California NEM fight: 400 faith leaders call on governor to preserve rooftop solar value

california state house governor

Over 400 faith leaders and congregants working with California Interfaith Power and Light sent a letter to Governor Newsom and the CA Public Utilities Commission last week calling for the continued growth of rooftop solar in California. California Interfaith Power & Light (CIPL) is among hundreds of organizations that are calling on state leaders to keep solar affordable in California as the Newsom Administration considers changes to “net metering,” the state policy that defines how solar users send energy back to and interact with the electric grid.

“Every major religion has a mandate to care for the environment”, says Susan Stephenson, Executive Director of CIPL. “We have modeled our moral responsibility to address climate change by turning to solar energy in our congregations, and speaking to our communities of faith everyday about the importance of taking action at every level. We also see it as important to bring the concerns of people of faith to policymaking— we need public policies that advance clean energy and limit carbon pollution.”

Schools, public institutions, and houses of worship continue to benefit from adopting zero-carbon energy alternatives in California. 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. The penalty fee would be up to $3,400 a month for schools, churches, and small businesses. By holding back rooftop solar, which is more efficient, the utility profit grab would cost California tens of billions over time and each ratepayer $295 a year.

In addition to their petition, interfaith leaders also met with officials from the Governor’s office, including a Historically Black Church that has adopted solar, a synagogue about to install solar + battery storage to become a resiliency center, and institutions who are keen to adopt solar but are hindered by utility-driven net metering proposals.

“Many of my fellow congregants have adopted rooftop solar,” says Donna Lee, Deacon of Grace Pasadena Church. “While we would love to, the utilities’ proposals are a huge setback for us. This is why I’m joining other faith leaders in meeting officials from the Governor’s office—we want our leaders to know that going solar and protecting net metering is important for our houses of worship.”

California Interfaith Power and Light is part of a coalition of hundreds local and statewide organizations and leaders calling for the expansion of rooftop solar to fight climate change and build a more resilient grid. The 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.

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