10/kWh First five years of production; 30 kW to 1 MW
Moreno Valley Electric Utility $1.00/W Capped at $50,000 or 50% of system cost; <30 kW
$0.04/kWh First four years of production; 30 kW to 500 kW
Case-by-case basis 500 kW to 1 MW
Pasadena Water & Power $0.45/W
($0.90/W for tax-exempt entities)
<30 kW
$0.144/kWh
($0.288/kWh for tax-exempt entities)
30 kW to 1 MW
Plumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative $1.68/W Capped at $12,000 for small commercial and non-profits, capped at $20,000 for large commercial and industrial; <25 kW
Riverside Public Utilities $0.50/W Capped at $50,000. Leased systems and PPAs are ineligible
Roseville Electric $0.24/W <10 kW
$0.04/kWh First five years of production; 10 kW to 100 kW
Silicon Valley Power $0.90/W <50 kW
$0.12/kWh First five years of production; 50 kW to 1 MW
Sacramento Municipal Utility District $0.20/W Capped at $200,000
Truckee Donner Public Utility District $2.55/W Capped at $12,750; <1 MW
(expires 12/31/16)
Ukiah Utilities $1.40/W Capped at $25,000; <1 MW

Resources

The list below provides some resources for each type of policy or program. Please reference and contact relevant authorities and local utilities for the most up-to-date and accurate information on state and utility policies and incentive programs.

Renewable Portfolio Standard

Net metering and interconnection

Community solar

Programs and incentives