Demand for Solar Reaches New Heights!
October 19, 2015 - In October 2015, environmental justice nonprofit Brightline Defense (Brightline) and the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) commissioned a poll showing that California voters overwhelmingly support rooftop solar. This statewide poll of registered California voters is especially timely as the California Public Utilities Commission deliberates about the future of the state's successful net energy metering policy. Their decision determines the rate at which solar customers are reimbursed for energy they put back into the grid, which will enormously impact the future financial viability of rooftop solar and solar jobs throughout California.
According to the poll, 90% of California voters support rooftop solar as the preferable way to produce electricity. In contrast, only 30% say that coal, a dirty fossil fuel source, is an acceptable source of power. Eighty percent disapprove of utility attempts to reduce solar energy credits by more than 50%; 72% believe that rooftop solar customers should be reimbursed for the excess power they produce at the same rate they would buy energy from their utility. The numbers show that Californians strongly support current rooftop solar policy, especially around net metering.
Further, the poll shows strong support for policies that increase the availability of solar power to low-income communities. 68% support requirements for new residential buildings to have solar panels, which would make solar energy more accessible to low-income and middle-income communities. 60% support the expansion of current programs that help low-income families to install solar, even if that expansion results in small rate increases for other customers. In other words, support for solar policies targeting low-income communities remains rock-solid as Californians will pay more to ensure solar access for everyone.
Finally, the poll shows that Californians see rooftop solar as an important way to achieve environmental justice. 82% of Californians see it as an important tool that individuals can use to reduce climate change, and 74% of respondents say that rooftop solar will help to reduce air pollution in poor neighborhoods where heavily polluting power plants are usually built. Perhaps most significant, 73% agree that solar creates thousands of local jobs every year and will lead the state's future economy.
This poll continues a six-year trend bending toward environmental justice, when state regulators were still weighing retrofitting fossil fuel power plants against cleaner alternatives such as rooftop solar in 2009. After a successful campaign shutting down the Potrero Power Plant sited near San Francisco's low-income communities of color, Brightline has consistently fought for a strong workforce development system to connect workers to good-paying jobs in solar, particularly with San Francisco's landmark solar incentives programs. Voters agree that solar energy is good for California and that changes to the current net energy metering policy will greatly diminish the potential beneficial impact of rooftop solar. They also support additional progressive policies for solar to target low-income communities of color and increase solar access for all.
"With the right policymaking, rooftop solar does more than allow customers to reduce their monthly utility bills; it can also benefit low-income customers while creating good jobs and reducing the effects of climate change," said Eddie Ahn, Brightline's Executive Director. "Brightline will continue to champion more solar for everyone in the future."
The survey was conducted by J. Moore Methods of Sacramento between Oct. 5-11, 2015. The telephone survey's results are based on responses from 1,000 completed interviews of registered voters. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.