Demonstrators Rally in Cathedral City to Keep Rooftop Solar Growing and Affordable

Carmela Karcher

Climate activists, green workers and neighbors alike called on the governor and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to keep rooftop solar growing and affordable. 

This comes as the CPUC is considering changes to net energy metering, a state policy that makes solar more affordable by crediting consumers for producing excess energy and sharing it with neighbors.

New changes in their proposal could make solar more expensive, immediately cut net energy metering credits by 75%, and even eliminate green jobs here in the state. 

“If rooftop solar goes away, it has nothing to do with market forces or with the people who are here today who are actively working to put solar on rooftops,” CEO and Founder of Renova Energy, Vincent Battaglia, said. “It has everything to do with the electric utilities, who are very rapidly going bankrupt and are trying to grab at anything they can in order to stop their number one competitor, which is rooftop solar.”

On the other hand, the Affordable Clean Energy for All coalition supports this proposal, but says it doesn’t go far enough to address the inequities in the rooftop solar program.

The coalition says they support rooftop solar, but the program the utilities commission organized has not been touched since the mid-90s, which means the original subsidies haven’t changed either.

Since then, solar panels have gotten cheaper but the original subsidies are still benefiting those who are homeowners or those who are on the wealthier end of the socio-economic ladder.

“The program you can see is way out of whack,” Affordable Clean Energy for All Spokesperson Kathy Fairbanks shared. “The people who pay for these subsidies are people who don’t have solar panels. People who don’t have solar panels tend to be low income, seniors on fixed incomes, people who live in apartments, and a lot of people from disadvantaged communities.”

Fairbanks said those who don’t have solar are paying nearly $300 more per year to cover the costs for people who do have solar.

She mentioned those who have a negative utility bill are not paying into low income and energy efficient programs and are not paying to keep the grid going, which means those who don’t have solar panels are carrying those costs.

A vote on the proposed decision by the CPUC is expected on December 15.

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