Don’t Tax the Sun Tour: Fresno, CA Rally

Although solar tends to be popular among the majority of the populace, with 9 out of 10 Americans supporting the growth of solar energy, the underlying policies that drive the market growth tend not to garner the most civic engagement from the general public, which puts it at a surprisingly high risk in today’s political environment. It seems to be a subject that, because of its assumed popularity, tends not to bring the largest crowds or have the loudest voice. This counterintuitive happenstance makes it vitally important for those of us in the industry to be diligent in setting aside time in our busy schedules to support these movements. We have a duty to oppose the deep pocketed, monopolistic organizations’ attempts to influence policy by outspending the general public and thousands of small businesses who are thriving in the market that has been cultivated by policy of previous administrations. This grassroots style of organizing has already proven to be effective, as shown by the almost deafening silence from PG&E since walking back the initial NEM 3.0 proposal that was released early this year and received with massive backlash.

We would like to thank CALSSA for spearheading these continued efforts to protect consumers, solar industry workers, and the environment as a whole.

This week AEE solar joined a number of concerned citizens over PGE and the CPUC’s intentions with net metering. Over the course of three rallies we joined hundreds of business owners, service technicians, installation crews, and even solar customers in delivering a petition and sending a message to multiple local utility offices over the course of X days. The concern is over the expected final draft of NEM 3.0, which is expected to be released in the next month. While we do not yet know what the proposal will look like, if the previous proposal is any indication, it will be far less advantageous to future (and potentially existing) solar customers than to PGE and their stakeholders.

The draft of the previous proposal not only cut the estimated payback from 5-7 years all the way down to plus or minus 20 years, it also retroactively changed existing customer agreements on 20 year net metering agreements to 15 years! PGE claims that solar customers on the existing net metering plans are creating a “cost shift” to customers who may be less able to take advantage of sunlight on their property, be it due to shade, lack of usable roof or land space, or financial limitations. While it is unfortunate that not all californians are in a position to make use of the sun for their electric needs, PGE fails/neglects to mention the 42 million dollars spent on advertising and PR campaigns deliberately to push back against individually owned solar, which is the only way Californians have to choose their electric provider due to the effective monopolies that utilities have over their territories. Nor, does it seem, would they like to admit the cost they are bearing of the wildfires is a cost that inevitably will inevitably trickle down to the customers. While PGE has seen decreased revenues/profits of XXX dollars due to fed up homeowners and businesses adopting solar, PGE has also benefited greatly from this market with increased grid reliability thanks to spikes in power production during precisely the times of day that power consumption tends to be highest. These are costs that the utility was able to completely avoid by encouraging consumers of electricity to also become producers. Let us also not forget the cost of wildfires caused by negligence on PGE’s part, which has costed the company (i.e. their customers) xxx dollars and earned them the first ever felony conviction of a public service company [fact check this statement]. {alt sentence} While that may be the case, PGE is effectively doubling down by spending 42 million dollar in advertising revenue to simply kneecap/handicap the industry, rather than saving or reallocating these funds in avenues that could minimize the supposed “cost shift” and benefit the entire market and grid in the long term. After all, PGE is providing a service, and therefore should be beholden to doing what is best for their XXX millions of customers rather than their [XXX NUMBER] of stakeholders/shareholders/investors. If the cost shift is real, who do YOU think should bear the cost? Leave your thoughts in the comments below

And oppose the organizations that are trying to shift policy to favor their own coffers rather than continue to allow more and more small businesses to spring up and thrive in the market cultivated by the existing policy of previous administrations

Last month AEE Solar had the honor to join hundreds of others concerned over the upcoming NEM 3.0 proposal currently being drafted by PG&E. CALSSA hosted seven rallies throughout the state of California starting in San Diego on July 19th and ending in Chico on the 29th, three of which we were able to send representatives to. Last month CALSSA hosted seven rallies throughout the state of California, from San Diego on July 19th, ending in Chico on the 29th.

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Written by: Alex Pugh, AEE Solar Applications Engineer

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