California Gov. Jerry Brown may be strutting his stuff at the Paris climate change conference, but environmentalists are fuming over the exclusion of rooftop solar panels from the Golden State’s renewable energy plans.
Brown signed a law last month that requires the state to obtain half of its electricity–somehow–from renewable sources by 2030 (up from about 25% in 2014). Yet the law does not count electricity generated by homeowners in rooftop solar panels towards meeting that ambitious energy goal.
All Californians are affected by the exclusion of rooftop solar, since utility companies will have to pay more to find renewable energy elsewhere, raising rates even more than they will already rise. “We all think we’re making a difference and contributing,” Livermore resident Carrie McCandless told the Sacramento Bee. “I’m just so angry.” Watchdog groups claim that powerful big solar companies worked to exclude homeowners from the state’s energy mix.
“Representatives of the rooftop solar industry would suggest it’s all about special-interest power and politics: The large-scale solar farms and the unions who represent their workers don’t want the competition,” the San Francisco Chronicle has reported.
Moreover, the expiration of federal tax credits, and the possible imposition of new fees by utility companies, threaten to drive the rooftop solar industry out of business entirely.
If renewable energy were really the state’s goal, it is difficult to see why rooftop solar would have been excluded. Currently, according to Greentech, California leads the nation in rooftop solar electricity generation. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger set a goal of one million solar roofs, but new fees planned by California utilities make that goal impossible, the Chronicle reports.
The new policy looks less like a genuine push for renewable energy, and more like a vehicle to reward utilities, big business, and unions–using the self-righteous rhetoric of climate change as a cover, despite Brown’s preening in Paris.