California conservation organizations continue pushing for net metering preservation
Fifty-five environmental groups sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), calling on them to oppose changes in net meters “that will push back California’s clean energy and environmental goals.”
Grid metering is a state policy that determines how solar energy users return energy to the grid. In net metering agreements, solar customers can send the excess energy generated by their system back to the grid and offset their electricity costs.
As noted in the letter, following Newsom’s recent executive order, California has set a goal of protecting 30% of the state’s land and water by 2030.
“A key part of this effort is to ensure that the right mix of energy projects are taking place in the right locations, including maintaining a robust and equitable rooftop solar market,” the letter said. “The less rooftop solar being built in California means even more land will be needed to produce utility-scale renewable energy, so a robust rooftop solar market is critical to achieving our goals.” for clean energy and land and biodiversity conservation.”
A recent Environment California study found that building 28.5 GW of rooftop solar, rather than utility-scale solar, would allow California to conserve existing land use on more than 148,000 acres of land, an area about half the size of Los Angeles.
“Clean energy projects require more land, but it is critical for the state to ensure a robust rooftop solar market to avoid destroying key habitats with unnecessary amounts of utility-scale renewable energy,” says Pamela Flick, California program director at Defenders of Wildlife. “We urge Governor Newsom and the CPUC to preserve the California roofing market as an important part of our state’s efforts to protect biodiversity and promote smart climate solutions.”
The letter points to rooftop solar projects as a way to avoid environmental disturbance, faster installation than large-scale solar projects, and the value of individual cost savings to customers.
“The California desert is part of the largest wild landscape in the lower 48. Its unparalleled ecological wealth is threatened by climate change, but is also endangered by our response to climate change,” said Chris Clarke, associate director of the California Desert Program with the National Park Conservation Association. “More than 400 square kilometers of roof in California is suitable for generating solar energy. That’s an area the size of Los Angeles that could be developed for solar with almost no environmental impact, but huge benefits for California families. It’s also over 400 square miles of desert that doesn’t need to be bulldozed for solar power. We urge Governor Newsom and the CPUC to protect California’s climate and the interests of his families, rather than support the utilities’ outdated business plans.”
The letter from conservation groups also notes how rooftop solar is reducing the need for grid investments, such as new transmission lines.
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