60,000 Californians Urge Regulators to Say YES to More Rooftop Solar

Media Contacts

Upcoming CPUC Vote Draws Outpouring of Public Support for Successful Clean Energy Credit Program

Environment California

San Francisco – May 22, 2012 – Solar, environmental, public interest and science groups banded together to help Californians send nearly 60,000 messages asking the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to expand a popular clean energy program called net metering.

Like rollover minutes on a cell phone, net metering gives solar energy customers fair credit on their monthly utility bills for electricity they put on the grid for others to use. California’s program has allowed over 100,000 homes, businesses, schools, and public agencies to go solar and lower their energy costs. This in turn supports thousands of jobs statewide and reduces the need for expensive, polluting fossil-based power plants.

California law caps the amount of net metering that utilities must make available to their customers. The outpouring of public net metering support comes as the CPUC considers taking action to allow more Californians to participate under that cap. The state’s major utilities are opposing the proposal, instead supporting a plan that would cut the amount of net metering participation by half. The Commission could make a final decision on the issue at a public hearing on Thursday, May 24.

A number of major organizations participated in the public action, including: 350.org, CREDO Action, Environment California, Sierra Club, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Union of Concerned Scientists and Vote Solar.

“People care deeply about this issue. They want California to continue to go solar, and they agree that Californians should get fair credit for doing so,” said Annie Carmichael, Policy Director at the grassroots organization Vote Solar. “We hope that state policymakers will listen to their constituents and ensure continued access to this energy bill-saving, job-creating backbone of California’s growing solar economy.”

“With electricity bills constantly rising, it’s no surprise that Californians are responding strongly to this call to preserve access to a cheaper, safer, cleaner energy option. It’s past time for utilities to ditch dirty, out-dated fossil fuels that burden their customers with asthma and other deadly health problems and embrace clean, cost-effective rooftop solar,” said Evan Gillespie, Campaign Director for Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign.

“We hope that the more than 27,000 CREDO Action members who signed this petition send a strong message to the CPUC,” said Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager with CREDO Action. “Californians strongly support solar energy and policies to confront climate change. We don’t want our state’s leadership and solar industry growth to be undermined by unfair electric utility loopholes.”

“California’s solar industry employs more than 25,000 Californians and has driven $10 billion of private investment — and net metering is central to that success,” said Sara Birmingham, Director of Western Policy for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “For jobs and investment to continue, the looming net metering program cap can’t slam the brakes on California homes, schools and businesses going solar.”

“Net metering is clear and simple way for Californians to help solve the climate crisis,” said Jamie Henn, Communications Director for the climate campaign 350.org. “With the impacts of climate change already being seen across California — from melting glaciers in the Sierras to increased wildfires outside of Los Angeles — utilities should be facilitating the public’s desire for more clean energy, not thwarting it.”

“To remain the country’s clean energy leader and to give all Californians the right to invest in solar, policy makers must act now to expand California’s local solar market twelve-fold by 2020—as called for by Governor Brown,” said Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment California. “Expanding the state’s successful net metering program is a critical step towards achieving this goal.”

A recent poll conducted for Vote Solar showed that an overwhelming majority (86 percent) of California voters support making net metering more widely available. In addition to the 60,000 Californians who contacted the CPUC directly, the net metering expansion proposal is supported by a broad range of stakeholders including: the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and former Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Fred Keeley who authored the original California net metering legislation.

Learn more about the campaign to protect fair credit for solar power at: www.protectnetmetering.org