Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 10, 2022

Contact:

Maya Golden-Krasner, (213) 215-3729, mgoldenkrasner@biologicaldiversity.org

California’s Revised Net Metering Plan Still Fails Environmental Justice Communities

SAN FRANCISCO— The California Public Utilities Commission’s proposed revised state net-metering plan, released today, abandons the hefty solar tax from last year’s proposal but still threatens to put affordable renewable energy out of reach for most communities.

“This new plan is an improvement, but it still misses the mark when it comes to addressing environmental justice,” said Maya Golden-Krasner, deputy director at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “California needs a strong net-metering program to achieve a just transition away from fossil fuels and utility monopoly control. The commission needs to strengthen renewable energy solutions that benefit marginalized communities. To do otherwise leaves these folks behind and pays lip service to the commission’s mandate to provide safe, affordable, reliable energy to all Californians.”

Last year the commission faced tremendous opposition when it proposed adding a grid participation charge, or solar tax, that could have eliminated rooftop solar in California. It shelved that proposal and came back today with substantial revisions.

But today’s proposed decision from administrative law Judge Kelly A. Hymes continues to rely on California’s avoided-cost calculator to determine the value of distributed solar exports.

The calculator, a method for determining reimbursement for excess electricity that’s returned to the grid, ignores many benefits of distributed solar and net metering, such as grid reliability, significant reduction in greenhouse gas and other air pollution, and local economic benefits, including new jobs. That disproportionally harms environmental justice communities and makes it harder for low-income residents and communities to afford rooftop solar systems.

More than 125 California and national climate and equity groups representing millions of people have urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to ensure that any net metering program account for the many benefits of distributed solar by maintaining the state’s solar credit to grow rooftop solar, especially in environmental justice communities.

The groups’ letter said regulators are basing their proposal on flawed modeling that does not consider the benefits of net-metering to environmental justice communities, such as decreasing the state’s dependency on fossil fuels and the local economic benefits that net-metering offers.

The commission also failed to analyze non-solar customer bills and ignored or underestimated the benefits of net metering and the harms from fossil fuel energy, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color.

The plan released today failed to correct those errors. The commission will hear oral arguments on this new proposal Nov. 16.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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