On January 28, California’s renewable energy future got a shot in the arm.
The California Public Utilities Commission voted to continue net metering with only slight changes to the current protocol. Net metering gives solar rooftop owners and those who lease systems credits for electricity delivered back to the grid.
California’s three dirty energy utilities — PG&E, SCE and SDG&E – have campaigned vigorously against net metering because they understand how much credibility it lends to the case for solar:
- Net metering testifies to the abundance – indeed oversupply -- of energy collected from rooftop solar systems.
- It paints solar as a net giver on the energy grid.
- It’s an incentive to potential customers of rooftop solar that lowers their cost and makes solar economically feasible.
Renova Solar salutes the CPUC for their decision. We know the decision will have positive outcomes across the board: consumer savings, local jobs, healthier communities and climate progress.
Access for Disadvantaged Communities
Besides ensuring that California’s solar consumers will continue to receive full retail net metering credits, the decision includes initiatives to expand solar access to customers in disadvantaged communities.
A Popular Victory
Put forward by CPUC President Michael Picker and approved by the Commission in a 3-2 vote, the decision aligns the Commission with popular sentiment across the state.
Hundreds of social justice, faith, environmental, business, labor and health groups, schools and local elected leaders have rallied behind a solar future for California. They’ve delivered more than 150,000 petitions in favor of protecting net metering and expanding solar access.
This public outcry is unprecedented. Never before have utilities found themselves in the eye of such a raging popular storm.
The groundswell was reflected in high places, too.
- Governor Brown’s progressive stance in favor of renewable energy added prestige and clout to the pro-solar decision.
- Newspapers across the state stood firm against the dirty energy lobby: the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News and The Desert Sun editorialized in favor of net metering and solar progress.
Winning Accolades around the State
As soon as the decision was announced leaders from around the state spoke up to show their support.
Said Adam Kotin, associate policy director of California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), “This decision gives farmers a practical way to lower their carbon footprint by maximizing the on-farm renewable energy they produce. By continuing net energy metering aggregation (NEMA), the CPUC recognized agriculture’s important role in providing solutions to climate change.”
Said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA), “The utilities are upset because they weren’t successful at killing solar like some of their counterparts in other states have done. This decision takes significant steps to change net metering over time, but we are confident it will maintain the opportunity to go solar for most types of customers.”
Solar Just Keeps Getting Better
The price of going solar has dropped by half over the past five years, giving families, schools, businesses and others an affordable option for lowering their electricity bills and investing in a brighter California.
This consumer investment in local solar power reduces the need for expensive and polluting utility infrastructure, which delivers community-wide cost savings and health benefits throughout the state. It also drives investment in our local economy and employs over 54,000 people statewide, which is more than the state’s five largest utilities combined.
Safe for Now
The PUC will revisit net metering in 2019. Meanwhile, solar supporters will continue lobbying to move solar center stage and put dirty energy in its place – receding ever farther into the past. As we campaign for a cleaner future the CPUC decision will make it easier to demonstrate the solar advantage.