I hope you enjoyed your victory lap, but now it is back to the demanding task of defending rooftop solar.
AB 1139 was an attack out of the blue that we were able to collectively defeat - but it was never supposed to be the main event. As we have explained before, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was already set to release the next set of rules governing net metering. (You can read my blog post about that process here.) While AB 1139 would have guaranteed that the Investo-Owned Utilities (IOUs) got their intended result even without the CPUC's support, the IOUs are fully engaged in their efforts to make these next rules as onerous as possible. In particular, here is a sampling of elements that they are pressing before the CPUC:
- The highest solar fees in America, charging a typical residential consumer an unavoidable fee of $78 per month on average just to have solar on their roof.
- Non-residential customers would also be hit with huge fees. A typical school, for example, wanting to invest in solar would be charged an unavoidable $950 monthly fee in PG&E territory, $1,100 in Southern California Edison territory, and $3,400 per month in the San Diego area.
- Reduces the credit consumers receive for surplus solar electricity sent back to the grid on hot summer days by 77%. This means that when a solar user shares electricity with their neighbor, the utility will charge the neighbor 25 cents while giving the solar user 5.7 cents in bill credits.
- In addition to the new fees and cuts, the IOU proposal would also require monthly true-ups, preventing consumers from carrying forward their unused credits from month to month.
I know what you are thinking - surely nothing like this could ever be put in place, not here, not in sunny, progressive California!
AB 1139 was defeated because we brought massive pressure to bear on our individual Assemblymembers. Like all elected officials, the pay attention when their constituents speak out - that's how they keep their jobs, after all.
But the Commissioners on the CPUC are unelected bureaucrats, who don't have constituents to whom they must answer. Indeed, they are almost completely anoymous, subject to precious little public scrutiny. (When was the last time you heard a news report that named any of them? Me neither.)
But let's change that, shall we? Here they are, in all their glory (with links to their full bios):
|Marybel Batjer, President||Marybel Batjer was named President of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on July 12, 2019, by Governor Gavin Newsom and sworn in on August 16, 2019. On December 30, 2020, Governor Newsom reappointed her as President. Her term ends January 1, 2027.||
|Martha Guzman Aceves||Martha Guzman Aceves was appointed Commissioner at the CPUC by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on Dec. 28, 2016. Her term ends in 2023.||
|Clifford Rechtschaffen||Clifford Rechtschaffen was appointed to the California Public Utilities Commission by Governor Jerry Brown in January 2017. His term ends in 2024.||
|Genevieve Shiroma||Genevieve Shiroma was appointed to the CPUC by Governor Newsom on Jan. 22, 2019. Her term ends in 2026.||
|Darcie L. Houck||Commissioner Darcie L. Houck was appointed to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) by Governor Gavin Newsom on Feb. 9, 2021. She formerly served as Chief Counsel for the California Energy Commission since 2019.||
Tellingly, there are no email addresses or phone numbers listed for any of these Commissioners on the website. Funny that.
So how do we get our voices heard? Keen observers will have already realized that the one thing these five folks all have in common is that they were appointed by the Governor - either Brown or Newsom. And it is at that leverage point that the campaign to Save California Solar is focused. While he cannot tell the CPUC what to do, his leadership - assuming we can summon it - would certainly have an impact.
Our campaign to influence Governor Newsom is fully engaged with more than 30,000 people signing on. Are you one of them? If so, great; stick around there will be more asks soon. But if not, now is the time to stand up for California Solar. It's easy - just:
SMASH THIS LINK
and sign the petition. We beat AB 1139, we can win this fight as well as long as we have you onboard.