CALIFORNIA—Solar workers, consumers, clean energy advocates, community leaders, conservationists, and climate activists are rallying at investor-owned utilities across the state over the next two weeks to protest a utility-backed proposal to tax rooftop solar and drastically reduce the credits consumers receive for selling their solar energy back to the grid.

Save California Solar Coalition partners and protesters, along with tv news crews gather in front of the headquarters of Sempra in San Diego, the parent company of San Diego Gas & Electric on Tuesday, July 19.

The tour goes from July 19 to July 29 and includes stops at utility offices in San Diego, the Coachella Valley, Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, Fresno, Santa Cruz and Chico.During the events solar advocates will deliver “cease and desist” letters to California’s investor owned utilities, calling on them to stop trying to make solar unaffordable and halt California’s clean energy progress.

Save California Solar Coalition partners and protesters, along with tv news crews gather in front of PG&E in Bakersfield on Thursday, July 21.

The CPUC is currently considering utility-proposed changes to “net energy metering,” the state policy that makes rooftop solar more affordable for consumers of all types by compensating them for the excess energy they produce and share with their neighbors. Currently 1.5 million consumers use net metering, including thousands of public schools, churches and affordable housing developments, and it is the main driver of California’s world-renowned rooftop solar market. As a result of net metering, working and middle class neighborhoods are just under half of the rooftop solar market and the fastest growing segment today.

Big utilities want to change the rules in their favor in order to eliminate a growing competitor, keep consumers stuck in utility monopolies, and maintain the need for costly and often dangerous transmission lines that are a key driver of utility profits and ratepayer costs.

Despite the overwhelming popularity of rooftop solar and net metering in California, the CPUC is considering a proposed decision, favored by investor-owned utilities, to implement a monthly solar penalty tax while also slashing credits consumers receive for their excess solar energy.

The CPUC proposed drastic changes that favored the utilities last December and are expected to issue a revised decision sometime next month.

By contrast, solar supporters want to keep solar growing and affordable for all types of consumers, ensure California remains on track with its clean energy and land conservation goals, and accelerate the growth of solar plus storage to build a more resilient electric grid.

“Don’t Tax the Sun” rally on July 26 in San Luis Obispo. The group marched to PG&E’s office on Higuera Street. Credit: Paso Robles Daily News