347 organizations spanning from business to housing to environmental advocacy groups representing a true grassroots movement, issued a statement of support to protect rooftop solar in California. The open letter signed by a diverse coalition of organizations was sent to Governor Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commission, demanding state leaders keep solar affordable in California. This comes as the Newsom Administration considers changes to “net energy metering” (NEM), the state policy that defines how solar users send energy back to and interact with the electric grid.
Solar power is exceedingly popular in California, in part due to net metering policies that make rooftop solar more affordable, offering benefits to a wide range of consumers. In fact, working and middle-class neighborhoods make up nearly 50% of today’s rooftop solar market.
“80% of Californians support net metering as it is today because it is proving successful and bringing solar to more homes, schools and small businesses,” said Dave Rosenfeld, Executive Director, Solar Rights Alliance. “Net metering is helping bring costs down and making it possible for more people to access the savings, resilience, and other benefits of solar power while also moving California closer to our clean energy goals. Voters of all backgrounds want to continue that progress. They know the utilities do not have their best interests in mind.”
Proposals submitted by the big utilities to gut net metering would drastically reduce the credit solar consumers receive for the excess energy they produce and add a $65-90 monthly solar penalty fee to their energy bills.
Restricting rooftop solar will cost California tens of billions of dollars over time and each ratepayer $295 a year.
“While the big investor owned utilities have money and political influence, our power comes from our diverse coalition representing the needs and desires of environmentalists, conservationists, farmers, students, disabled communities, renters, churches, schools, labor, and small businesses across the state,” said Jessica Tovar, Energy Democracy Organizer with the Local Clean Energy Alliance. “Our grassroots coalition represents California voters from all walks of life, who overwhelmingly support the growth of local solar; like microgrids and oppose the push by investor-owned utilities to increase their own profits by making solar more expensive for everyone.”
By undermining net metering, making solar less affordable for all and dangerously impeding critical clean energy expansion, this policy change is out of step with California’s environmental and clean energy goals and the increasingly dire need for a reliable energy supply in the face of wildfires and grid outage events.
“California is in a climate emergency, with record shattering heat waves, drought and wildfires spreading across the state,” said Laura Deehan, State Director of Environment California. “With so much at stake, California gutting net metering would reverse our trajectory as a leader in solving global warming right when our leadership is needed most.”
The Save California Solar coalition is calling on the CA Public Utilities Commission to strengthen net metering in two ways by making it easier and more affordable for everyone, and increasing battery accessibility for those who go solar, thereby increasing the community benefits of rooftop solar.
“At a time when many of California’s 18 million tenants are just fighting to remain housed, investor-owned utilities are trying to drive up their rates if their building includes rooftop solar,” said Mari Perez-Ruiz, Chair of the California Democratic Party Renters Council. “Renters deserve more rooftop solar, not more bailouts to PG&E, SoCal Gas, and Sempra.”
“Communities of color are those most impacted by climate change,” said Coalition for Environmental Equity and Economics (CEEE) co-founder Rev. Dr. Ambrose Carroll, Sr. “They are the communities that live with the health consequences of environmental hazards, and they lack the resources to quickly bounce back from natural disasters. CEEE has a high sense of urgency to ensure California public policy makes the communities we care about a priority.”