Ismael Alonzo, a solar installer for AltSys Solar, Inc., fastens new solar panels to the roof of a garage behind a southwest Fresno home in this 2017 file photo. By David Castellon

published on January 19, 2022 - 2:08 PM
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Central Valley community leaders are calling on Gov. Newsom to protect solar power in California during a webinar on Tuesday morning.

Local leaders and environmental organizations joined the statewide advocacy group Environment California to voice their response to the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) proposal to significantly cut the state’s solar energy incentive program known as net metering.

Local leaders calling for the governor to protect consumers’ ability to effectively adopt solar energy by amending the utility’s proposal include Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer. Speakers at the webinar included Co-director of the Central California Asthma Collaborative Dr. Kevin Hamilton and Rev. Tim Kutzmark from Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno.

“I have seen the positive impacts solar has on Fresno and Valley communities,” Dyer said in a statement. “I am concerned this proposal, as written, could have a negative effect on that progress and development, which would be bad for all of California and its clean energy efforts.”

Net metering is an electricity billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. Those credits could be cut as much as 80% for new solar customers and some existing ones.

Under the CPUC’s proposal, solar customers would also be charged a new monthly fixed “grid participation charge” of $57 on average.

During the first 10 years, a $15 credit would partially offset the fee, with that amount eventually being phased out. Low income and commercial customers would not be subject to the monthly fee.

“CPUC’s proposal shows a complete disregard for the promises made to resident solar roof adopters by the past three governors to first establish and then dramatically increase the number of solar rooftops in California,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton added the proposal reneges on contracts signed by millions of solar rooftop owners who were guaranteed price and rate in return for reducing their greenhouse gas footprint and producing clean energy.

“I call on Gov. Newsom and all our elected officials to do all they can to promote and protect residential solar rooftop power in California,” Kutzmark said.

A decision on the new rules could come as soon as Jan. 27.

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