Hundreds of Solar Workers Rally at California PUC
Over 150 solar workers rallied Thursday morning at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to continue policies that support the fast-growing rooftop solar market in California. The ralliers called attention to the recent, spectacular growth of California’s solar economy, a testament to business innovation and continued policy leadership in the Golden State.
A few sunny facts about California solar job growth:
- According to The Solar Foundation’s latest job census, California solar jobs grew by over 15% in 2014, much faster than the state’s economywide job growth rate of 3.1%.
- More than 54,000 people work in California’s solar industry — that’s more jobs than provided by the state’s five biggest utilities (PG&E, SCE, SDG&E. LADWP and SMUD) put together, and nearly one third of all the solar jobs in the nation.
- More than 2,000 solar companies call California home, and have installed over 9,000 MW of solar statewide, enough to power more than 2 million homes. The majority of that 9,000 MW was installed in just the last two years.
All that solar success is something to celebrate! However, we can’t take further progress for granted. The CPUC is considering changes this year to net metering, the long-standing state policy that allows a solar customer’s meter to run backward when they are producing more energy than they are using. The three large California investor-owned utilities have proposed to end net metering once they reach 5% of their peak demand in 2016 or 2017, which would block the growth of rooftop solar. The CPUC is also considering changes to residential rate design, including imposing fixed charges by 2020 that would reduce solar bill savings.
Solar workers gathered on the CPUC front steps for the morning rally, then filed into the CPUC’s voting meeting, where several workers gave impassioned public comment urging the Commissioners’ continued solar leadership.
“Solar jobs like mine depend on net metering to make solar affordable for Californians,” said Melissa Brewster, Manager of Community Engagement for Luminalt Solar.
Eduardo Lainez, Marketing Manager of Mounting Systems, a West Sacramento-based manufacturer, told Commissioners about his path to working in solar. “The solar market has been through too much boom and bust in the past, and we need you to make sure policy changes don’t interfere with continued growth,” Lainez said.
“The solar industry creates opportunities for workers to get on a solid career path,” said David De La Torre, Secretary-Treasurer of Laborers Local 261. “Commissioners, we need you to maintain fair policies that keep California families, schools and businesses going solar.”
We’re thrilled to see the solar industry turning out in force to show the CPUC what’s at stake this year! California is a global leader on all things clean energy. We need the Commission to stand up to the utilities and keep solar growing by ensuring that solar customers continue to get full, fair credit for the clean energy they generate.