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Speakers blast proposed solar fees, defend energy choice against monopoly

October 9, 2015 (San Diego) - San Diego rallied to “SDG&E, Don’t Block the Sun!” on Wednesday, as hundreds gathered to protest San Diego Gas and Electric’s (SDG&E) proposal to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that would cripple rooftop solar power and eliminate customer choice, according to opponents. A crowd of more than two hundred people, including ratepayers, business leaders, a Grammy-winning artist, and the Hip Hop Caucus’ nationwide bus tour, rallied outside Sempra Energy’s headquarters to defend customers’ ability to go solar.

“For the first time, SDG&E has some competition, and they don’t like it,” said Pete Hasapopoulos, organizer for the Sierra Club’s My Generation campaign. “With these new fees, SDG&E is trying to block solar power just as it is becoming available to a wider range of businesses and families in San Diego. We stand here united to protect energy choice and solar power in San Diego.”

SDG&E’s proposal includes a number of changes that would destroy electricity bill savings for new rooftop solar customers, including significant new fees and charges on solar customers, and slash the price that solar users receive for the excess power they generate and provide to the grid. The effect of these changes would be to cripple rooftop solar power, block competition and effectively eliminate customer choice,” a press release from the Sierra Club states.

“Rooftop solar power gives consumers unprecedented choice and control over their energy future,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association, which participated in today’s events. “SDG&E has no business pressuring state regulators to eliminate competition by gutting pro-solar policies like net metering.”

The thrust of SDG&E’s proposal is to end net energy metering, a critical state policy that makes rooftop solar possible for most users. Net metering allows ratepayers with solar panels to receive fair compensation for the excess electricity from their rooftop solar panels that is sent back into the grid. Net metering has been the foundation of California’s growing rooftop solar industry, as it enables lower-cost financing models, like solar leasing, that put solar within reach of middle class and lower-income homes across the state. In recent years, growth of rooftop solar has boosted California’s supply of clean energy, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and helped create more than 54,000 solar jobs across the state, all while giving customers choice and challenging monopolies like SDG&E for the first time.

The Sierra Club recently released an in-depth report about the different ways rooftop solar power contributes to California - including reducing negative health effects from air pollution; reducing carbon emissions; adding stability and resiliency to the grid; and saving water.

SDG&E’s proposal is being considered by the CPUC, which will decide whether to accept or reject SDG&E’s anti-solar proposal by the end of the year.

The rally featured live performances by Malik Yusef, a five-time Grammy Award winning poet, and Antonique Smith, a Grammy-nominated recording artist and actress. Speakers included Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. President of the Hip-Hop Caucus; as well as Stephen Statler, a solar homeowner from Rancho Bernardo; Daniel Sullivan, President of Sullivan Solar Power; Alejandro Montes, a Sierra Club volunteer activist; and others.

California’s two other major utilities, PG&E and Southern California Edison, have submitted similar proposals, which would remove energy choice for customers and threaten California’s progress on solar power. Rallies against those proposals are planned for later this month. 


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