For Immediate Release
Contact: Maya Batres, GRID Alternatives, firstname.lastname@example.org, 916-585-8542
Oakland, CA – Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a Revised Proposed Decision to update the structure of the state’s net energy metering program, a program that has historically supported access to solar energy for environmental justice communities. The consequences of the proposal could impact millions of Californians who are looking to Governor Newsom for leadership on many issues including the climate crisis and environmental and economic justice. Unfortunately, the CPUC’s proposal falls short of what is needed to help millions of California households access distributed solar and storage and it must be revised.
Since 2004, GRID Alternatives (GRID) has developed and installed 82 megawatts of clean energy projects benefiting 24,000 households in environmental justice communities. For more than a decade, GRID has also worked to diversify the solar industry through its workforce development programs that have placed individuals in 2,300 jobs. Our experience at this intersection makes it clear that there are both measurable benefits to communities who have access to local solar, and that access to clean energy remains deeply inequitable. A wide body of research, including a recent study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory supports our experience.
While GRID is pleased to see that the CPUC is protecting current NEM 1.0 and NEM 2.0 customers in the most recent proposed decision, and is providing a modest incentive for California Alternate Rates for Energy customers, the proposed decision fails to address the needs of all environmental justice community members.
By providing only modest incentives to the narrowest definition of “low-income,” the proposed decision has the effect of ignoring millions of (lower-income) households that now have a more difficult time affording solar or solar and storage. This narrow definition is in conflict with the CPUC’s own definition of Environmental Justice Communities. As it stands, this will slow California’s progress on transitioning to a clean economy, and even further exclude lower or moderate income communities from accessing clean energy.
Furthermore, the proposal does not account for the many barriers, including higher installation costs, facing lower-income, and hard-to-reach customers. Accurately accounting for higher installation costs is a critical part of ensuring that the tariff will work for all future customers.
“GRID is disappointed that the Revised Proposed Decision does not do more to ensure all Californians can participate in a distributed clean energy future. Right now, the Commission underestimates the installed cost for hard-to-reach customers. Getting this wrong jeopardizes the ability of the sub-tariff to meet the lawful requirements of AB 327.” said Erica Mackie, GRID’s Co-Founder and CEO. “With hearings and a public comment period on the horizon for this proposed decision, GRID is calling on the California Public Utilities Commission to create a more equitable distributed generation market by adhering to many of the specific recommendations of their own Environmental and Social Justice Action Plan. The Commission has one last opportunity to use accurate, on-the-record installed cost data. We hope they do."
It is critical that the California Public Utilities Commission, and other utility commissions across the nation, understand the equity implications of the process of proceedings like NEM 3.0 and their outcomes. The revised proposed decision creates an exceedingly complex tariff structure that makes it more difficult to responsibly serve communities of concern. The proposed decision will have the effect of creating additional burden to communicate clearly and accurately to achieve trust and bring in more clients.
GRID Alternatives will continue to participate in the Net Energy Metering Rulemaking, advocating for increased access to clean energy for all Californians.
About GRID Alternatives
Renewable energy can drive economic growth and environmental benefits in communities most impacted by underemployment, pollution and climate change. GRID Alternatives is a leader in helping economic and environmental justice communities get clean, affordable renewable energy, transportation, and jobs. Internationally, our energy access work is lighting up off-grid communities in Nepal, Nicaragua, and Mexico. GRID envisions a rapid, equitable transition to a world powered by renewable energy that benefits everyone.