Diverse coalition rallies against anti-solar utility proposals; speakers defend consumer choice and highlight public health benefits of solar
LOS ANGELES – October 22, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — More than 300 Southern Californians, armed with signs and chants, rallied on Wednesday to protest Southern California Edison’s (SCE) proposal to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that would cripple rooftop solar power and eliminate consumer choice.
The rally featured live performances by Malik Yusef, a five-time Grammy Award winning poet, and Antonique Smith, a Grammy-nominated recording artist and actress. Speakers included Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz, Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. President of the Hip-Hop Caucus, students from a local elementary school, and Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment California. Attendees also included including school children, ratepayers, business leaders, solar advocates, and the Hip Hop Caucus’ nationwide bus tour.
“It’s not an accident that California is the nationwide leader in solar energy, with more solar power installed on homes, schools, businesses, farms and parking lots than any other state,” said Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “Weakening the primary policy that helped us reduce pollution and spur a new and vibrant clean energy economy would be a huge mistake for California.”
SCE’s proposal would end net energy metering, a critical state policy that makes rooftop solar more accessible to Californians. SCE, like other utilities across the state and nation, is attacking net energy metering because it is trying to slash market competition and limit consumer choice. Net energy metering allows consumers with solar panels to receive full retail credit for the excess electricity they send back to the grid. Net energy metering is the bedrock policy that has allowed California’s rooftop solar industry to grow tremendously, primarily by making the technology accessible for low-to-moderate income households.
Rally speakers highlighted how Californians have benefited from consumer choice, market competition, cleaner air and cleaner water, especially for communities of color, as well as tens of thousands of local jobs. Rally speakers followed by saying that all of this is at risk in California as the CPUC considers the utility proposals.
“Rooftop solar power gives consumers unprecedented choice and control over their energy future,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association, which participated in today’s events. “SCE has no business pressuring state regulators to eliminate competition by gutting pro-solar policies like net metering.”
Last week, a statewide poll of California registered voters’ opinions of rooftop solar power and related policies was released and found that 83% of respondents feel that utilities should not interfere with net energy metering policies according to a poll commissioned by CalSEIA, a non-profit that represents the common interests of the California solar industry, and Brightline Defense, a policy advocacy non-profit that focuses on quality-of-life improvements in low-income communities and communities of color, particularly those historically polluted by dirty power plants. The LA community voiced their opposition to the anti-solar proposals as the rest of the state agrees that the CPUC should not accept the utility proposals.
California’s two other major utilities, PG&E and SDG&E, have submitted similar proposals, which would remove energy choice for customers and threaten California’s progress on solar power.