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Climate and Environment

California Quietly Postpones Vote On Controversial Rooftop Solar Energy Proposal

Three men wearing masks and hard hats hold a blue sign with white and orange lettering that says "Save Green Jobs, Stop the Solar Tax!"
Solar workers rally in downtown L.A. on Jan. 13, 2022 to protest the California Public Utilities Commission's proposal to increase the cost of rooftop solar.
(Erin Stone
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The fight over California’s successful rooftop solar program may not be over quite yet.

The California Public Utilities Commission, the state agency that oversees utilities, quietly tabled a vote on a controversial proposal that would make putting solar panels on rooftops more expensive. The vote was scheduled for January 27, but earlier this week, it was removed from the agenda.

The proposal would cut returns for new solar customers by as much as 80% and add monthly fees to solar-powered homes. You can read more about it here.

Just last week, hundreds of solar workers and their supporters rallied in downtown L.A. to protest the proposed changes to rooftop solar incentives. They say it’ll decimate the solar industry and make solar even less accessible for people with low incomes.

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“When we look at the solar industry and we talk about the transition to a clean energy economy, it presents a massive opportunity for the communities that we serve to be participants within this transition, and we’re really for a just transition,” said Adewale OgunBadejo, workforce development manager with non-profit GRID Alternatives in L.A. They provide rooftop solar and solar job training in lower-income communities, such as Watts.

It’s unclear what the delay means when it comes to changing the proposed policy. Terrie Prosper, a spokesperson for the state utility commission, wrote via email that the commission has received new comments on the proposal that need to be considered. That, combined with having two new commissioners — one of whom hasn’t started yet — prompted the delay.

In his first comments on the issue last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said “changes need to be made” to the proposal.

A new date for the vote has not yet been decided on.

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