Groups Supporting Rooftop Solar Reform Call on Governor Newsom to Use His Bully Pulpit to be a “Champion for Equity”

Posted on March 14, 2022

Sacramento – In a letter delivered to Governor Gavin Newsom today, groups representing disadvantaged Californians called on him to be a “champion of equity” and to use his leadership to bring about needed reform of the state’s rooftop solar subsidy program, Net Energy Metering (NEM).

“I believe this Governor does care about the less fortunate in this state, but I’m perplexed that he hasn’t taken a more vocal and active leadership role to reform the state’s blatantly unfair rooftop solar program,” said Reverend Frank Jackson, Jr., Chairman and CEO, Village Solutions Foundation, a Faith-Based Community Development Corporation.

“That’s why I signed the letter,” he said. “I’m concerned for those already shouldering the burden of inflation where the cost for everything has gone up. Their voices are being drowned out by for-profit solar companies making millions on the backs of communities of color who can’t afford solar panels.”

The letter to Governor Newsom comes on the heels of legislators raising concerns about the growing NEM cost shift and pressing California Public Utilities Commission President Alice Reynolds to address the NEM inequity  sooner rather than later. 

The groups signing the letter are seeking NEM reform to eliminate the cost shift that forces non-solar customers, many whom are renters, low-income Californians and seniors, to pay for benefits that flow to primarily wealthy solar homeowners. NEM has been called a regressive cost shift.

From the letter:

“It is wrong that Californians who qualify for low-income assistance are helping to pay for solar systems for celebrities.”

“Please help us lead the way to a more equitable California.”

“The only reason there is not a groundswell of outrage from electricity customers without solar panels is because they have no idea a portion of their electric bills contribute to bill discounts for their wealthier neighbors. We are their voice.”

“We are calling on you to be the champion for equity. You have the bully pulpit to change this. As you further cement California’s green leadership, we urge you to demand equal attention on NEM cost burdens to ensure they are equitably distributed and not falling disproportionately on those with too few voices representing them.”

“When it comes to NEM, it is wrong that the current policy is burdening those least able to pay with so much of the cost. It is wrong that Californians who qualify for low-income assistance are helping to pay for solar systems for celebrities. It is wrong that renters and people who cannot afford rooftop solar are paying for those who do. It is wrong when a vocal, financially self-interested minority is attempting to drown out the voiceless.”

“Ignoring these facts or sweeping them under the rug will hurt the state’s transition to clean energy in the long run.”