CPUC Adopts Solar Programs to Invest in Disadvantaged Communities

SAN FRANCISCO, June 21, 2018 – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in its ongoing efforts to help improve air quality and economic conditions in disadvantaged communities, today adopted three new programs to promote the installation of solar energy  to serve customers in disadvantaged communities.

“Transitioning to a clean economy must include all Californians. Targeting solar investments in low income and disadvantaged communities will help ensure that all Californians have access to all the benefits of solar, whether on their roofs or nearby in their neighborhoods,” said Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves.

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The programs approved today are:

  • The Disadvantaged Communities – Single-family Solar Homes (DAC-SASH) program, modeled after the existing Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Program, will provide up-front financial incentives towards the installation of solar systems for low income homeowners.  The program will be available to low income customers who are resident-owners of single-family homes in disadvantaged communities. The incentives will assist low income customers in overcoming barriers to the installation of solar energy, such as a lack of up-front capital or credit needed to finance solar installation.
  • The Disadvantaged Communities – Green Tariff (DAC-Green Tariff) program will provide a 20 percent bill discount to customers in disadvantaged communities.  This will allow customers to choose clean energy options without the need to own their home and without the cost of installing their own solar systems. The program is modeled after the existing Green Tariff portion of the Green Tariff/Shared Renewables Programs.  It will be available to customers who meet the income eligibility requirements for the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) and Family Electric Rate Assistance programs.
  • The Community Solar Green Tariff program is similar to the DAC Green Tariff program, and will also provide a 20 percent bill discount.  This program will allow primarily low income customers in disadvantaged communities to benefit from the development of solar generation projects located in or near their communities.  The communities will work with a local non-profit or local government “sponsor” to organize community interest and present siting locations to the utility; the sponsor can also receive an incentive for its efforts.

“This is an important step toward making sure that the benefits of our clean energy programs are realized by all Californians,” said Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen.

Both the DAC-SASH and DAC-Green Tariff programs will be funded first through greenhouse gas allowance proceeds.  If such funds are exhausted, the programs would be funded through public purpose program funds.

“This is a critical step towards ensuring that the most impacted communities can participate in California’s growing clean energy economy in a way that helps residents financially, while also protecting our environment,” said Strategic Growth Council Executive Director Randall Winston. “We look forward to helping align these new programs with existing cap-and-trade investments as we work to achieve more sustainable, equitable growth.”

Assembly Bill (AB) 327 (Perea, Stats. 2013, ch. 611) directed the CPUC to develop a standard contract or tariff applicable to customer-generators with renewable electrical generation, as a successor to then-existing Net Energy Metering tariffs, and, as a part of this mandate, required the CPUC to develop specific alternatives designed to increase adoption of renewable generation in disadvantaged communities.

The CPUC previously adopted a Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program, which provides one avenue for certain low income customers to access clean solar electric generation, with a special provision to increase solar installation in disadvantaged communities.

Along with SOMAH, the three programs adopted today represent additional tools to facilitate the installation of renewable generation to differently situated customers in disadvantaged communities, and are intended to provide a comparable set of renewable programs to residential low income customers that residential general market customers can afford or access.

The proposal voted on is available at: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M216/K736/216736432.PDF.

The CPUC regulates services and utilities, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services.  For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.