Local elected officials urge Gov. Newsom to save rooftop solar

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Bronte Payne

Over 50 local elected officials from across the state call on the governor to keep solar growing

Environment California Research & Policy Center

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Over 55 mayors, city council members and other local elected officials from across California urged Gov. Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to maintain a strong net metering program in a letter delivered Thursday. 

These local elected officials join an effort of nearly 600 environmental, consumer, and justice organizations and community leaders to protect and strengthen the state’s net metering program, which reimburses Californians who own rooftop solar panels for the extra electricity they send back to the grid. 

“To successfully fight climate change and reach the state’s clean energy goals, we need to empower and incentivize California’s residents and businesses to contribute to this effort,” said Jim Provenza, chair of the Yolo County Supervisors. “I urge Governor Newsom to stand up to the investor-owned utilities and ensure that local solar and battery storage continue to grow in our communities.”

In 2021, Californians across the state have been faced with climate catastrophes. Communities faced record heat waves, dangerous wildfires and increased air pollution. Local solar and storage gives communities clean energy choices that save money, keep the lights on, clean up the air and fight climate change. 

“Net Metering is a big positive, allowing every homeowner with solar to send excess power produced during the day for credit,” said Alma Beltran, mayor of Parlier. “The CPUC is poised to wreck the value, thereby punishing everyone who gets a solar system installed. It mainly punishes low-income homeowners. The City of Parlier is the first in the nation to start a City solar program for our residents. We know the importance of providing clean and affordable energy to the community.”

California law commits the state to reach 100% clean electricity by 2045. To achieve that commitment, state officials estimate that the state will need to add 28.5 gigawatts (GW) of customer-sited solar, nearly quadrupling current rooftop solar capacity in California. 

“Rooftop solar plays a critical role in meeting California’s energy and environmental goals by providing clean electricity for everyone in the state, improving the resilience of the grid, saving costs by reducing the need for expensive transmission lines, and providing emergency power during outages,” said Maryann Moise Derwin, mayor of the town of Portola Valley. “Net metering is important to continue the installation of solar power across the state; therefore, we should maintain net metering!”

Despite the numerous benefits of rooftop solar, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SoCal Edison) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) are using the common utility playbook described in Blocking Rooftop Solar to push for the nation’s highest fixed solar charges and drastic cuts to net metering in California. 

“Residents in our communities up and down the state want to be able to choose clean solar energy for their homes and communities,“ said Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb. “For the sake of our communities and our planet, we need our state leaders to push ahead and maintain helpful solar incentives.”

The CPUC is expected to make a decision on the future of the state’s net metering program by the end of 2021. 

“As a city that enjoys 360 days of sunshine a year, net metering has encouraged our residents to generate their own clean and efficient electricity,” said Christy Gilbert Holstege, mayor of Palm Springs. “Rooftop solar is an integral part of the City of Palm Springs’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.”