BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                AB 217
                                                                Page  1

        AB 217 (Bradford)
        As Amended  September 6, 2013
        Majority vote
        |ASSEMBLY:  |54-23|(May 30, 2013)  |SENATE: |27-11|(September 11, |
        |           |     |                |        |     |2013)          |
         Original Committee Reference:    U. & C.  

         SUMMARY  :  Creates a new program that provides rebates for solar  
        installations made by qualified low-income households.   
        Specifically,  this bill  :  

        1)Creates a program to make up to 50 megawatts of rebates available  
          to qualified single-family and multi-family affordable housing.

        2)Funds the program up to $108 million collected from customers of  
          investor-owned utilities (IOU).

        3)Requires eligible participants to enroll in the utility Energy  
          Savings Assistance Program (ESAP).

        4)Requires the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to  
          determine program elements to maximize overall benefit to  

        5)Sunsets the program December 31, 2021.

         The Senate amendments  :  

         1)Specify that the additional collection shall not occur until  
          existing funds available for low-income housing programs are  
          exhausted in that IOU's territory.
         2)Require PUC to ensure the program is designed to maximize the  
          overall benefit to taxpayers instead of ensuring the program is a  
          cost-effective investment for ratepayers. 
         3)Add language to avoid chaptering out issues with AB 102 (Budget  
          Committee), SB 72 (Budget and Fiscal Review Committee), SB 84  
          (Budget and Fiscal Review Committee), and SB 96 (Budget and Fiscal  
          Review Committee) of the current legislative session.  


                                                               AB 217
                                                                Page  2

         FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Senate Appropriations Committee,  
        annual costs of $50,000 from the Public Utilities Reimbursement  
        Account through 2021 for the administration of the low-income  
        programs of the California Solar Initiative (CSI).  In addition,  
        annual costs of approximately $260,000 from General Fund and various  
        special funds for CSI surcharges paid by the state as an IOU  

        1)By extending the surcharge, investor-owned utility customers will  
          pay increased rates of up to $108 million to fund the low-income  
          rebate programs.  

        2)Increased administrative costs of approximately $120,000 to PUC.
        COMMENTS  :

         1)Background  :  Pursuant to SB 1 (Murray), Chapter 132, Statutes of  
          2006, a statewide goal to
          install solar energy systems, with a generation capacity of 3,000  
          megawatts, to make solar energy systems a viable mainstream option  
          for both homes and businesses in 10 years.  This is known as the  
          Go Solar California Campaign and there is a statewide budget of  
          $3.5 billion.  The statewide effort also includes CSI Program  
          which is administered by PUC.  The purpose of CSI is to offer a  
          $2.2 billion ratepayer funded solar rebate program with a goal to  
          install 1,940 megawatts of new solar electric systems on existing  
          homes in investor-owned utility (IOU) service territory by 2015.

          AB 2723 (Pavley), Chapter 864, Statutes of 2006, required PUC to  
          ensure that not less than 10% of the CSI funds are used for the  
          installation of solar energy systems on low-income residential  
          housing and authorized the PUC to incorporate a revolving loan or  
          loan guarantee program for this purpose.  

          Single-family Affordable Solar Home (SASH) Program provides higher  
          incentives for low-income single family homeowners.  SASH is  
          currently implemented by GRID Alternatives (GRID), a non-profit  
          solar contractor.

          Multi-family Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) Program provides  
          higher incentives for low-income multifamily low-income residences  
          and is implemented by the respective IOUs - Pacific Gas and  
          Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and California  
          Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego Gas and Electric  


                                                                AB 217
                                                                Page  3

          territory (SDG&E).  

          SASH and MASH Programs began in 2009 and each has a total budget  
          of $108 million.  
          Both programs were specifically designed to provide appropriate  
          incentives that allowed low-income homeowners and multi-family  
          tenants to benefit from California's growing solar economy.  

         2)Continuing investments in low-income solar programs  :  This bill  
          establishes a low-income
          solar program to continue providing the widespread benefits of the  
          existing programs to families and communities who otherwise would  
          not have access to solar.  The proposed program will be funded at  
          $108 million- which is 50% less than the existing program budget-  
          over seven years.  One of the goals of CSI was to create a  
          sustainable solar market, and this has been occurring for general  
          market customers through lower solar prices and the rise of  
          innovative financing models (lease and power purchase agreements  
          (PPAs)), which have allowed more middle-income folks to invest in  
          solar.  Though solar pricing has decreased since CSI began, the  
          upfront cost of solar will remain a barrier for low-income  
          families and will require additional price support to maintain  
          their access to solar.  

          According to PUC, SASH and MASH Programs have installed  
          approximately 25 megawatts to low-income residences.  As of  
          February 2013, 2,500 single-family homes and over 280 multifamily  
          residences have received solar energy systems through SASH and  
          MASH Programs, respectively. SASH and MASH Programs sunset in  
          2015.  In some territories, the programs anticipate their  
          incentive budgets will be fully reserved well before the programs'  
          sunset date in 2015.  In some areas, the programs may end as early  
          as late 2013.  

        Analysis Prepared by  :    DaVina Flemings / U. & C. / (916) 319-2083 

                                                                 FN: 0002715