Several organizations in California, including Californians Against Utilities Stopping Solar Energy (CAUSE), American Lung Association of California, California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) and Presente.org are petitioning the California Energy Commission to quantify the air quality and economic benefits associated with the states “net energy metering” policy.
According to CAUSE, net metering provides solar consumers with fair credit for the energy they put back on the grid, which utilities then sell to other customers. The organization says monopoly utilities in California and across the country are trying to eliminate net metering in order to halt the consumer-driven popularity of rooftop solar.
“By driving the expansion of rooftop solar, net metering helps improve the quality of the air we breathe while creating jobs in our community,” said Dr. Luis Pacheco, Medical Director of the Transitional Care Unit at California Hospital Medical Center and CAUSE co-chair. “These were key considerations when net metering was adopted, and should be included in an assessment of the policy’s overall effectiveness.”
The requested study would supplement analysis of the more limited impact of net metering on non-solar ratepayers’ electric bills and would also include various other benefits including: local job growth and increased employment throughout California; increased local economic activity that generates tax revenue for state and local governments; improved air quality through reduced need for fossil fuel power generation; reduced death and disease associated with fossil fuel power generation; reduced greenhouse gas emissions; lower wholesale market prices for electricity due to decreased demand; and improved grid security and reduced economic costs from power outages.
CAUSE says attention to these additional society impacts comes at a time when Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) have begun to diverge from one another on the impact of net-metered solar on the grid. In a recent ratepayer impact study conducted earlier this year by Crossborder Energy found that net metering will deliver net benefits of more than $92 million per year to California ratepayers.
“Air pollution poses a serious threat to our state’s health. Powering our buildings with on-site clean, renewable energy instead of burning fossil fuels can help reduce harmful air pollution and lower energy costs at the same time,” addedStrela Cervas, co-coordinator of the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “We should better understand the societal benefits associated with net metering before making policy changes.”