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Fight Over Solar Subsidy Tests California’s Climate Commitment

Utilities and others say incentives for rooftop panels are driving up electric bills for poor and working-class families.


Installing solar panels on a home in Lafayette, California.

Installing solar panels on a home in Lafayette, California.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Updated on

The subsidy that helped make residential solar affordable and mainstream in sun-kissed California may have reached its limit.

The state’s biggest utilities are calling on California regulators to reduce the credit customers get for excess electricity they transmit to the grid from their rooftop panels. The utilities, along with consumer advocates and even some environmentalists, contend the incentive makes solar cheaper for those who can already afford the systems but drives up power bills for those who can’t.