California approves community solar program backed by utilities


(Reuters) – The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday approved a new solar energy program that the industry said did not go far enough to incentivize smaller community projects.

The CPUC voted to expand two existing programs and create a third, which was supported by utilities, in a 3 to 1 vote. The new program will be able to tap $250 million in federal funds provided under President Joe Biden’s climate change law, the Inflation Reduction Act.

The update of the community solar program, which was required by state law, was in part meant to expand solar energy to lower-income Californians who may live in apartments or cannot afford rooftop systems.

The decision marked a rejection of a scheme backed by solar project developers, ratepayer advocates, environmental groups and others that would have compensated project subscribers for energy exported to the grid based on the value of the electricity at that time.

The PUC said that proposal would have increased costs for ratepayers not participating in the program.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Chris Reese and Diane Craft)

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