On December 1, hundreds of Californians across the state rallied, presumably one last time, to show their support for rooftop solar ahead of the California Public Utilities Commission's December 15 meeting, where they will vote on an anti-solar proposal.
Over the course of two years, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has had a proceeding open to make changes to the state’s net energy metering (NEM) program, with the investor-owned utilities and their surrogates on one side of the isle advocating for drastic cuts to the benefits rooftop solar customers receive while environmental and climate justice organizations, schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, unions, Community Choice Energy providers, consumer protection groups and others on the opposite end advocating to keep rooftop solar growing in California and to make it more accessible.
In December 2021, the CPUC released a proposed decision that included a fee for solar which essentially taxed solar customers simply for having solar interconnected to the grid (and providing local clean energy) and included retroactive changes to current solar customer agreements. Thankfully, our coalition of over 600+ organizations across the state representing millions of people put enough pressure on both the CPUC and Governor Gavin Newsom, which caused the governor to publicly tell Californians that the proposal needed more work. Since then, our coalition has continued to hold numerous rallies, call in to several CPUC voting meetings to make public comments (with some public comment periods lasting over seven hours), hold meetings with elected officials and submitting letters to Governor Newsom.
Finally, last month, the CPUC released their anxiously awaited revised proposed decision, which is still way too extreme and would send solar off of a cliff. The proposal includes a dramatic 75 percent reduction to the credits customers receive for sharing their excess energy with their neighbors. Cutting these credits means solar will not pencil out for nonprofits, schools, churches and working class families across the state. In San Diego where we pay the highest rates in the nation for energy, rooftop solar is the only way for working class families to alleviate the burden of skyrocketing energy costs. Solar and storage is a clean way to provide reliable backup power when the utilities cut off power, which is happening more and more frequently, helping families maintain needed medical equipment while avoiding potentially wasting perishable food.
At the San Diego solar event today, one of 10 in the state held at 11 a.m., activists and solar installers who are concerned over their jobs rallied in front of St. Stephen’s Church of God in Christ, a church that has been a pillar of the community that has just recently installed solar panels to help with the cost of energy bills and be able to reinvest money back into the community. Pastor Glenn McKinney spoke to the CPUC and state leaders directly, “We should be gathering at churches like ours to celebrate going solar, not having to ask state leaders to halt their efforts to make solar less accessible to everyone, especially communities of concern and nonprofit organizations.” He continued by sharing why it's important for rooftop solar to remain an option for communities of concern. “We do not have a robust tree canopy like some communities and it’s getting hotter and hotter here in San Diego where we pay the highest energy rates in the nation. Without rooftop solar, we have no other options than to pay for expensive energy that’s making fossil fuel companies and their shareholders a lot of money while San Diegans are forced to choose to pay their energy bill or medicine or food”.
The CPUC will vote on the proposal on December 15 and our coalition knows the power we have when we stand together and make our voices heard. Please visit helpcleanenergy.org to see how you can help!