Local Officials Call for California to Extend Net Metering

Installing solar panels

Today, the Fresno Bee ran a heartfelt op-ed authored by Fresno City Council President Oliver Baines, calling on the California PUC to help Fresno build on its recent solar success by extending net metering. “In just the four years that I’ve been serving on city council, solar has gone from a novelty to a mainstream energy option,” wrote Mr. Baines. “Impressive recent declines in the cost of solar technology mean that Fresno’s families, schools and businesses are increasingly putting our plentiful sunshine to work producing their own electricity…. Fresno may have historically suffered some of the worst air quality in the country, but solar gives me hope that my daughter and granddaughter will have clean air to breathe…. Our State and local leaders should continue to explore innovative ways to expand solar access to more of our residents and businesses, and that starts by preserving the solar programs that are already working for Fresno.”

Mr. Baines has joined more than 50 local officials from across the state on a letter urging the agency to extend net metering. By the end of 2015, the PUC will decide what the net metering rules will be for customers of the state’s three large investor-owned utilities who go solar after the utilities hit their current 5% program cap. SDG&E is projected to be the first to hit their cap sometime in 2016.

Council President Baines’ call to action comes at a busy time in the CPUC’s net metering proceeding. By early August, stakeholders must submit their official proposals for the future of net metering in California; responses and hearings on the issue will be scheduled this fall.  In recent months, other letters supporting extending net metering have been sent to CPUC from social justice organizations, including the California Environmental Justice Alliance, The Greenlining Institute and the Mexican American Political Association as well as school employee organizations, such as the California School Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators  and the California Association of School Business Officials.

As all these letters highlight, Californians from so many different walks of life understand how important it is that future solar customers receive full, fair compensation on their utility bills. The Environment California Research & Policy Center recently released a report reviewing 11 technical studies, confirming that net metered customers are benefiting solar and non-solar energy consumers alike by adding more valuable local power to the grid. Beyond these direct grid benefits, net metering empowers consumer choice, local job growth, water savings, and progress toward our clean air and climate change goals. The CPUC should stand with the people, not the utilities, by upholding net metering and the future of rooftop solar in the Golden State.

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