Saving America’s Rooftop Solar | Environment Maine

Rooftop solar is one of our best clean energy technologies. Faced with opposition from utilities across the country, Americans are defending solar. So what makes solar so powerful, why are utilities fighting it, and how are these fights going?

An energy technology “uniquely powerful and beneficial”

Of the many clean energy technologies that exist today, rooftop solar is particularly powerful and beneficial because it:

  • Reduces conflicts between land conservation and renewable energy production;

  • Reduces the need for expensive long distance transmission infrastructure;

  • Helps build a more resilient power system against wildfires and other climate-related disasters.

Solar on the roofs in danger

Unfortunately, for all its benefits, utility companies and other special interests across the country are undermining rooftop solar.

Many utilities are concerned that falling prices and the growing availability of clean solar energy could threaten their business model, which ties profits to the amount of capital investment made in the grid, and sometimes the amount of electricity sold. .

Our report, Blocking Rooftop Solar, documents how utilities are using their money and influence to push policymakers to cut solar and make it harder for homeowners and small businesses to generate their own clean energy.

One particular policy that utilities are targeting is “net metering”. As of June 2020, 40 states, Washington, DC, and some US territories have adopted net metering policies that ensure solar panel owners receive fair compensation for the clean energy they supply to the power grid. In many of these states, utilities have pushed to change net metering policies and reduce compensation for rooftop solar.

Solar is the most popular energy source in America.

What utilities haven’t taken into account in their efforts to dump policies that support rooftop solar is that Americans of all political stripes love solar power and the policies that support it. support. Year after year, polls consistently show the broad appeal of solar. For instance:

  • In 2021, according to a Pew Research poll, 84% of Americans – a large majority – support the expansion of solar panel farms. Solar tops the charts with support over two-thirds of all ages and political groups. No other energy source has had this level of support.

  • A 2017 national survey by researchers at the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College found that 76% of Americans support net energy measurement. Even among respondents who identified themselves as “very conservative,” 62% said they support net metering.

  • A 2022 poll by Mason-Dixon in Florida found bipartisan support for net metering. An overwhelming 94% of Democrats support net metering while 76% of Republicans also support the measure.

Organizing and advocating to save solar is winning

Thanks to this public support, pro-solar policies are proving resilient to attacks from utility companies. Recently, in California, Florida, and Arkansas, policymakers have maintained policies that fairly compensate solar power owners for excess electricity they sell back to the grid for their neighbors to use.

Save California solar

Thanks in part to the voices of tens of thousands of California residents, regulators shelved a plan that would have put solar power out of reach for most residents of the state.

After policymakers heard opposition from 120,000 Californians and 70 organizations, on February 3, 2022, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced it would delay its controversial rooftop solar plan “until further notice. “. Environment California played a leading role in opposing the anti-solar proposal, which former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called in The New York Times “another case of big players – utilities investor-owned public – fighting for themselves and hurting people who have invested or want to invest in solar panels Environment California had previously worked with Governor Schwarzenegger to successfully implement the Million Solar Roofs initiative.

Environment California is now eagerly awaiting the CPUC’s release of an amended ruling that supports rooftop solar expansion.

Saving Solar Power in the Sunshine State

Executing his first veto of the 2022 legislative session, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed HB 741, a bill that would have gutted net metering in Florida.

Environment Florida and affiliated organizations have campaigned for years to advocate for policies that support solar growth in the Sunshine State. Recently, Environment America worked with the Florida Solar Coalition and Alianza to generate more than 1,000 calls from Floridians for Governor DeSantis urging him to veto the bill. More than 250 Environment Florida members also emailed Governor DeSantis with the same message. According to Governor DeSantis’ Office of Citizen Services, DeSantis received 16,809 emails, letters and phone calls opposing the net metering bill and only 13 in favor.

Saving Solar Power in Arkansas

After a years-long effort to conserve solar power in Arkansas, the Arkansas Court of Appeals recently ruled that solar homeowners in that state will continue to receive the full retail rate for solar power. energy that they resell to the electricity grid.

How to go solar

If you’ve ever thought about switching to solar power but don’t know where to start? Here’s what you need to know about your solar options whether you rent or own:

I anticipate that utility companies won’t let up on their opposition to rooftop solar anytime soon. But I also know that people care deeply about putting solar power on their homes and will continue to rise to the challenge and champion this unique, powerful and beneficial clean energy technology.

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