A package of bills would expand solar access, restore local clean energy jobs, and help get California back on track to reach climate goals

View NBC News Clip Covering The Event

SACRAMENTO—Solar workers from across California traveled to the state capital on Wednesday to rally in support of solar energy, calling on lawmakers to keep California a solar state. The solar industry is currently experiencing business closures and significant job losses in every part of the state after the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) decision to slash the value of solar energy contributed back to the grid by 70-80% overnight. Since then, the solar industry has lost more than 17,000 jobs, representing 22% of all solar jobs in the state. A steep 87% decline in solar installations is also pushing California off its path to meeting renewable energy goals that are critical to the fight against climate change. “Solar energy is an essential part of California’s clean energy future,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA) that organized today’s event. “Rooftop solar brings many benefits including consumer savings, more jobs, and protection of open space. California lawmakers must take action today to keep California a solar state.” To help keep California a solar state, legislators introduced a series of bills aimed at expanding solar access, bringing back clean energy jobs and getting California on track in the fight against climate change. These bills include aligning net metering policies with the state’s ambitious clean energy goals, ensuring all of the benefits of solar energy are included in policy decisions, blocking high fixed charges, and making solar energy the official form of energy of California. “It’s utterly baffling that the state with the nation’s most ambitious record of advancing renewable energy and climate crisis relief has now sabotaged its own rooftop solar program,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Without a thriving residential solar sector, essential to allowing millions of working families to embrace clean energy, California’s emissions reduction targets under Governor Newsom are mere pipe dreams. The CPUC’s disastrous move last year dealt a severe blow to solar in the state, but there’s still hope if the legislature swiftly implements these critical measures.” Less than a year ago the Governor Newsom-appointed CPUC made drastic reductions to Net Energy Metering—the program responsible for lowering the costs of going solar and making California a solar leader. Since then, the solar industry has experienced devastating results in the form of business closures and depression-level layoffs. Not only did CPUC’s decision crater the largest solar industry in the nation, it has made installing solar less financially viable for working and middle class families. The resulting decline in solar installations is also making it unrealistic for California to meet its own renewable energy goals that are critical to the fight against climate change. Despite the consequences, the CPUC has continued to stifle the growth of solar. Just three months ago, they voted to exclude schools, farms, apartments and small businesses from the benefits of solar. The CPUC is currently considering a new costly “fixed charge” scheme proposed by the utilities that would not only increase energy bills on millions of working and middle class households, but would harm the solar market further. Legislation introduced to keep California a solar state includes:

  • AB 2619 (Connolly): Requires the CPUC to revise their net metering tariff to better align with California’s 100% clean energy goals.
  • AB 2256 (Friedman): Requires the CPUC to properly calculate all of the values of distributed generation including societal benefits.
  • SB 1374 (Becker): Restores the right of consumers with multimeter properties to self-consume on-site solar energy.
  • AB 1999 (Irwin): Places a reasonable cap on residential fixed charges, blocking the $30+/month charges currently on the table at the CPUC.
  • AB 2054 (Bauer-Kahan): Extends to 10 years the time period that CPUC commissioners are barred from employment by a regulated entity after leaving the commission.
  • SB 938 (Min): Prohibits electrical and gas corporations from lobbying with ratepayer dollars.
  • SB 1305 (Stern): Requires utilities to procure from virtual power plants to meet resource adequacy requirements.
  • AB 3118 (Wallis): Like the California poppy, this bill would establish solar energy as the official state energy of California.