Yesterday solar supporters from the Fresno area highlighted the job-creating, cost-saving benefits of the region’s solar power boom and urged policymakers to defend the California net metering program that has played such a large role in that success story.
The group gathered in front of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, whose solar panels supply more than 95 percent of its electricity. “I also live in a three-bedroom townhouse with solar power, and my electricity bills were $300 – total – for all of last year,” said George Burman, project administrator for the church. “Net metering has helped our organization save money, as well as providing relief from skyrocketing energy bills personally for me and my neighbors.”
20 miles north, Golden Valley School District will use net metering to lower energy costs from a solar project designed to provide all of the electricity needs for the district. District Superintendent Andy Alvarado said his district expects to save $9 million over the next 25 years.
“I represent one of dozens of school districts around the state that have turned to solar power to slash our utility bills and save precious resources during these toughest of budgetary times,” Alvarado said. “Thanks to policies like net metering solar has become increasingly attractive to school districts as a money saver. Since any electricity we generate that is not utilized on-site is put back on the grid, schools are saving millions on their energy bills – and those dollars can be spent on books and teachers instead of utility bills.”
Net metering policies – now on the books in 43 states – allow a solar customer’s electric meter to “spin backwards” so they can receive fair credit for power they put back on the grid for the utility to sell to other customers.
Net metering has helped solar power flourish in the Fresno region. It’s allowed a changing demographic including businesses, schools, farms, retailers, public agencies and low- and middle-class homeowners to cut energy bills. Fresno’s experience is indicative of California’s new solar landscape, where most homeowners going solar over the past several years have lived in lower and middle income communities. Today Fresno ranks 5th in the state in terms of the number of solar installations on residential, commercial and government buildings, with just over 2,100 projects installed.
The growth of solar creates jobs, fuels the local economy and reduces the need for costly and polluting power plants. California’s solar industry created more than 25,000 high-wage jobs and spurred more than $10 billion in private investment in California’s economy during the past decade. Efforts are brewing to tack extra charges and fees on net metering participants, which would impact thousands in the Central Valley and chill continued solar growth statewide.
Defending California’s successful net metering policy is a top priority for us here at Vote Solar. We’ll hope you’ll help us speak up in support! We’ve made it easy here.