Sacramento Gets Organized For More Local Solar and Storage

We’re hard at work in California protecting solar customers from unfair discriminatory fees, and fighting for local solar rights as a key part of building a more resilient energy future. Last week Vote Solar staff met with Sacramento residents who are organizing for solar rights in their community. Here are the key takeaways:

On a balmy evening last week, 35 customers of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) gathered at the Southgate Public Library to talk about how they could work together in support of more distributed energy in their community.

SMUD serves 1.5 million people and has been a clean energy leader in the past, but when the utility proposed new solar fees this year, we worked fast with partners to help customers organize and shut the unfair and unjustufied proposal down.

The crowd, many of whom have installed rooftop solar on their homes, shared pizza and exchanged ideas about how they could encourage SMUD to expand solar access to more families and businesses and build a more resilient and affordable grid that is less dependent on fossil fuels.

Ed Smeloff, Vote Solar’s Director of Energy Systems Integration and an elected member of SMUD’s Board of Directors in the 1980’s and 90’s, was invited to speak to the group about the utility’s history with clean energy. Ed highlighted the opportunities for the publicly-owned utility to more closely partner with its customers in developing local solar, energy storage and smart home technologies.

Key takeaways Ed shared with Sacramento solar supporters:

  • SMUD needs a fair residential rate structure that supports rather than discriminates against customers who invest in generating their own electricity from clean sources.
  • The community has an opportunity to leverage state incentives to promote more battery energy storage systems for homes and businesses that can also be used to make the grid more reliable.
  • SMUD’s two oldest fossil fuel power plants are located in disadvantaged neighborhoods of Sacramento with high air pollution. It’s time for an action plan to shut them down.
  • SMUD needs to create an accessible grid planning process to identify the best locations for community solar and storage projects that can lower future grid costs as the utility moves to develop charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and convert homes from gas heating to electric heating.

After SMUD rescinded their recent proposal for an unfair new solar fee following customer opposition, the utility’s staff promised a future process for determining bill savings for solar customers that considers feedback from their customers. We are excited to see Sacramento-area residents keep organizing for clean energy and keep making a difference together!

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