The Trump Effect on Solar in California

As Trump takes aim at the EPA, climate change, and renewable energy, California is poised to fight back. It’s no secret that Donald Trump and his cabinet picks are not the biggest fans of renewable energy and factual information related to climate change. While Trump and his team, including Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as Energy Secretary and former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, may pay lip service to the need for a diversified national energy portfolio, Obama’s Clean Energy Plan will likely be scrapped in favor of more off-shore drilling, fracking, and mountaintop removal. Despite Sarah Palin’s absence, the phrase “drill baby drill,” will echo through the halls of government once again. How Trump’s energy policy will affect California and its booming solar industry, however, requires a closer look. Energy policy and the regulatory makeup of the nation’s power supply is determined by a patchwork of federal, state and local entities from the EPA and the US Dept. of Energy to the California Energy Commission and sub-state regional boards. Due to the layers of decision making, presidential power is quite limited when it comes to changing policy direction. Furthermore, California Gov. Jerry Brown has come out stalwartly opposed to any federal action that may undermine growth in solar and efforts to combat climate change.  In a fiery speech in December 2016, Gov. Brown declared, “We’ve got the scientists, we’ve got the lawyers and we’re ready to fight.” The Solar Train Has Left the Building Despite Trump’s best efforts to crush solar energy, the reality on the ground is that the proverbial cat is out of the bag. Solar is exploding across the United States and particularly in California where beneficial Net Energy Metering (NEM) rules have been locked in for the next 20 years. Moreover, the federal 30% Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was extended by congress until 2022 which will make it hard for the incoming administration to affect enshrined solar incentives. Pro-fossil fuel legislators will need to maintain their majority for three additional cycles and Trump will need to win re-election to have an actual impact in five years. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.  Trump’s message about reinvigorating the fossil fuel industry comes down to jobs but, as is customary for the Donald, the numbers don’t add up. The growth in solar jobs has outpaced natural gas and other fossil fuels for years and according to the Department of Energy (DOE study), solar job growth expanded by 25% in 2016, making it one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. Momentum, coupled with reality, will challenge fossil fuel talking points regurgitated by the president and his backers over the next four years. Solar is Here to Stay Going solar remains one of the best investments a home or business owner can make, especially in California. Solar equipment prices are at all time lows, financing options are plentiful, and utility costs continue to rise. To get a complimentary solar financial analysis, click here. Going solar is one of the most effective ways to counter the Trump effect so if you want to take action, now is the time.   Inauguration 2017” by Rita Hogan is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0