Adam Browning: California Utilities Fighting Solar Progress

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Mercury News

Solar energy is one of California's biggest success stories. Homes, schools and businesses are going solar in record numbers. The growing industry now employs 43,000 Californians and has infused $10 billion in private investment into our otherwise limping economy.

Yet California's investor-owned utilities are quietly gearing up for battle against rooftop solar, using fuzzy math to distort the impact of the program that is the backbone of our state's solar energy boom. The interests of a few monopoly utilities should not outshine the rest of us.

In 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the Legislature devised a plan to transform the California solar market. The idea: a one-shot rebate program to build a self-sustaining rooftop solar market with incentives that decline as the industry grows and brings down costs. Central to the plan was a program called net metering that would allow customers investing in solar to get fair credit for clean power they're generating for others to use.

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