Breaking News
More () »

Solar activists protest at Capitol ahead of looming decision on slashing solar incentives

The proposal from the CPUC was released back in December, but pushback from those as high up as Gov. Gavin Newsom is likely delaying a final decision

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hundreds of people protested on the steps of the Capitol today as they await a decision to slash the rooftop incentive program to get solar panels.

The proposal from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was released back in December, but pushback from those as high up as Gov. Gavin Newsom is likely delaying a final decision.

Their message painted on the street in front of the Capitol was hard to miss: "Gove, keep solar Growing."

The Net Energy Meter (NEM) allows solar customers to sell the energy they don’t need back into the power grid for energy bill discounts. 

“Over the past decade with current policies, solar has grown tremendously in California," said Steven King with Environment California. "Since 2012, It's grown by over 1,200%"

Back in December the CPUC released it’s updated NEM 3.0 proposal. Currently, utility companies like PG&E and SDG&E buyback the extra energy solar users produce at about 20-30 cents per kilowatt.

CPUC wanted to reduce it to a maximum of 5 cents. With a lower buy back cost, the average bill for a solar customer could go from $82 dollars to more than $200 dollars. 

“What we're trying to do is inform people about not taxing the sun and trying to get the message to the governor so that we can continue to have solar credits, especially for our most disadvantaged communities" said Esperanza Vielma, co-founder of the Coalition for environmental equity and economics. 

It’s the CPUC that has the ultimate decision, but Gov. Newsom appoints the five members of the CPUC.

“I don't know why they're in Sacramento, the legislature is taking no action on this," said Kathy Fairbanks. 

Fairbanks is a spokesperson for the Affordable Clean Energy for All coalition in favor of the proposal. 

“The latest rumor we've heard is that the revised proposed decision will come out sometime after the election," said Fairbanks. "It was supposed to be finalized in July of 2021. Then that got extended, and we're now almost two years deep into this process.”

Those against the reform say it will keep disadvantaged communities from being able to get solar.

“They currently do not have equitable access to solar," said Vielma. "So we want to make it equitable, and once they do have access to solar, we don't want it to be taxed,”

Fairbanks says those disadvantaged communities are being hurt right now. 

“People with rooftop solar are not paying their fair share of cost to maintain the grid, for low income programs," said Fairbanks. "They're not paying for energy efficiency programs, or wildfire hardening, none of that all of those costs are being shifted to people without solar, a majority of whom are low income, they're renters, they're seniors on fixed incomes”

The protest was held Tuesday, but the final decision on the new proposal doesn't have a set date yet. 

The San Diego tribune reported that it would be after the election to avoid pushback. 

Watch more from ABC10: California registered voters sent ballots 2 weeks before 2022 election

Before You Leave, Check This Out