STATEMENT: California utility commission releases punishing final rooftop solar decision

On eve of vote to cut California’s solar incentives, proposal threatens clean energy progress

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released an ominous “revised decision” about rooftop solar incentives on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the commission is scheduled to vote on the proposal. The latest version contained no significant changes from the commission’s November draft, setting the stage for a vote that could discourage Californians from “going solar” at a time when we need more, not less, renewable energy replacing global-warming fossil fuels. 

California compensates current solar customers for excess power they generate and sell back to the publicly accessible grid under an incentive program called “net energy metering.” However, if the commission votes to approve this decision, come April 2023, new solar customers will suffer a sudden, drastic 80% cut in the net metering credit, with steeper cuts to come in subsequent years. 

Although California produces more solar energy than any state in the nation, the state will need to quadruple its rooftop solar capacity in order to meet its climate and clean energy goals, including generating 100% of its power from clean energy sources by 2045. If the state slashes this incentive, many Californians may be unable to afford the upfront costs of this technology that has so many long-term benefits.

The decision is not as bad as the proposal from one year ago. Like the November draft, it continues to honor existing net metering compensation agreements. Also, it does not include an unfair “solar tax” or grid-participation fee for people with their own solar panels.

In response, Environment California State Director Laura Deehan released the following statement: 

“It’s devastating to see California, the nation’s shining solar leader, propose to dismantle solar incentives this Christmas. Governor Newsom and the CPUC ought to be making clean energy more accessible and affordable – especially when it can do so by incentivizing people to make the bulk of the investment. People throughout the state have made their voices heard over the past year, and overwhelmingly called for rooftop solar to flourish, not flounder. This misguided decision risks taking some of the shine off the Golden State.“