Partisan divide stalls California’s solar-roofs bill

As its initial bipartisan support devolves into a partisan food fight, California’s Million Solar Roofs legislation may die on the vine. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) withdrew his formerly enthusiastic backing for the bill — which could put $2 billion toward solar-energy generation by 2019 — after Assembly Democrats inserted labor-friendly amendments. They would require union-scale wages for workers on commercial and industrial installations, and stipulate that future solar installers be licensed electricians, a level of expertise some in the industry consider excessive. State Republicans — including Sen. John Campbell, an original coauthor of the bill — say the amendments could increase solar-installation costs by 30 percent. State Democrats say they just want to ensure living wages, and anyway, the changes are negligible because most workers on large installations already receive a “prevailing wage.” Each side says the other has to make a move before negotiations on the bill can proceed.

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