A plan to do away with subsidies on solar installations in the City of Redding was delayed last Tuesday night by the city council.
Since 2006 the State has required that utilities give an average of $7,700 dollars in rebates to customers who install solar panels. That requirement would go away when the utility reached five percent of its customers.
For the City of Redding that number was reached at the end of 2017.
The requirement that the utility pay customers when they reach a point of net-metering, meaning their meter runs backwards when they are producing more electricity than they are using is also expiring.
However just because they are no longer required to do so does not mean that they must do so. But the City of Redding says it’s losing money and is causing non-solar customers to subsidize solar customers by continuing with the program.
It wants to do away with the program, but many of the 1200 solar customers in the City of Redding like the status quo, and made themselves heard. Council member Michael Daquisto agreed.
“In a sense I call this a solution looking for a problem.” Daquisto said.
He reminded his fellow council members that the city requires a 30 year net-metering contract with solar customers and that doing away with the subsidy would leave them in limbo.
But contract or not, Mayor Julie Winter says the city can’t afford to keep things status quo. Especially with the requirement by the state that all new construction beginning in 2020 have solar installed.
“We have a model right now that’s actually not sustainable” Winter said.
But status quo it is. At least for now. The council will form a committee to take a look at the numbers going forward and see if there is a way to continue subsidizing an industry that some say would dry up if they don’t.
As for those 30 year contracts? They’ll be grandfathered in for the time being. But at some point the newly formed committee will come forward with it’s findings, and then the questions get raised all over again.