A California appeals court will hear a challenge to the state’s new solar rules this week.
Three environmental groups, the San Diego-based Protect Our Communities Foundation, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Working Group asked the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco to force California regulators to reconsider the new rules for rooftop solar.
The legal challenge argues that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) violated the state’s public utility code when it approved the rule changes.
The groups say the CPUC has failed to support solar in disadvantaged communities, failed to account for all the benefits of rooftop solar and failed to ensure that the solar industry grows sustainably.
All items are required by the California Public Utilities Code.
It is rare for a CPUC decision to be challenged in court, as petitioners cannot sue the CPUC if they disagree with the commissioners’ decision.
“For the Public Utilities Commission decision you have to go straight to the appeals court and the appeals court has discretion as to whether they decide to hear the case,” said Aaron Stanton, an attorney for the groups of environment. “In this case, the appellate court uses its discretion to hear the case. And therefore, the oral argument and the hearing of the case will be December 13.
No new evidence will be presented to the judge during oral arguments.
“The hearing is an opportunity for both sides to present their strongest case and also to answer any questions the judges may have about the legal theories. About the evidence on the record,” said Stanton.
The court can force the regulators to reconsider their decision or let the decision be upheld. It is unclear when a ruling will be issued.