Clean energy advocates, environmental groups, solar consumers and businesses — fresh off defeating AB 1139 in the state legislature — are fighting back against the continued big utility “profit grab” that aims to make rooftop solar more expensive, harm consumers and slow down California’s clean energy progress. They joined together at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to call on state leaders to keep solar affordable and growing in California as the Newsom Administration considers changes to net metering. Following the event, supporters delivered more than 30,000 petitions against utility-proposed changes to net metering to CPUC’s headquarters.
“Our coalition of solar consumers and clean energy activists did the unexpected and stopped a bill in Sacramento driven by big utilities and some of the state’s most powerful interests,” said Dave Rosenfeld, executive director of the Solar Rights Alliance. “Now as we turn our attention to this newest threat to affordable clean energy, the CPUC and Governor Newsom can expect to hear our voices in even greater volume.”
Net metering is intended to put the benefits of rooftop solar in the hands of more people, and it’s doing just that. Hundreds of thousands of families, renters, businesses, schools, and others across California are saving money on their utility bills with rooftop solar. In fact, working and middle-class neighborhoods make up nearly 50% of today’s rooftop solar market. Rooftop solar is helping consumers of all types lower their energy bills and, when coupled with storage, is a consumer’s best defense against spiking energy costs and unpredictable power outages. Not only that, many of the state’s low-income solar programs rely on net metering to deliver bill savings to vulnerable populations.
“What the big utilities are proposing would do nothing short of halting the rooftop solar industry in its tracks, just as our economy and clean energy needs demand we go forward,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association. “California voters overwhelmingly support the growth of rooftop solar and oppose the push by investor-owned utilities to increase their own profits by making solar more expensive for everyone.”
As symbolized by the giant 30-foot-tall “Utility Profit Grab Man” stationed outside CPUC headquarters, the motive for big utilities is profits. PG&E and other utilities want to change the rules in their favor so they can profit off the energy created by solar consumers and eliminate a growing competitor in the energy market.
“The real cost shift happening in California is the exorbitant sums of ratepayer money being stolen from local renewables to subsidize transmission lines — which mostly benefit the utilities, who make huge guaranteed profits from transmission spending,” said Rosana Francescato of Clean Coalition. “Transmission costs are the fastest-growing component of electricity bills in California, and deploying more rooftop solar has been shown to mitigate these costs.”
A wide range of environmental groups and solar supporters joined the event and shared the critical role rooftop solar plays in realizing California’s clean energy goals.
“As a national leader in building electrification and climate equity, the City of Berkeley is counting on the Governor and CPUC to make plentiful and affordable access to rooftop solar a priority,” said Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley Mayor and President of the Association of Bay Area Governments. “This will ensure that our state continues to lead the nation in our shared climate action and equity goals.”