California touts change in wind-down of rooftop solar program for residents

The state of California plans to introduce revisions to its aggressive renewable energy program for rooftop solar arrays and other rooftop sources of electricity, sources told Fox News.

The change, which will be announced Wednesday, will signal an about-face in Sacramento, where rooftop solar was thrust into the spotlight after California Governor Jerry Brown proposed massive changes to existing policy in August.

Under current regulations, California residents and businesses that choose to generate their own electricity are compensated for their electricity under terms similar to cable operators and phone companies.

Critics say the program was never intended to be this lucrative.

The state wants to reduce the benefits of rooftop solar to make a “net-metering” program, where homeowners and businesses receive revenue for the electricity they generate, a more competitive industry.

“Regulators are concerned that California’s rooftop solar subsidies have become a disincentive for customers to transition to cleaner energy sources,” sources told Fox News.

Brown is a staunch advocate of renewable energy.

“I strongly support California’s aggressive renewable energy efforts,” Brown said. “Net metering is a great idea that has worked well in other states. Allowing residents to sell their excess electricity back to the grid and get paid for it is a terrific way to encourage citizens to expand their energy use in a responsible way.”

Currently, rooftop solar systems are available free or with a 30 percent discount. A company called Net Metering Systems said in September it secured more than 6,000 net metering contracts that will add over 30,000 megawatts of additional solar capacity statewide in the next few years. The company calls itself the “startup solar leader” in California and “the largest rooftop solar provider in the state.”

The revised rules are expected to cut the incentives for residents and businesses to generate their own electricity.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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