Solar industry is threatened in California
Utilities commission releases proposal for new rooftop solar rules in California. A couple days ago the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released their proposed decision on net metering, and it's looking like the CPUC has sided with the utilities.
The bottom line: If the proposed decision is approved by the CPUC, it will make solar and batteries too expensive for middle and working class people. The CPUC is scheduled to make a final decision on January 27th.
The decision would take effect four months after the vote in January, meaning it would go into effect in May 2022. This decision is swaying more towards being approved, even after hearing from 120,000 members of the public and over 600 nonprofit organizations, community leaders, affordable housing advocates, faith leaders, elected officials, schools and municipalities.
More analysis to come shortly, but the top-line details of the CPUC's proposed decision are as follows:
1) Highest solar penalty fee in the U.S. If you put solar panels on your rooftop, you will be charged on average $57 / month on average. PG&E customers: $48 / month SCE customers: $60 / month SDG&E customers: $64 / month The only other utilities that charge solar penalty fees this high are in Wyoming and Alabama.
2) Massive cut to the credit solar users receive for the extra energy they produce for the community. Currently, solar users are credited on average twenty-five cents per kilowatt hour for their excess energy. The proposed decision slashes the credit to about five cents per kilowatt hour. This cut would happen right away, with no transition period.
3) These changes will be retroactive on existing solar users. The current 20-year protection for solar users on "NEM1" and "NEM2" will be reduced to 15 years.
The bottom line: Most middle and working class people will not install solar if these changes go into effect. That would cause the rooftop solar market to significantly contract, putting tens of thousands of jobs on the line. Unfortunately the window-dressing in the proposal shows as expected. The CPUC included items intended to make it seem like they are helping more working class people afford solar, but the reality is the latter.
For example, they exempt some low-income people from the solar penalty fee, and also offer a temporary subsidy for ten years (unless you happen to live in SDG&E territory). These items are window-dressing. The CPUC's "incentive" would only partially offset the other changes, making it on the whole worse for working communities than the status quo.
Groups like CALSSA and Protect Our Communities Foundation and Vote Solar have already laid out how to actually increase solar access in working class communities. The CPUC chose to ignore those substantive proposals.
ALL SOLAR PROFESSIONALS NEED TO TAKE ACTION! What we need to do next : The top thing is to flood Governor Newsom's office with calls. Like hundreds every day. His number is 916-445-2841.
A sample message could be: "My name is ___. I live in ____. I am strongly opposed to the rooftop solar proposal released by your Public Utilities Commission. California should not charge people penalty fees for putting solar panels on their rooftop! If you are serious about helping people control their energy bills, avoid blackouts and fight climate change, you need to encourage MORE people to install rooftop solar. Governor Newsom, this is on you. We are watching what you do next. "
More details will come in the following days, along with more resources to mobilize and take action. The fight has now truly begun.
For inspiration, below is a link to some recent editorials to remind you that the facts and the people are on our side. View HERE