California Assembly Bill 327 (AB327), signed into law October 7th, 2013, drew fire from solar and energy efficiency proponents, The Sierra Club, and other environmental groups over the rate-setting powers it would give the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). These opponents worry that the bill allows changes in rate and regulatory structure that could discourage renewable energy investment in California. However, local governments, industry groups, utilities and some consumer groups argue these same powers could, used wisely, make electricity rates more equitable, protect consumers and help utilities adapt to an increasingly renewable and distributed grid. Climate Policy Initiative’s analysis suggests they could also create a very fertile and cost-effective environment for renewable energy for years to come.
AB327 allows the extension of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and requires the extension of the Net Energy Metering program, both of which Climate Policy Initiative analysis has shown to be significant drivers of renewable energy growth in California. Many of the details of their implementation are left to the CPUC, though, and these details will decide the ultimate impact of AB327 on renewable energy in California.