Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Rooftop Solar Rally

Protesters gathered at Plaza Olvera Thursday to oppose new plan to reduce rooftop solar incentives (photos from Polly Estabrook pictured holding sign)

A diverse coalition of organizations staged a rally at Olvera Plaza Thursday afternoon to urge Governor Gavin Newsom to save rooftop solar from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)’s new plan that would dramatically cut incentives for new rooftop solar installations. Windsor Square resident and member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Sustainability Committee Polly Estabrook joined the rally organized by California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA), the Solar Rights Alliance, a nonprofit association of solar energy users, Environment California,  the Council of Mexican Federations in North America (COFEM), an immigrant rights organization, various Indivisible LA groups, and other community organizations.

The COFEM speakers voiced their opposition to the CPUC’s proposed Net Energy Metering (NEM) 3.0 decision as it would reduce the financial benefits of solar energy and decrease the number of solar installations in the state. Dave Rosenfeld, director of the Solar Rights Alliance, called on residents to contact Governor Newsom to ask him to keep rooftop solar growing in order to keep the state on track to meet its climate goals.

“The utilities are lobbying our government to slow down solar by cutting rooftop solar credit overnight,” said Rosenfeld. Rooftop solar is now growing fastest in working and middle class neighborhoods and Governor Newson is only person now who can stop the CPUC’s proposal from going forward, explained Rosenfeld.

The rally was one of nine held in other cities around the state.  The purpose of the rallies was to draw attention to the CPUC NEM 3.0 proposal and to urge residents to lobby the governor to veto the CPUC plan.  The CPUC will vote on adopting the NEM 3.0 plan at their next meeting on December 15.

“It is imperative that we stop the CPUC from going forward with this NEM plan,” Estabrook told the Buzz. “Growing rooftop solar is the fastest and most cost-effective way to ensure that California meets the climate goals that Governor Newsom has advocated for and that we all will benefit from.”

“The new proposal would cut the benefit for almost all new rooftop solar customers by 75%,” wrote Jen Levin, Windsor Square resident and one of the founders of H.O.D.G. in an email message to her grassroots network. “Under current rules, households that send excess power to the grid receive credits on their utility bills that are equivalent to retail electricity rates. The system of credits is known as net energy metering (NEM).  More generous credits typically encourage people to buy solar panels. Cutting those credits keeps solar out of reach for most folks. In fact, when a similar reduction was instated in NV, AZ and HI, it led to a DRASTIC REDUCTION in local solar installations.”

Investor owned energy companies are urging the reductions saying the incentives hurt poor and low-income households because they can’t afford solar installation. In what has been described as a compromise, the CA PUC  is proposing to keep the compensation for existing solar installation but roll it back for any new customers. Solar advocates say the solution is to make solar installation more accessible to low income households as prices are coming down.

“The new ruling will mean fewer solar installations — that’s been shown in other states,” wrote Levin. “We need MORE solar right now, not less. And although yes, there is an equity issue, which should absolutely be addressed (there is already a program in place that lowers the cost of electricity by 35% for some. How about lowering that more?) but to me, none of this is as vital as making sure this remains a livable planet.”

If you are thinking of installing rooftop solar, this issue should be of great interest. It’s also a good idea to become more informed and get more involved because local decisions by states and cities are likely to determine how much progress the U.S. will make toward reaching the nation’s climate goals.

Esterbrook has invited Victoria Simon, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Sustainability Office to speak to the GWNC Sustainsibility Committee at their next meeting on Tuesday, December 6. Esterbrook has asked Simon to update the neighborhood on the progress the city has made toward achieving the goals set forth in LA’s Green New Deal. The presentation will be on Zoom.  Everyone is invited.

(l-r) Polly Estabrook, Sonja Berndt, Phil Glosserman join rally to demonstrate support for expanding rooftop solar installations as essential to meet the state’s climate goals.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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    • Jack,
      Yes, “The CPUC regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies, in addition to authorizing video franchises.” (see CPUC website)

      The municipally owned utilities, like LADWP, can establish their own net energy metering system for their customers. When the discussion on NEM 3.0 started, Mayor Garcetti stated that LADWP would NOT change their NEM policies. However, we now have a new mayor. In general the municipally owned utilities look to the CPUC to establish the framework for NEM and they modify their policies accordingly. As I understand it, there is no guarantee that LADWP will not change their policy.

      Please come to the GWNC Sustainability Meeting on Tuesday 12/6 and ask Victoria Smith, from LA Mayor’s Sustainability Office, this question. Zoom link is 

      THANK YOU for your comment.

      I believe that we, in LA, should still care about NEM3 as it will impact the growth of local solar systems and hence the speed with which Californians can transition to renewable energy.

      Here is some background on how Net Energy Metering started via passage of SB 656 in 1996. The original idea was to stimulate solar growth by incentivizing renewable energy installations with bill credits for selling energy back to the grid. Per “This bill would require every electric utility in the state, including a privately owned or publicly owned public utility, municipally owned utility, and electrical cooperative that offers residential electrical service, whether or not the entity is subject to the jurisdiction of the commission, to develop a standard contract or tariff providing for net energy metering, as defined, to be available to eligible customer-generators, as defined, pursuant to specified conditions.


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