Riverside County Supervisors stand up for solar users

Riverside County Supervisors stand up for solar users

From yesterday's Desert Sun News:

"Riverside County took a big step Tuesday toward ordering the Imperial Irrigation District to bring back a popular rooftop solar program known as net metering, although the county's legal strategy is likely to be challenged in court."

Read the entire article here. This is a great story about the people fighting back against a monopoly utility. In this case, the utility is the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), a municipal utility district.

Despite their origins as a nonprofit public owned entity, too many Munis in California act more like the PGEs of the world than a public benefit institution. Especially when it comes to solar, and especially when it comes to the IID. I

In 2016, the IID Board of Directors abruptly voted to ban net metering. The decision put 1,000 homeowners and businesses that had already invested in solar in financial uncertainty for months, and effectively stalled the region’s fast-growing solar marketplace. [Desert Sun news story]. A subsequent Desert Sun investigation found evidence that district officials ended net metering in order to steer those credits towards projects being built by a private contractor that did significant business with the county. [Desert Sun investigation and editorial]

The IID Board’s decision underscored the anti-democratic system that allowed them to get elected in the first place. For several historical reasons, a majority of the ratepayers served by the District are barred from voting in District elections. This lack of accountability helps explain why an elected board would vote to eliminate a popular program that has little but upside to all ratepayers and the environment.

The Electric Ratepayers Alliance, led by a local installer Vincent Battaglia of Renova, has stubbornly fought back. The Riverside County Supervisor vote yesterday was the culmination of that work.

As the latest news report indicates, there is still several steps to go before net metering is fully restored for all IID customers. But this is an awesome example of what happens when local solar users and supporters get organized.