California just passed two new fantastic solar bills. The first bill requires utility companies to pay customers for any surplus electricity that they produce from solar or wind power. The second bill requires the utility companies to buy at the same rate they pay for conventional power from wholesalers.
Why are these two laws important? When installing solar on your house, yesterday you needed to estimate how much electricity your household used and would use per year and make sure you do not install above that amount. Any additional electricity would be given to the utility for free. As of 2011 in California, the utilities will be required to pay for the extra energy.
These laws are important for a few reasons. First, solar installers can breathe easier and install as much energy as they anticipate needing. Household energy use is not static over the years: household sizes change, appliances change, and electric cars are installed. These laws will help the homeowner through these changes.
Secondly, these laws also provide incentives for solar homeowners with excess capacity to continue to save electricity. Otherwise, some solar power owners may choose to be frivolous users of their excess electricity. In my earlier miles per dollar post, I wrote that in 2008, I gave PG&E $155 worth of free energy.
The San Jose Mercury News covered these laws in more detail.