LOS ANGELES and SAN FRANCISCO -- Hundreds of Californians rallied in the state’s two most famous cities Thursday, calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to make major changes to a proposal that would impose a tax on rooftop solar power generation. Other parts of the country where similar taxes were imposed saw precipitous drops in rooftop solar as a result.
“We’re facing a climate emergency. California will not meet its goals to fight climate change if we back off from rooftop solar. Actually, we need to quadruple rooftop solar capacity by 2045,” said Environment America Research & Policy President Wendy Wendlandt, a California resident who spoke at the Los Angeles event. “Every rooftop without solar is a missed opportunity for a cleaner, healthier future for every Californian. The last thing we need to do is make rooftop solar more expensive.”
Currently, Californians who generate excess electricity from their rooftop solar panels are able to sell that energy to their local utility through a process called “net metering.” In December, CPUC proposed a $700 per year tax on these local power generators. After public backlash, the proposal was shelved, but last month, CPUC began seeking public input on three new changes to net metering, including a $300 to $600 per year solar tax on average.
“It makes no sense to place a targeted financial burden on our neighbors who are enhancing the amount of renewables in our energy mix. We should be incentivizing rooftop solar and other forms of clean, renewable energy, not driving people back to fossil fuels,” said Environment California Research & Policy Center State Director Laura Deehan, who spoke at the San Francisco event. “California’s landmark renewable energy goals may be ambitious, but they are achievable -- and necessary to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. Gov. Newsom and CPUC have an obligation to make achieving those goals easier, not more difficult.”
The joint agency SB100 report indicates that California will need 28.5 GW more rooftop solar capacity to meet the state's clean energy goals by 2045. That’s nearly four times the current rooftop solar capacity in the state.
As detailed in Environment America Research & Policy Center’s 2021 report, Rooftop Solar at Risk, rooftop solar panels are a uniquely powerful and beneficial way to harness clean energy. Placing panels on rooftops reduces conflicts between land preservation and renewable energy production, reduces the need for expensive long-distance transmission infrastructure, and helps to build an electricity system more resilient to wildfires and other climate-related disasters.