The solar industry and anyone concerned about a renewable and resilient energy
future has been on pins and needles for almost a year as the Public Utilities
Commission has considered changes to Net Energy Metering rules, commonly
known as NEM 3.0, that would decimate the rooftop solar market in California.
The backdrop of the coordinated effort to kill solar is decades of pipeline
explosions, power shut-offs, wildfires, bankruptcy, and massive increases in
electricity costs from the Investor Owned Utilities: PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E.
Allterra, concerned citizens and myriad organizations throughout the Central
Coast and beyond have engaged in direct action in San Francisco at CPUC
headquarters and in Sacramento in hopes of altering the proposed decision for
the better but thus far have received little indication about which way the CPUC
is leaning. The expectation is that the CPUC will release the updated proposed
decision at its September 29 meeting based on the 90-day comment period
beginning July 1st.
NEM 3.0 Background & Refresher…
The CPUC issued an initial proposed decision in late 2021 that would have added
new grid-use fees and shifted to a net billing structure, which combined would
have resulted in lower incentives for rooftop solar customers and monthly
charges totaling around $80 for an average sized system. In February 2022,
after outcry from solar supporters, the new commission president Alice Reynolds
asked for more time to review and consider revisions to the proposed decision.
Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of CALSSA, issued the following
statement on the proposed decision:
“Solar consumers, green workers, affordable housing advocates, climate activists
and clean energy supporters of all types eagerly await a new proposed decision
by the CPUC. Taking unpopular and bad ideas pushed by investor-owned utilities
— like a solar tax or drastically reducing net metering credits — off the table
cannot come soon enough. With rooftop solar’s vital contribution to reaching
California’s clean energy goals, the promise of battery storage for grid reliability,
and new federal incentives for going solar, now is not the time to slam the brakes on California’s progress by making solar unaffordable. Instead, we need to keep up our momentum towards bringing affordable rooftop solar and energy storage to more consumers.”
Where are we now?
We await the final proposed decision at the end of September. There are three
primary action steps people can take right now to help save solar in California.
● Call the governor & your local state legislators
● Sign Petition
The talking points to remember when making a comment:
● The “cost shift” argument is wrong
● The CPUC does not fully consider the benefits of solar
● New charges on only solar customers are illegal
● Net Billing would negatively affect California’s climate and economy
Debunking the “Cost Shift” argument…
Way back in 2012, utilities across the country and the American Legislative
Exchange Council (ALEC) began devising an argument suggesting homeowners
with solar don’t pay their fair share for the grid while homeowners without solar
are saddled with rising infrastructure costs and fewer ratepayers. Utilities have
an incentive to continuously expand the grid because they're guaranteed a
return on their investment from selling energy to ratepayers with no alternative.
For the first time in history, people had an alternative option for electricity when
they previously were beholden to whichever utility served their region. Fast
forward a decade and solar has become an existential threat to that business
model and therefore needs to be crushed regardless of the benefits to
ratepayers, grid resilience and the urgent need to fight climate change.
The benefits of solar are real…
Rooftop solar employs over 75,000 Californians in family-supporting jobs and
provides paths for diverse workforces into thriving clean energy careers. In fact,
rooftop solar alone employs more people than the five largest utilities combined.
In Santa Cruz County alone, nearly 1,000 people are employed in solar.
Thousands of small businesses make up most of California’s solar industry and
help drive local economic activity. Recent studies have found that a sustained
investment in local solar and storage could create 100,000 jobs by 2030, and
374,000 jobs by 2050.
California’s pioneering actions to reduce air pollution, safeguard open space and
protect endangered species have set the bar for the United States and beyond.
Despite previous efforts and success, California is now facing its largest
environmental challenge: climate change. Over the next few decades, the Golden
State will need to power its economy with clean renewable electricity.
Solar energy on homes, municipal buildings, small businesses and other buildings
can be deployed at the speed and scale required to meet the climate crisis, and
it can do so while contributing to a resilient, ecologically vibrant future for
Installing more rooftop solar can increase renewable electricity generation while
protecting the state’s open spaces and helping to make communities more
resilient to global warming-related disruptions to the power grid. To accelerate
the transition to a 100% clean energy system while protecting our environment,
California should adopt policies that continue the growth of solar power on
homes, businesses, schools, farms and other buildings.
Visit calssa.org or allterrasolar.com for more info