New Poll: 58% of California Voters Believe California’s Rooftop Solar Subsidy Program Must Be Modernized or Eliminated

Posted on March 31, 2022

Sacramento – A new poll by democratic pollster David Binder Research found that strong majorities of California voters believe the state’s rooftop solar subsidy program, Net Energy Metering (NEM), should be updated. They strongly support proposals to make the NEM program more equitable and reduce the cost burden it imposes on non-solar customers. Voters also believe that all electricity customers — those with solar panels and those without – should contribute toward the use of and maintenance of the electric grid. Support for these proposals is consistent across party, ethnicity, region, income level and from both homeowners and renters.

Link to the toplines and memo. The survey of 600 voters, 9% of whom have solar panels, was conducted between March 16-18, 2022.

“These findings reinforce that voters are clearly in tune with proposals to reform the current NEM program to make it fairer for all and to reduce the unfair cost shift that hurts renters and low-income customers the most,” said Deborah Howard, Board Secretary and Treasurer, California Senior Advocates League. “We need to listen to the will of the voters and make sensible reforms now.”

By Three-to-One Margin, Voters Say Change is Needed

After hearing a neutral description of the NEM program, nearly 60% of voters say change to NEM is needed. Forty-five percent (45%) of voters say NEM should be modernized, and 13% of voters want to eliminate the program altogether. Only 19% believe the NEM program should be kept as is – a 3-1 margin of those who believe change is needed vs. those that support the status quo. 

SURVEY QUESTION: California’s rooftop solar subsidy program was launched in 1995 to provide incentives to homeowners to install rooftop panels. Customers without solar pay higher electric bills each month to subsidize this program for solar customers.  It’s been 25 years since the state’s rooftop solar program was established. This year, state regulators are considering proposals to update it. Which statement best reflects what you think state regulators should do about the rooftop solar subsidy program?








Support for NEM modernization is strong no matter voter party identification, ethnicity, income level or whether homeowner or renter.












Strong Support for Specific Proposals to Modernize Rooftop Solar Program

Voters also expressed strong support for multiple ways to reform NEM including 61% who said that all electricity customers should contribute toward their use of the electric grid and 57% who said the subsidy program should be funded out of the state general fund. 









After More Information 72% of Voters Believe Change is Needed

When voters hear arguments from both sides of the rooftop solar program debate, they side with statements in favor of modernization, and this also causes overall support for modernization of the program to increase, from 45% to 57%. 

Overall, the percentage of California voters who want something different from the status quo is 72% (57% who want NEM to be modernized and 15% who want to eliminate it), compared to the 19% who want the rooftop solar program to remain unchanged.








Voter support for change is consistent across party, region, ethnicity, homeowners and renters.


David Binder Research conducted 600 interviews from March 16th to March 18th, 2022. The survey used mixed modes of 50% telephone (mobiles and landlines) and 50% online text-to-web. Respondents were likely November 2022 voters in California and included 9% of voters with solar panels. The margin of the sampling error is ±4.0% at the 95% confidence level.