On October 11th, Environment California members and staff joined hundreds of supporters outside the state capitol building in Sacramento to celebrate the power of the sun and rally to keep solar growing for all Californians. Organized by the Save California Solar coalition, including Environment California, the “Everyone Under the Sun Rally & Festival” brought together a diverse coalition of environmentalists, environmental justice advocates, solar workers, and everyone under the sun who supports solar power. Some of the leading organizations that pulled off the event included the Coalition for Environmental Equity and Economics led by Esperanza Vielma, the Solar Rights Alliance led by Dave Rosenfeld, the California Solar and Storage Association and dozens more.
Attendees enjoyed live music and dancing throughout the event spanning many genres including a mariachi band, Aztec dancers, a gospel choir, and Grammy-winning band Ozomatli. Guests also enjoyed delicious ice cream served by Environment California from a freezer powered by solar panels. Approximately 500 scoops of solar-powered ice cream were distributed to cool down supporters throughout the day and help the large crowd call for continued growth of rooftop solar in the state.
Solar power has helped fuel the rise of renewable technologies in California over the last decade as technological advances, plummeting prices, environmentally-minded consumers, and forward-thinking policies have driven broad adoption of solar. California leads the nation in solar capacity, and solar has grown by over 1,200 percent since 2012 according to new data from Environment California Research and Policy Center’s 2022 Renewables on the Rise dashboard. Supporters and activists at the rally celebrated this progress while calling for more action from California’s leaders to save solar and distribute the benefits of renewable energy more widely throughout all communities.
Environment California State Director Laura Deehan, Clean Energy Advocate Steven King, and Conservation Campaign Associate Ben Grundy each spoke at the rally and helped fire up supporters when they were not busy scooping solar-powered ice cream.
“We need four times as much rooftop solar if we want to protect our climate and our environment: let’s not get rid of solar incentives,” said Laura Deehan. “Let’s reject solar taxes and go much further in supporting adoption of this critical clean energy technology.”
Steven King added that “to achieve our vision of 100% clean, renewable energy in California, we need our state leaders to double down on technologies like solar and storage and ensure that all Californians can enjoy the benefits of clean energy.”
Ben Grundy emphasized that California is a biodiversity hotspot, and that “every solar panel we put on roofs across the state helps to save open space and wildlife habitat from being destroyed by fracking, oil wells, and offshore drilling.”
Rooftop solar is one of the best technologies we have to quickly deploy new clean energy capacity, and can enable California to respond at the speed and scale necessary to address the climate crisis. Rooftop solar can be installed more quickly than any other electricity generating source, and recent bills like the Solar Access Act will only make it easier to put more solar panels up by requiring cities and counties to adopt automated online permitting systems. As detailed in Environment America Research and Policy Center’s 2021 report, Rooftop Solar at Risk, rooftop solar panels are a uniquely powerful and beneficial way to harness clean energy. Distributing these panels on rooftops across the state means less need for expensive long-distance transmission infrastructure, more land preservation by installing panels on existing buildings, and an electricity system that is more resilient to wildfires and climate-related disasters like intensifying heat waves.
Without strong support, however, rooftop solar will not continue to grow as it has over the past decade. Rooftop solar has been threatened in California since the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a proposed decision in December 2021 that would have gutted the state’s bedrock solar incentive programs. This initial proposal sparked widespread public opposition and caused the CPUC to revise its proposed decision, which is expected to be released soon. Attendees at the rally emphasized the importance of this CPUC decision and how it must keep solar growing for all Californians by keeping consumer incentives strong and refraining from issuing any type of solar tax, which would be counterproductive to California’s vision of a future powered by 100% clean and renewable energy.
Clean Energy Advocate, Environment California
Steven leads Environment California’s campaigns to increase clean, renewable energy throughout the Golden State, spearheading efforts to transition away from dangerous fossil fuels and address climate change. Steven lives in Los Angeles where he enjoys spending time outdoors, watching his favorite L.A. sports teams, and playing the trombone.