CREDIT: AP Photo/Reed Saxon
While the federal government is mired in the latest shutdown crisis, California continues to cement itself as a national leader in clean energy. Over the weekend, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the pioneering S.B. 43 into law. The measure creates an innovative program that allows customers of any of the state’s three largest utilities to purchase up to 100 percent clean energy for their home or business.
While rooftop solar is booming in California, at least 75 percent of households were previously unable to participate because: they are renters and don’t own their roofs, they do not have strong enough credit ratings to finance the installation, or their roof is too small or doesn’t receive enough sunlight.
Thanks to S.B. 43, they can now purchase clean power from small to medium-sized solar and other renewables projects and then receive a credit on their utility bill for the clean energy produced, according to Vote Solar.
Lois Welk, state representative and the bill’s author, has been working for three years to advance the measure. “Finally, the 75 percent of Californians currently unable to utilize solar power or other renewable energy, all the renters in California, all the businesses who lease, all those living in apartments and condos, everyone with low income or poor credit scores, will now be able to do so,” she said upon passage.
Noting that low-income communities of color are “impacted first and worst from climate change,” Strela Cervas with the California Environmental Justice Alliance applauded the measure. “SB 43 will not only help California meet its renewable energy goals, it will bring much-needed clean energy into areas of the state that need it most,” she said.
As Vote Solar explains, the benefits of the program are numerous: It requires no state subsidies, has no cost to non-participating ratepayers, and is set up to deliver cost savings to participants over time as electric rates rise and solar costs drop. In addition, it is projected to create 6,000+ new jobs in the state and over $2.2 billion in economic activity in the next few years.