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California Utilities Propose New Rooftop Solar Installations

California’s three big investor-owned utilities proposed to change the state’s Rooftop Solar program. People would have to pay new connection charges. Lower compensation will be provided for customers who install panels on their homes. On Monday, PG&E Corp., Edison International’s Southern California Edison, and Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric filed a joint proposal.

The proposal was filed with the state regulators considering their amendments to the state’s Rooftop Solar policies this year. The policy will only affect the new installations. The “unfair and growing inequity” in the state policy is addressed in the utility plan. It has resulted in the customers without rooftop systems paying nearly $3 billion more annually in their electricity bills. This will allow them to subsidize existing rooftop customers.

The announcement dragged down the rooftop installers’ stocks. On Tuesday, shares of Sunrun Inc., the biggest U.S. residential solar company, slid 8.6%. Also, the SunPower Corp. shares dropped 8%.

The executive director of the California Solar and Storage Assn., Bernadette Del Chiaro, said in a statement, “California is a solar state, but the utilities want to own the sun and keep it out of the hands of everyday people. Their need to increase profits cuts against the consumer’s right to choose where and how to generate clean, reliable energy where we live, work, and play.”

An incentive program, almost 25 years old that pays residents for their excess clean power has led to more than 1 million installations. California turned into a global green energy leader after this initiative. This also helped spur an industry of Rooftop Solar installation companies.

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