ICYMI: Current Rooftop Solar Policy is "Inequitable and Worsening

Posted on October 27, 2022

Former U.S. Energy Advisor Says “… households without rooftop solar pay higher rates to meet the revenue needs for fixed costs. This is the real ‘solar tax’”

Sacramento – In a recent op-ed in the Marin Independent Journal, former senior energy advisor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Robert Archer, weighed in on the Net Energy Metering (NEM) solar subsidy program, calling the policy “inequitable and worsening.”

He joins a chorus of other consumer, business, senior, community and environmental groups, along with independent researchers who have advocated for NEM reform to ensure non-solar customers, who are disproportionately lower-income, aren’t paying for costs that should be paid by customers with rooftop solar.

Below are some excerpts from the op-ed:

  • “Recent critiques of the California Public Utility Commission’s proposed solar residential rooftop reforms seem to generate more heat than light.”
  • “Generally overlooked in the reform debates are the economic inequity, high cost and declining benefit of the current policy. Current rooftop solar policy is inequitable and worsening.”
  • “The crux of the problem is that rooftop solar households don’t fully contribute to utility fixed costs: transmission and distribution, wildfire mitigation and compensation, energy efficiency programs, low-income subsidies and early technology investments, to name a few.”
  • “So, households without rooftop solar pay higher rates to meet the revenue needs for fixed costs. This is the real ‘solar tax’”.
  • “Current rooftop solar owners have had and will continue to have a good deal. According to Consumers Checkbook, the average payback and profit for current Bay Area solar households is six years and $28,557. Payments currently extend for 20 years and the CPUC proposes to scale it back to 16 years.”
  • “California’s high electricity rates, outmoded residential rooftop solar policy and other actions are leading to higher and higher electricity prices. This is the wrong direction and undermines the greater policy objective: widespread electrification.”
  • “The current rooftop solar policy, despite its initial success, has lingered long past the time of being equitable or efficient. When the facts change, policy needs to change.”