Last Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the most progressive solar water heating legislation in any state. It’s called the California Solar Water Heating and Efficiency Act of 2007. This new law will provide consumer incentives in the form of rebates to those installing solar water heaters for their homes or businesses. Specifically, a fund of $250 Million dollars will be appropriated from a 13 cent per month surcharge on natural gas bills and disbursed over 10 years. This initiative contributes to the goal of getting 200,000 units installed on California roofs by 2017. While Schwarzengger is a Republican, not one single Republican in either houses of the state legislature voted for the approval of this bill (AB 1470). The main question I have is, why the hell not? The list of supporters of this bill is on the right.
More and more, I’m thinking that if you’re a Republican, you’ve probably sold your soul to a conglomerate of corporations who have promised as many golf tournaments, colorful retirement parachutes, and ham hock dinners as one could engorge themselves with so that you might be able to forget the fact that you are supposed to serve the best interests of your constituents instead of large, environmentally destructive corporations. I don’t care how red your precinct might actually be if you’re a California state legislator. The fact that all of those groups listed below rose in strong support of this bill and not one republican legislator voted for it is freaking ridiculous.
A report from the Environment California Research and Policy Center estimates that the law could curb the demand for natural gas in the state by about 5%. While that may not sound like a whole lot, that cut in demand could equate to a 25-35% reduction in wholesale natural gas prices – to the benefit of every consumer.The law just makes sense: California predominately uses natural gas to meet water heating needs and solar water heating can reduce the amount of gas needed to heat water in homes and businesses by 50-75%!
Main Features of the program:
- Goal set of installing 200,000 solar water heating systems by 2017
- Establishment of eligibility for qualified solar water heating systems
- Establishment of installation guidelines
- 10 percent of funds set aside for low-income and affordable housing projects
- A declining rebate program with performance-based incentives.
- Funding through a surcharge on natural gas customers based on the amount of natural gas consumed.
Full Text of the California Solar Water Heating and Efficiency Act of 2007 – signed into law October 12, 2007
Solar Water Heating: How California Can Reduce Its Dependence on Natural Gas – by Environment California Research & Policy Center
Last modified: October 15, 2007