NEM Reform Coalition Again Urges CPUC to Enact “Long Overdue” Reforms
Posted on August 24, 2022
Sacramento – Today, Affordable Clean Energy for All submitted a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) urging it to ignore baseless and sensationalized protests from the solar industry and immediately enact meaningful reforms to the state’s rooftop solar program, Net Energy Metering (NEM).
It’s been 10 years since the legislature mandated the CPUC to fix the cost burden on non-solar customers, and it’s been 254days since proposed reforms were released last December.
“The very profitable solar industry’s sensationalized opposition to this simple concept is dumbfounding,” said the coalition in the letter. “Surely, we do not expect an increasingly shrinking population of Californians who don’t have or can’t afford rooftop solar to fund the reliability and resiliency of the electric grid for everyone. The solar industry’s claim that proposed reforms are discriminatory is not only false, but offensive to the millions of customers who have been paying an unfair and effectively regressive tax on their electric bills for years to fund the excessive subsidies mandated by this program.”
“What in the world are they waiting for,” said coalition member Reverend Frank Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of Village Solutions Foundation. “The state’s policymakers and regulators know the cost burden of this nearly 30-year-old program is falling disproportionally on renters and low-income communities. They know what they need to do to fix it. It’s frustrating that NEM reform is not a higher priority when so many families are struggling to make ends meet.”
“For too long it has been acceptable to quietly push the growing cost of this rooftop solar subsidy program on to those least able to pay,” said Azizza Davis Goines, President and CEO of the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce. “Surely regulators don’t care more about the wealth and profits of the solar industry than they do about real people who are suffering. The billions in new rooftop solar subsidies just approved at the federal level helps ensure the longevity of rooftop solar companies. Now there is no excuse but to fix the unfair cost burden on California’s low-income customers and small businesses.”
Dozens of diverse organizations representing the interests of low- and middle-income Californians, seniors, faith-based, environmental, community groups, and business groups reiterated their frustration in the letter:
- Meeting California’s equity and decarbonization goals requires the elimination of the decades-long unfair cost burden on 90% of Californians without solar who are disproportionally renters and lower income residents.
- Under the current NEM program, costs toward the electric grid that used to be shared more equitably by all customers are being disproportionately paid by non-solar customers. Every day that goes by without reform needlessly raises electricity bills by $12 million per day. That means non-solar customers have paid nearly $3 billion in higher electricity bills so far this year alone, or $250 extra per year, per customer, to cover electric grid costs that are no longer being paid by solar customers. Without change, this amount will grow to more than $550 a year.
- The continued delay in making any meaningful updates to this nearly 30-year-old program has resulted in rooftop solar being the most expensive form of clean energy available.
- The letter also noted that the CPUC’s own report on affordability and other publicly available data validate the urgency for reform:
- The CPUC’s recent SB 695 report on affordability identified NEM as one of “three critical and overlapping policy fronts” that “must be managed to address the risk that high electric rates and bills could slow California’s overall progress toward its electrification and climate goals, and harm some of the state’s most economically vulnerable residents.”
- University of California energy expert validates that NEM disproportionately benefits the wealthy.
- The CPUC’s own analysis in this proceeding validates the cost of NEM significantly exceeds the benefits of the program and raises rates