Page 20 - North American Clean Energy November/December 2018 Issue
P. 20

 solar energy
California’s New Programs Advance Residential Solar
by Gary Liardon
recently, when the state government adopted new policies to establish a more progressive foundation for the use of solar power in residential buildings. It’s all part and parcel of its pioneering “net-zero” mission.
The most recent policy, SB 700, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, extends California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) for an additional five years, from the current January 1, 2021 expiration date, until January 1, 2026. The SGIP provides substantial rebates to home owners, through the state Public Utilities Commission, for installing of energy storage systems that save solar power for use during off hours.
SB 700’S Path Forward
By storing solar generated power, the rapidly growing residential battery marketplace gives homeowners important benefits:
1. A storage system protects homeowners from solar downtime due to a utility operating problem (e.g. brown or blackout), or a long period without sun.
2. As demand increases, costs will decrease - the more battery systems that are sold, the lower the cost to builders and consumers.
3. By combining solar systems and storage batteries with “smart” software, homeowners can create intelligent home energy management systems that analyze historical energy consumption trends, develop efficiency recommendations that include the exact combination of stored and renewable energy required to power a home, and limit energy demand.
4. In some states, a homeowner can benefit economically by storing excess power generated by the solar system, and then sell it back to their utility.
On a macro level, storage battery technology offers electric utilities the opportunity to create a smarter power grid that can give the utility better control over managing peak demand, thus reducing the need for new and costly generation plants to cover that demand. Considering all the changes required by utilities and regulatory agencies as these entities respond to the new energy age, this transformational storage technology provides energy producers more creative ways to connect with home builders and home owners, giving them greater control over their efforts to save money, while being environmentally friendly.
SB 700 brings us to the forefront of new energy partnerships that advance solar adoption. The energy storage market is being driven by improved energy efficiency, the declining cost of solar equipment, and higher capacity energy storage. All of which create a huge benefit for consumers.
Full Court Solar Energy
California has been a leading proponent of solar power for
the past decade. Its net-zero mission dates to 2007, when the Energy Commission declared that “newly constructed buildings can be net zero energy by 2020 for residences and by 2030 for commercial buildings.” Under this policy, solar energy was considered one component of building more energy efficient homes -- but was not required.
In May 2018, the California Energy Commission (CEC) adopted the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. This new solar mandate will apply to all houses, condos and apartment buildings (up to three stories) that secure building permits
after January 1, 2020, making solar energy systems standard
on virtually every new home built in California. “California is about to take a quantum leap in energy standards,” states Robert Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association. “No other state in the nation mandates solar, and we are about to take that leap.” As solar costs fall with rising demand, other energy progressive states such as New Jersey, Colorado, and Virginia are expected to follow California’s lead.

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