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January 12, 2024



For the "We are governed by idiots" file: This was 110% predictable. From CalMatters:

The state’s decision has caused consumer demand for residential solar to plummet since the new rate took effect. Solar companies say they’ve been shoved to the edge of a cliff, forcing them to lay off workers or even shut down.

In all, about 82% fewer customers applied for solar connections from May through November of last year compared to a year earlier. Fewer than 4,000 customers applied in November, the last month with available data.

The new rule’s impact on the solar industry has been immediate. As many as 17,000 solar workers in California might have lost their jobs by the end of last year, according to industry estimates.

It’s not just homes: The utilities commission in November voted to expand the lower payment rates to commercial businesses and multifamily homes that install solar panels.

A spokesperson for the Public Utilities Commission did not answer CalMatters’ questions about the impact of the recent steep declines in solar projects or the job losses in the industry and declined to make anyone available for an interview.

Solar industry executives say California’s rate changes are affecting low- and middle-income homeowners, where rooftop solar had begun to gain inroads. The Berkeley Lab reported that in 2022 about 45% of solar adopters nationwide were below a threshold used to define low and moderate income. In California, household incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 are the largest segment of solar customers, the report found.

As the solar market has matured, costs have come down, allowing homeowners of modest means to adopt solar systems and lower their utility bills.

“Rooftop solar is not just the wealthy homeowners anymore,” said state Sen. Josh Becker, a San Mateo Democrat. “Central Valley people are suffering from extreme heat. The industry has been making great strides in low-income communities. This (utilities commission decision) makes it harder.”
One could ask what Becker did about this back when the CPUC was debating the move? And what will he do now?
You can click through to see the impact on people of color, etc that the author, Julie Cart, interviews.


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