California's 'community solar' rules deal latest blow to industry

California regulators have dealt one other blow to the struggling solar industry by imposing rules that renewable energy advocates say could hamper smaller projects.

The rules passed Thursday come greater than a yr after the state, which is basically chargeable for the spread of solar energy, drastically cut incentives for residential systems, resulting in a decline in rooftop installations.

The California Public Utilities Commission rejected that plan, opting as a substitute for one more one supported by the state's utilities that goals to forestall costs from being passed on to Californians who don’t take part in community solar projects.

“We need to be very focused on this downward pressure on electric bills right now because we are in the midst of an electric bill affordability crisis,” said Alice Reynolds, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. “Keeping bills affordable is also key to meeting our climate goals.”

Solar activists say the compensation for project developers under the brand new rules shall be too low to encourage investment in such projects. When an earlier draft of the foundations was released in March, Neil Chatterjee, a Republican former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, wrote to the CPUC that the move could “unsettle markets across the country.”

“Without California, you can't provide the amount of community solar that the federal government wants,” Steve Campbell, western regulatory director for the advocacy group Vote Solar, said in an interview. “Nationally, California is critical.”

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