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California utility regulators approve major changes to rooftop solar regulations

California utility regulators have approved major changes to the state’s rooftop solar market.

The move could have far-reaching implications for the industry as a whole.

California leads the nation in rooftop solar, in part because it allows customers to sell excess power to their utility company, a process known as net metering.

That program was popular with consumers, who could pay for solar panels in five to seven years.

But fossil fuels take over at night, and so regulators changed the rules to benefit customers who invest in battery storage, not just solar panels.

Bernadette Del Chiaro of the California Solar and Storage Association said regulators faced pressure from utilities.

“They were under intense pressure, as was the governor, to make dramatic changes to net metering, because people are going solar by the droves,” Del Chiaro said.

Arizona utility companies do not offer net metering, though consumer advocates and conservationists have lobbied for it.

Ron Dungan has lived in Arizona for more than 35 years. He has worked as a reporter, construction worker, copy editor, designer and freelance writer. He's a graduate of the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the undergraduate Writers’ Workshop, and has a master’s in history from Arizona State University.Dungan was an outdoors reporter and member of the storyteller team at the Arizona Republic, where he won several awards, and was a contributor on a border project that won the 2018 Pulitzer for explanatory reporting.When not working, Dungan enjoys books, gardening, hanging out with his German shorthaired pointer, backpacking and fly-fishing. He's a fan of the Arizona Cardinals and Iowa Hawkeyes.