In the battle over California’s rooftop solar legislation, a group claiming to represent lower-income consumers, retirees, and environmentalists is running advertisements warning of a cost shift that requires consumers to pay solar for those who live in mansions. This message from Affordable Clean Energy for All is intended to sway opinion as California regulators contemplate measures that would drastically diminish the financial benefits of owning rooftop solar panels.
Affordable Clean Energy for All, on the other hand, is not a grass-roots movement. It’s a public relations campaign funded by large utility companies who stand to gain from rules that harm rooftop solar. Many of the coalition’s 100-plus organisations have received charitable gifts or other financial assistance from the Utilities.
The Utilities‘ campaign follows a familiar template, according to watchdog groups, with community groups giving an approachable face for advocacy messages that line with the Utilities‘. If the outcome is a policy that penalises rooftop solar, it may be a major setback for California’s efforts to achieve net-zero emissions, which rely on the continuous expansion of solar and other customer-owned energy systems.
Despite the fact that some environmentalists distrust the coalition’s motivations, its message resonates with some consumers because there is little doubt that upper- and middle-income homes have received a disproportionately significant amount of solar subsidies. Many community groups, however, believe that injustices can be addressed in a way that accelerates the construction of rooftop solar and energy storage, with a focus on assisting people who struggle the most to pay electricity bills and are more likely than others to feel the effects of climate change.