Speeding up rooftop solar deployment

Today the Senate Governance and Finance committee passed SB 379, the Solar Access Act out of committee to speed up rooftop solar deployment. Here is my testimony in support of the bill!

Solar power

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Today the California State Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved the Solar Access Act, SB 379 by Sen. Scott Wiener out of committee. The bill would direct cities and counties to make solar permit applications automatic, taking advantage of a new tool the Department of Energy launched last year called SolarApp+. Environment California is a co-sponsor of the legislation. 

Here is my testimony at today’s bill hearing:

Happy New Year and thank you Chair McGuire, committee members and staff. I’m Laura Deehan, State Director with Environment California, a statewide environmental advocacy organization that works for clean air, clean water, open spaces and a livable planet.

Excited to be working with SPUR and Senator Wiener to sponsor SB 379- the Solar Access Act. California is one of the sunniest places in the world and we have led the way with rooftop solar growth- now with over one million solar roofs across our state!

To get to to 100% clean energy statewide- We need more rooftop solar! Rooftop solar causes no air pollution, No spills in our beautiful coastline, and there is no new land needed and that’s why poll after poll shows that rooftop solar is the most popular energy source in the state. 

California’s potential to expand rooftop solar is enormous- The National Renewable Energy Lab estimates that we could meet ¾ of our state’s electricity needs just by catching the sun on our existing rooftops! But For too long, processing solar permits has burdened local governments with hours of paperwork per application. And as a result consumers have experienced delays in getting solar panels on their roof. 

That’s why the Department of Energy developed SolarAPP+. This past summer Sec. Jennifer Granholm came to California as part of her Summer of Sun tour- to celebrate the promise of this new tool “to make installing solar panels cheaper, faster and even more popular”

Thanks to the state legislature’s investment in last year’s budget, the California Energy Commission will have a new grant program available to support local governments adopting this system. 

Passing SB 379 is the next step to catalyze adoption and ensure that across our state; cities and counties take advantage of this technology and afford more Californians the opportunity to catch the plentiful sunshine on our rooftops. I respectfully ask for an aye vote.


Laura Deehan

State Director, Environment California

Laura directs Environment California's work to tackle global warming, protect the ocean and fight for clean air, clean water, open spaces and a livable planet. Laura stepped into the State Director role in January, 2021 and has been on staff for over twenty years. She has led campaigns to make sure California goes big on offshore wind and to get lead out of school drinking water. As the Environment California Field Director, she worked to get California to go solar, ban single use plastic grocery bags and get on track for 100% clean energy. Laura lives with her family in Richmond, California where she enjoys hiking, yoga and baking.

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