Editorial: The new plan to slash rooftop solar incentives is better — but still too extreme
Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said his plan was to “transform” state subsidies for rooftop solar by capping their payouts in the lower $40,000.
The governor’s press release, which he later revised to say that he intended to leave the cap in place, did not explain the underlying rationale for making that limit.
But in response to a request for comment from SolarPAC, Newsom said he had made up his mind and the ceiling was the target.
“I had made up my mind before making the announcement but it’s OK if you think something’s wrong with it,” Newsom wrote to SolarPAC via email.
The Newsom report, which was published Friday and made the rounds online, did not indicate that his decision came from conversations with rooftop solar manufacturers or the rooftop industry itself.
As I have previously reported, many of those rooftop solar manufacturers that have worked to get Newsom to drop his proposals have asked him to take them off the table in exchange for a commitment that they would make additional investments in the state’s grid, which would have the effect of increasing the state’s solar capacity.
The Newsom proposal also calls for limiting rooftop solar incentives on individual rooftops, and then allowing a greater share of the benefit to flow to utility-scale solar, which would be financed with public dollars.
That is too extreme a solution, I believe, because it would require utilities to subsidize more new solar installations, and it would force many more people to go without rooftop solar altogether.
I thought it was important to give Newsom the opportunity to rethink the plan, especially because at the time of the governor’s press release, he was facing an immediate deadline to push through the bill he had promised to sign on June 5.
But there is no reason to think Newsom will change course.
It appears, in fact, the Newsom administration is now actively seeking to persuade the Legislature to make it harder for rooftop solar to get any kind of state subsidy. He intends to send legislators — and ultimately his colleagues in the Legislature — a bill calling for the complete