Solar energy is bigger than ever, generating clean and reliable energy to homes across the nation, saving homeowners money, and providing ample, well-paying jobs. In fact, according to SEIA, there are now more than 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity installed nationwide, which is enough to power over 18.6 million homes.
However, thanks to government policies that benefit and promote a green energy revolution, the wide adoption of solar across the nation has left the big players in energy nervous about the future. This leads us to something called solar pushback. And it’s happening all over the nation, but let’s take a look at California and why it matters.
Solar Pushback in California
California is currently the top state for solar power, with enough solar to power over 8,430,324 homes, and around 25% of the entire state’s electricity comes from solar. Therefore, California is a good early example for what our nation’s future for energy could look like. In fact, California is considering overhauling electricity to allow even more solar and other renewable energy growth.
Some organizations are demonstrating just how much California has to gain by allowing solar to continue to expand, like Local Solar For Us All. They recently did an analysis that “outlines how continuing to expand local rooftop and community solar and batteries can save the state billions, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating thousands of good paying jobs.” An average of $4 billion a year, to be exact, or over $120 billion total by 2050. This is in addition to easing the grid during critical peak hours of electricity use that often lead to forced black outs.
This is also the equivalent of $295 in annual savings for the average California customer.
You would think with all the skyrocketing energy bills, wildfire destruction, blackouts and power outages that solar energy would be championed by all. But big energy is trying to win over lawmakers to stop rooftop solar’s forward momentum.
So why the pushback? The answer is simple – more people going solar means less energy being bought from the energy companies. Less power needed, less money for them.
It’s clear that today’s homeowners need a different solution than they did when the big energy companies first started.
Today’s energy grid can’t be trusted to keep your lights on and homes running. Climate issues, natural disasters and overloaded power grids have made losing grid power unavoidable. And California is one of the top states most-often plagued by these issues with more than 4,000 blackouts in the last decade alone. Alternative energy is the solution on everyone’s mind – and the power companies are aware of it.
Attack on California Net Metering
The biggest battle against solar power is the attack on net metering (NEM). In California, recent consideration from the Newsom administration is looking to alter NEM, and this is bad news for everyone involved — except the utility companies.
Currently, California homeowners with solar can earn money with NEM when their solar panel overproduces more energy than their home can use. That unused energy returns to the grid and they are paid back by their energy company for it. This is why net metering is one of the top perks of going solar. Not only does net metering save homeowners money, it also puts more clean energy back into the grid, benefiting the grid as well as customers without solar energy.
This is one of the reasons over 347 organizations in California have signed a petition as a last resort to preserve California net metering. The current plan is to slash the payback rates that homeowners would receive, thereby slowing the growth of solar in the state. Part of what makes solar power so wildly popular is due to NEM which makes rooftop solar more affordable. This also makes it more accessible to everyone. In fact, “working and middle-class neighborhoods make up nearly 50% of today’s rooftop solar market”.
In addition, utility companies are proposing the drastic reduction of the credit solar homeowners receive for unused energy, and lobbying for a monthly fee for homeowners with solar. This is a direct effort by the power companies to make homeowners less incentivized to switch to solar energy.
Solar Pushback Across the Nation
This issue isn’t unique to California. In fact a new report shows efforts to undermine solar at the federal level as well as in six states, according to Environment Florida’s Research and Policy Center.
In Florida, rooftop solar is under threat thanks to utility companies changing their net metering policies. Utility companies are doing this despite a policy through the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) which sets a standard policy on net metering throughout the state.
City-owned utility companies, like JEA in Jacksonville, do not have to abide fully by these policies and therefore decided to reduce the net metering payback to its solar customers.
Now solar policy advocates, such as Solar United Neighbors (SUN), are fighting back against the claims that solar is costing energy customers without solar. They point out that net metering has helped solar grow across Florida by 10,000%.
As Alissa Schafer of the Energy and Policy Institute states, “The percentage of people that have solar on their business or on their home is so incredibly low, it’s ridiculous to imply that this is causing a cost shift.”
In addition, new research from Michigan Tech University suggests “homeowners with rooftop solar are actually subsidizing their neighbors who don’t have rooftop solar.”
Unfortunately, California and Florida aren’t the only states that are experiencing this. Kansas, as well as Arizona and many more states, are dealing with utility company push back that is hindering the growth of solar in states that are particularly opportune for solar energy.
The Importance of Saving Solar
Combat rising energy costs
Saving money is at the top of everyone’s list, especially in California which has some of the highest energy rates in the nation. But thankfully with alternative energy solutions like solar panels, homeowners can protect their home from further rate increases and even potentially profit off of their array.
Clean environment, fight climate change, reduce pollution
We only get one Earth and have a powerful responsibility to protect it for future generations to come. With goals for renewable energy and residential rooftop solar is a big way to get them there. Solar energy is an important tool for conservation of the environment and local resources
Fueling good jobs and small businesses
Did you know careers in the solar industry make a higher median wage? And that studies have found investing in solar could create hundreds of thousands of jobs? Solar energy is good for a diverse economy and can provide jobs and earnings for local communities.
These are just three of the top reasons that solar is so important for every state. Read more about why it’s more than worth it for homeowners in California to go solar.
Move Energy Forward Not Backward
The solar energy industry has come a long way since solar pioneers first harnessed the power of the sun. Now more than ever before, people are looking for green solutions, and this includes their energy. If we keep working together, we can move energy forward, utilizing renewable energy like solar. Not only is it good for the environment, it also reduces your monthly electricity bill. Don’t let the energy companies fool you!
What You Can Do To Help
California adopted its use quickly and has been a shining example of what our energy future could look like. For ways you can help in California, visit https://www.savecaliforniasolar.org/. There’s even a petition going to send a clear message to Gov. Newsom and the CA Public Utilities Commission that you support solar energy in California!