As Utilities Run Scared, the “Right to Rooftop Solar” Movement Picks up Steam in Latino Communities

August 27, 2013


The big utilities in California like Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric are heavily lobbying Latino leaders in the State Legislature. The utilities are trying to get Latino leaders to support efforts to obstruct California’s rooftop solar growth. California Latino voters support rooftop solar by wide margins. Latino leaders in the state legislature should listen to Latino voters instead of siding with the big utilities.


..a recent bill introduced by Fresno-area Assembly member Henry T. Perea, AB 327, which would penalize ratepayers who have net-metered rooftop solar, reflecting a repeatedly-countered utility talking point that people who generate their own electricity aren’t paying their fair share of the state’s grid operation cost. Perea’s bill would allow utilities to charge a monthly $10 fee for access to the grid, though that could be reduced to $5 a month for households making under 200 percent the state poverty line. points out that families asked to provide an additional $120 a year to the electric company might find that a disincentive to going solar. The group has teamed up with the Sierra Club’s My Generation campaign and the economic democracy group The Other 98%to oppose bills like Perea’s, and the coalition created an online petition along those lines.

Utility Dive:

Southern California Edison (SCE) “hates rooftop solar.” That’s the premise of a fake, satirical commercial (see below) made by, a Latino activist organization. teamed up with the Sierra Club and The Other 98% for its “Save Rooftop Solar” campaign, which seeks to fight big utilities’ antagonism towards rooftop solar.

The organization argues that California utilities such as SCE, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) “are heavily lobbying Latino leaders” to get them to “support efforts to obstruct California’s rooftop solar growth” even though “California Latino voters support rooftop solar by wide margins,” according to Arturo Carmona, Executive Director of

The big utilities like Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric have traditionally relied on the big profits they make from bloated dirty energy projects. Dirty energy projects – like natural gas plants – are often built in poor communities, polluting our air and guzzling up water resources at a time of record droughts.

That’s why the big utilities feel threatened by the growth of California’s rooftop solar revolution. More clean energy means more local jobs for our communities but fewer profits for the utilities’ traditional dirty energy business model.

Two-thirds of new solar installations are now taking place in middle class and low income communities. This means that more and more families are now able to benefit from the economic benefits that solar energy brings. In addition, rooftop solar projects are expected to save California schools and public buildings $2.5 billion over the next thirty years, helping to free up much needed funding for teachers and student programs.

This is not the time to obstruct the growth of rooftop solar. Our state’s entire clean energy economy depends on moving forward, not backwards on solar.

Tell Latino Legislators – Save Rooftop Solar

Big utilities are heavily lobbying Latino leaders in the California state legislature. They are trying to add huge fixed charges to energy bills for families in Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric territories. These fixed charges would amount to $10 a month, or $120 annually, and could not be avoided by conserving energy or using rooftop solar energy. This would hurt local solar job growth and put energy savings out of reach for families in the most vulnerable communities, particularly in Latino neighborhoods, that can benefit from clean energy solutions the most.

Send a message to the Latino caucus in the California State Legislature to protect rooftop solar growth from the big utilities’ power grab!

Apparently not content to be merely clueless about solar energy,  but internet communication as well, Southern California Edison has sent a “cease and desist” letter to the video’s creators.


11 Responses to “As Utilities Run Scared, the “Right to Rooftop Solar” Movement Picks up Steam in Latino Communities”

  1. I’m confused. Why is an annual fee of $120 (or $60) to use the grid as an energy producer, in addition to being an energy consumer, unreasonable?

    • andrewfez Says:

      $120 isn’t bad. But watch that turn into $200, then $300, then $500 if you allow these folks to structure a right to charge a customer like that.

      If the $120 went to updating the grid, that would be one thing, but more than likely it’s just going to be used to keep business as usual going.

    • ahaveland Says:

      I think the logical extrapolation of where we are going is a planetary wide peer-to-peer internet of energy, analogous to the Internet of data.
      A distributed fee to maintain the grid seems entirely reasonable, using a similar model that we currently have – providers share the cost of their connections because both sides benefit.
      However, with energy, those that consume more, should pay more.
      Those that produce more, should earn more.
      The cost of maintaining the grid can be distributed, democratized and be open and transparent – and this is a threat to the current oligopolistic model.
      It’ll be challenging.

    • petersjazz Says:

      In principal, its like if you dentist bills you extra if you havent any holes. For not using the service. You are stupid if you dont understand that its wrong.

  2. […] Description: The big utilities in California like Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric are heavily lobbying Latino leaders in the State Legislatu…  […]

  3. greenman3610 Says:

    I think what’s going on here is that there is no far sighted plan to evolve the grid in response to the technological changes that almost anyone with a modest grasp of the issue can see coming – there is instead this kind of ad-hoc, improvised, slap-on-a-tariff-to-slow-it-down-while-we-think-about-it-and-keep-doing-the-same-old-shit approach, that’s simple serves to create resentment.
    Real change will involve changes in regulatory policy, which are the domain of legislatures, and the public service commissions which directly implement how utilities are structured and compensated.

    • petersjazz Says:

      But really, you have a long way to go Before rooftop solar will really be a technical problem. Now its just a economical problem for utility.

  4. Gingerbaker Says:

    A perfectly eloquent argument for nationalization of electric utilities.

  5. Utilities are not known for being nimble.

    This is what I think (at this instant). Electric utilities should distribute, not own, power production to power consumers. A customer can be both a supplier and a consumer. Electric utilities should balance supply and demand by managing the market price in 15 minute increments based upon an automated bid/ask regime. Electric utilities should predict supply and demand based upon conditions.

    Customers should pay a small percentage markup for power supplied and consumed. (Or charge one side of the transaction if revenue neutral.) Customers should pay a fixed price for the maximum power (“bandwidth”) they can supply or consume. Customers should pay a fixed price for using the infrastructure. The infrastructure is not just wires. It’s also the significant IT service to manage the load and track transactions. Since balancing load does require information about immediate supplier capability, including rooftop solar collectors, a small fee is not unreasonable. A $60 flat rate is a sledgehammer that should be a chisel. The true cost of managing the variability is probably proportional to the size of the installation. If the solar installation is “behind the meter”, there would be no distribution charge, but it would optimally be factored into the utility’s prediction algorithm.

  6. The rooftop solar community is business that deserves a rate of return on their investment. Far from being a drag on the transmission system, they are a boon to it because they reduce the peak load at the demand sites in a distributed way. They decrease the need for transmission from the centralized plants just when its needed at the highest point of energy demand during the day. So charging them for hooking up to the grid is backwards. They should be paid, not the utilities. What the utilities are doing is adding a tax and pocketing the savings they get from not having to invest in transmission.

    Click to access solval.pdf

    Click to access AZ-Distributed-Generation.pdf

    The second report for APS (Arizona) shows that the benefit to the utility is greater than the amount paid to the rooftop solar energy providers. Cutting through the industry jargon, the report says that solar reduces transmission costs particularly on transformers, because it decreases wear and tear.

    The problem is that rooftop solar economics actually undermine the utilities investments in centralized power and transmission. It puts them out of business in a business where capital is lifeblood. This economic reality is merely showing that distributed solar generation has a very high value, possibly even higher than peaking turbines. In the end, what really threatens the utilities is that they no longer have a monopoly. Since when is that a good thing if we can do better with competition? People have a right to choose. Why should we force them to choose expensive alternatives that line the pockets of the utilities instead of saving money for households? If the utilities were smart, they would realize the solution to this quandary is to get in the rooftop solar business (installation, finance, etc.) since the economics are guiding the way. Current law may restrict this. Distributed solar by nature is not monopolistic and puts power back in the hands of individuals. The real problem is that utilities are stuck in an outmoded and outdated mind set that will lead to their demise. Its like the phone company forcing cell phone users to pay for pay phone boxes. Ridiculous. Public utilities were set up to shield ratepayers from abuses by the utilities who could hold a monopoly because of the generation system. It was never intended to shield the utilities from competition

  7. MorinMoss Says:

    Is it irony or hypocrisy that SoCal Edison has the Sun in their logo?

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