Leaders call on California to block controversial solar power proposal – NBC Bay Area

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Elected officials and school leaders in Alameda County are calling on the state to block a controversial proposal that could prevent California schools from embracing solar power.

School board officials in Oakland and state leaders want the state to reject the proposal that they say would spike solar costs on rooftops and parking lots and ultimately take money away from Oakland classrooms.

“It’s baffling that anyone would make solar projects more difficult rather than easier at this very urgent time,” Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) board member Sam Davis said.

Critics say under the new proposal schools and other sites that have solar and more than one electricity meter would be required to sell the energy they produce back to their utility and then buy it back at a much higher rate.

“This proposal is discriminatory because it effectively consigns these renters – schools, farms, resiliency hubs, community centers, health clinics and more – to second-class citizenship compared to single-family homeowners,” Igor Tregub with Reimagine Power said.

A 2022 study by the California Solar and Storage Association estimates the decision would reduce compensation by 75%, making it far less attractive for schools to go solar.

Currently, 28 of OUSD’s 78 schools and sites are in the process of getting solar panels.

If the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) passes the proposal, OUSD’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2036 could be in jeopardy

“To have a hit like this to our budget means those dollars are going to have to come from some place else,” OUSD board President Mike Hutchinson said. “If they are coming from the general fund, that means those dollars are directly going to hurt our ability to provide the education that we need to provide.”

The CPUC did not respond to NBC Bay Area’s request for comment but has previously said the proposal is meant to enhance solar consumer protections and would only apply to future customers.

But if costs surge, Assemblymember Mia Bonta worries it will impact the state’s fight to combat climate change.

“Affordability is fundamental in order to move forward with green infrastructure,” she said.

State utility commissioners are expected to vote on the proposal Oct. 12.

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