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The Solar Tax is Back and It's Not Looking Good for the Working Class

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) basically announced that the are back to pushing the implementation of Solar Tax. During their last announcement, the CPUC asked for input into three ideas they are considering. These ideas announced to the public should effectively be treated as new proposals.

Recap: the CPUC’s original proposal in December

"The CPUC proposed in December changes to “net energy metering” that included a $700 per year Solar Tax, deep cuts to the credit solar users receive for sharing their extra energy with the grid, and to weaken protections on existing solar users. The proposal would have effectively doubled the cost of going solar, put solar out of reach for most consumers, and threatened 70,000 good-paying solar jobs." - Solar Rights Alliance

The CPUC failed to listen to advocates for working class communities. These communities simply wanted a fix for their community solar program. Instead, the CPUC is floating a bait and switch by proposing "alternatives" that will leave working class families no better off in just a few years.

During their most recent public announcement, the CPUC asks for input for the following three ideas they are considering:

1) A Solar Tax The CPUC’s new proposed Solar Tax would be based on the amount of energy you make and use to power your home or business. Under this new Solar Tax, the average solar user would pay between $300 and $600. CPUC is proposing to tax people SIMPLY for investing in and using solar energy.

This is exactly like taxing people who hang-dry their clothing instead of running the dryer.

2) A “glidepath” that would only make solar unaffordable for middle and working class people, proposed by the utilities’ consultants It's no secret that conflicts of interest and revolving doors are normal for the CPUC decisions. There are many conficts of interests for the CPUC: The following information was derived from The Solar Rights Alliance:

  • The CPUC also paid the Energy Institute at the Berkeley Haas School of Business $1 million to do research on rooftop solar’s costs and benefits at the same time the Energy Institute took $230,000 from the utilities (see the public records request).

  • PG&E’s current lead lobbyist to the CPUC? Former CPUC commissioner Carla Peterman.

  • Sempra Energy’s newest lobbyist? Former CPUC President Marybel Batjer who was just hired by California Strategies, one of Sempra’s key lobbying firms.

3) Another bait and switch. This would obligate low-income households to contribute to the monopoly’s expensive energy It comes to show that if the CPUC genuinely cared about working class people, they would do a true community solar program. An authentic community solar program lets people buy, lease or rent solar panels at a nearby installation and receive the same savings as those who have solar panels on their roof.

"True community solar empowers working class people to save more money now and over the long-term. We don’t have true community solar in California to date. That is because the utilities and the CPUC have put in place too many restrictions for these projects financially pencil out." - The Solar Rights Alliance

If you are in the solar industry and you are not enraged by these new - we urge you to educate yourself on the matter. While it's disappointing to have to keep fighting to stop the CPUC from taxing the Sun, we should not give up! This is a strategy they are using to see if the public can be deceived or worn down. Let’s show them that we as an industry are smarter than that, we have to fight back with our community to support affordable solar for homes of all sizes and income status.

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