Assembly Committee Approves Key Becker Legislation to Treat Schools, and Apartments Fairly when it Comes to Solar

Sacramento, CA—Yesterday, the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy voted in favor of SB 1374, authored by Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park), which restores the ability for utility customers with on-site solar generation to be credited for self-consuming that electricity in the same way as single family homeowners, even when the solar generation and electricity consumption are split between separate meters on the same property. 

For example, a school may have solar generated over its parking lot that is separately metered from the electricity being used by the classrooms. Today, that solar energy is considered “exported” to the utility and compensated at only a very low price while the electricity for the classroom is simultaneously being purchased from the utility at a much higher price. SB 1374 will make sure that the school is fairly compensated by netting out generation and consumption occurring during the same time period across the multiple meters at that same school site, rather than treating all the solar energy as exported. By doing so, the bill will ensure that all utility customers, including apartment buildings, schools, community colleges, universities, water agencies, city facilities, and shopping centers with on-site generation are given fair and equal treatment for the energy that they self-consume. Farms and non-profit organizations and religious institutions would also benefit from this bill subject to a determination from the California Public Utilities Commission. 

“SB 1374 removes a burdensome barrier and restores the ability for customers to self-consume the energy they produce on their property,” said Becker. “This bill is simply a matter of fairness. Multiple-metered customers should get the same treatment as everyone else – not have to sell their power to the utility at low prices and immediately buy it back at much higher retail prices.”

“California cannot meet its carbon emission reduction goals without properly supporting our over 10,000 school sites through the transition to clean energy,” said Nancy Chaires Espinoza, Executive Director of the School Energy Coalition. “Schools are ready to be a part of bringing about a healthier and safer environment for our students and all Californians. In order to do that, we just need lawmakers to treat us fairly and align the rules to their own stated goals, such as AB 32. We thank the members of the Assembly Committee who supported this bill today.”

“California schools represent 730 million square feet of buildings, and it’s where our 6 million children spend most of their waking hours. We must ensure our schools are resilient to the increasingly frequent and long-lasting impacts of climate change, and that our kids can stay in school and continue learning despite these disruptions. Solar energy and battery storage are critical to protecting learning time, and they’re critical to meeting our state’s clean energy and climate adaptation goals. We need it to pencil out for schools,” said Stephanie Seidmon, Program Director of UndauntedK12.

“Public schools have one general fund that everything comes out of: teachers’ salaries, textbooks, mental health counselors, utility bills-–it all comes out of the same bucket. Oakland’s electricity bills have increased by $1.5 million dollars over the last year alone. That’s $1.5 million that’s not going to hire support staff for our students with disabilities or to provide services for our students experiencing homelessness or to create a new Algebra 1 class for our students to have smaller class sizes. In previous years, we used solar energy to offset these rising costs and invest the savings in programs that improve educational equity. Restoring and protecting these incentives is critical to ensuring all students receive the education they need to thrive,” said Sam Davis, Oakland Unified School District Board President.

SB 1374 requires the CPUC to update its tariffs for situations with multiple meters to give credit for self-consumption in an equivalent way to how self-consumption is handled for single-family homes and non-residential customers with a single meter. It only requires that all customers are treated fairly and equally in their ability to self-consume their own on-site generation. By doing so, it will restore the ability for apartment buildings, schools, community colleges, universities, water agencies, city facilities, shopping centers and other qualifying buildings and properties to save on energy costs by installing solar and energy storage, while accelerating the state’s transition to clean energy.

SB 1374 is sponsored by the School Energy Coalition and UndauntedK12 and is supported by an extensive and diverse coalition of environmental organizations, businesses, farmers, and schools, and others. It now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration.