California Public Utilities Commission Expands Solar Net Metering
Consumer, Faith, Environmental & Business Leaders Applaud Commitment to Continued Solar Progress
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, January 28, 2016—A diverse coalition of consumer, environmental, faith, public health, environmental justice, and business organizations joined together to applaud the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) decision to preserve net metering, a critical solar policy that gives the state’s energy consumers the opportunity to generate their own energy with solar power. In a 3–2 vote, the Commission approved a balanced net metering program that will ensure rooftop solar continues delivering consumer savings, building healthier communities, creating local jobs, and making California a climate leader.
“With today’s vote, the CPUC stood strong for progress, for innovation, and for the Californians they serve,” said Susannah Churchill, west coast regional director for Vote Solar. “This decision to uphold net metering was the result of a thorough Commission-led stakeholder process from the state that knows solar best, our nation’s largest rooftop solar market by a long shot, and we hope other states will take note.”
“The utilities are upset because they weren’t successful at killing solar like some of their counterparts in other states have done, but the Commission determined that net metering should change only gradually,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA). “This decision takes significant steps to change net metering over time, but we are confident it will maintain the opportunity to go solar for most types of customers.”
“Today will shine bright in California history, bringing cleaner air, more local jobs and a more secure energy future for all Californians,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate for Environment California Research & Policy Center. “We applaud the CPUC for listening to the outpouring of support from Californians all over the state to protect net metering and uphold Governor Brown’s vision for climate and clean power leadership.”
“Solar is an essential asset for disadvantaged communities facing fossil fuel pollution throughout California,” said Eddie Ahn, executive director of Brightline Defense. “Today, the CPUC has recognized that solar not only creates sustainable environments but also empowers our communities with jobs.”
“All faith traditions teach that we have a responsibility to take care of our common home and the gravity of the climate crisis requires that humanity transition as soon as possible to clean renewable energy,” said The Rev. Will Scott, program director for California Interfaith Power & Light. “We have been blessed with the abundant resource of the sun and rooftop solar is an essential part of California’s global climate leadership. CIPL and our network of 650 congregations throughout the state urge the CPUC to do all it can to encourage the expansion of rooftop solar in California.”
“This decision gives farmers a practical way to lower their carbon footprint by maximizing the on-farm renewable energy they produce. By continuing net energy metering aggregation (NEMA), the CPUC recognized agriculture’s important role in providing solutions to climate change,” said Adam Kotin, associate policy director of California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN).
Led by Commission President Michel Picker, the CPUC decision was the culmination of a multi-year process that had Californians of all walks of life calling for continued solar progress. Supporters delivered more than 150,000 petitions in favor of net metering, a historic level of public engagement at the CPUC. Diverse groups representing consumers, educators, local governments, environmental interests, low-income communities, tribes, farmers, faith organizations, businesses, job training organizations, and the growing solar industry formally urged the Commission to uphold net metering and expand solar access to more Californians.
The price of going solar has dropped by half over the past five years, giving families, schools, businesses and others an affordable option for lowering their electricity bills and investing in a brighter California. This consumer investment in local solar power reduces the need for expensive and polluting utility infrastructure, which delivers community-wide cost savings and health benefits throughout the state. It also drives investment in our local economy and employs over 54,000 people statewide, which is more than the state’s five largest utilities combined. Today’s CPUC vote will ensure that California consumers who go solar in the future continue to receive full retail net metering credit and sets up a later phase of the proceeding to further expand solar access for customers in disadvantaged communities. It also adopts modest changes to solar customer rates while rejecting the utilities’ proposals for discriminatory demand charges, fixed charges and standby charges.
For more information about the organizations supporting California net metering and solar progress, visit the Coalition for Solar Rights.