California eyes rooftop solar policy changes. The industry says its future hangs in the balance

A fight over the future of California’s rooftop solar industry is intensifying, as state officials contemplate comprehensive reforms to a program that pays homeowners for clean power they share with the electric grid.

Lawmakers and utility company regulators are weighing whether to sharply reduce bill credits that residents with solar panels attached to their homes receive in exchange for excess energy they generate. Officials are also considering imposing a new monthly charge on them, as well as other changes to the program known as net energy metering.

The proposals’ supporters say residents who have solar panels are being overpaid for their excess energy, allowing them to avoid electric grid costs that run into the billions of dollars statewide. They contend that forces everyone else, including people with fewer means, to foot the bill.

But opponents say many of the policy changes would be little more than a profit grab by investor-owned power companies that could devastate the rooftop solar industry, hampering efforts to decentralize the grid and make it more resistant to wildfire risk and blackouts.