Posted by: jbarnesca | July 8, 2010

Solar Progams For Fall CPUC Approval

During the early and late fall, the CPUC is scheduled to make final rulings on two very important solar PV programs for California.  On of these is the significant SB 32 FIT bill of Senator Negrete McLeod, and the other is a large expansion of solar PV in a poorly understood proposal.  Let me make some comments on these programs.

In the 2nd Quarter report to the legislature, the CPUC stated that the expansion program was the next to be approved:

The commission will issue a proposed decision in the second or third quarter of 2010 which would expand and refine the Commission’s feed-in-tariff program set forth in Commission Decision (D.) 07-07-027.  Program elements may include changes to eligible project size, price, contract terms and conditions, and the procurement process

There are some positives about this effort from past documents during this long deliberation about this Energy Staff  Proposal.  Although no details about changes have been available for some time, here are some elements from past documents about this effort.

  1. The program size could be 1GW
  2. The application and approval process will be streamlined from the RPS solicitation along the lines of the recent PG&E IPP program
  3. The size could be up to 20MWp for the solar farms
  4. The project viability and other documents might be not so cumbersome.

Now the problem:  This is the program that spurred the major controversy with the RAM(reverse auction mechanism) process for bidding that became the standard for the SCE and PG&E IPP programs. So it is a huge program, but with a reverse auction mechanism for the bids once again.

On to the sort-of normal FIT program SB 32.

This enacted legislative bill has been stalled in enactment since last October for several reasons, and as such there is considerable lobbying and political activity going on to influence the timing and the decision on the “value of solar energy”.  Remember that Senator McLeod allowed the CPUC to set the value for this solar energy at a level above the annual MPR table to reflect the value of solar and SREC value etc etc..

The timing for a decision is now expected in the late fall, and the price is still in great flux.  A wonderful analysis of the value of this renewable source was producted recently by CalSEIA and it showed that the value adder should be at the >$0.05/kWh range.  This is a great report to read and very well done to quantify the components of  value for solar PV.

So in summary the next quarter should see the approval of another expansion of solar PV programs with the Staff Proposal implementation, and the late fall should finally see the decision on the long awaited SB 32 FIT program.  Both will help spur more solar PV in the 3-20MW range for distributed solar generation for California. 

Both programs can produce lots of solar PV in a fast manner with the easier approvals and easier connections from these distributed generation solar projects.



  1. thanks again John for your insight and thoughts on these important issues. Lets all hope that the FIT process can be streamlined and set at an agreeable rate.

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