How local solar can help California respond to the wildfire crisis
We know that clean energy makes us stronger — and that Californians are ready to build a power grid that is more reliable, resilient and safe. So we’ve been fighting for lawmakers to pass the Solar Bill of Rights to protect your right to generate your own homegrown solar.
But our bill was heavily amended in late May as senators bowed to utility opposition. Key elements of the Solar Bill of Rights that are critical to protect solar customers from discriminatory fees and make it easier to connect local solar and storage to the grid were removed behind closed doors. Legislative authors and our coalition determined that SB 288 had been weakened too much to warrant continued support, so the bill has been further amended to address other topics and is no longer the vehicle for the Solar Bill of Rights.
The good news is that we are not going to stop fighting for Californians’ right to generate their own clean, reliable homegrown power, and we still see an opening to win. It’s all over the media right now that Governor Newsom and legislators are negotiating a deal aiming to make the electric grid more wildfire-safe, while also limiting the utilities’ financial liability for future fires sparked by their equipment.
Why aren’t our leaders in Sacramento demanding that consumer-driven clean energy solutions should be a top priority to protect against wildfires and build resilience?
Diesel backup generators are not only terrible for air quality and public health, they are also susceptible to fuel shortages when fires, floods or landslides close off access to supplies. But customers who install solar and storage together can keep the lights on during power shutoffs without polluting our air and without fear of fuel shortage.
What’s more, local solar reduces the need for the kind of long-distance transmission that’s been a cause of many of our state’s most devastating fires. As we electrify our vehicles and buildings to meet our climate goals in coming years, local solar will help us avoid building costly and fire-prone new power lines to serve new electrical demand.
Yet utilities continue to throw up barriers to local solar’s growth, focused only on their bottom line. This spring, for example, Sacramento’s municipal utility proposed a punishingly high new fee for rooftop solar, only rescinding the proposal when over a thousand of their customers voiced their opposition. And we just learned that in April, the Merced Irrigation District quietly adopted a $65 per month fixed charge for future solar customers.
More than ever, fees and barriers for local clean energy are exactly the wrong direction for our state, and our lawmakers should put a stop to it.
We need to shout it from the (solar-powered) rooftops: local clean energy is a win-win-win as we battle the climate crisis, and we need more of it ASAP!
We’ve had a setback, but we’ll never stop fighting to make local clean energy available and affordable for every Californian. Help us use this moment as an opportunity for change.