CCEnergy – an Effective Voice for Solar Advocates

The democratic process goes well beyond casting a ballot. Once in office, officials need to hear the voice of people to guide their decisions. Since its inception, CCEnergy has been letting legislators and officials know the importance of people's energy rights.

Energy is politically charged in California, with giant utility and oil and gas companies competing in a complex legislative environment. More than 150 years of legislation supports large-scale, centralized electricity generation. To level the playing field and bring clean, renewable, distributed generation to communities, CCEnergy participates in the political process as a necessary part of our sustainable business plan.

CCEnergy is actively involved in seeking sensible renewable energy policies that benefit all segments of the market. Unfortunately, like so many other issues in California, energy policymaking is fraught with pressure from special interests seeking to gain as much control as possible of the state's energy market to maximize profit, frequently to the detriment of renewable energy industry's long-term health and certainly not always in the best interests of California energy consumers.

Solar homes bill fraught with problems avoided

CCEnergy joined with others in the solar community -- both industry members and consumers -- to support comprehensive solar legislation, after working hard to get amendments added to a bill that would have mandated solar energy for a certain percentage of new homes built in California. While seemingly a great idea at face value, CCEnergy identified many critical oversights that would have exhausted existing renewable rebate funding and killed the solar retrofit market. After the first version of this approach was killed in committee, several other better-thought-out solar bills were crafted and introduced into the legislative process.

Departing load tax on solar averted

CCEnergy lead a successful lobbying effort to prevent the California Public Utilities Commission from approving a tax on customers who produce electricity from solar systems. Pacific Gas & Electric and other large, investor-owned utilities in the state wanted to impose new utility charges, also known as a "departing load taxes" or "exit fees," based on the amount of solar power each customer produced. These fees, ranging from 2 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour, would have increased the cost of using solar energy by as much as 40 percent, dramatically slowing the growth of solar energy in California.

Net metering protected and extended

Getting credit for the power you produce is a right -- today and indefinitely. Net metering allows utility consumers to be credited for electricity they produce and feed back into the grid. This is important for the economic viability of grid connected solar. Changes introduced by utility companies in the past have threatened to gut the intent of net metering law by requiring the installation of more costly metering equipment and reducing the per kWh credit. However, due to lobbying by CCEnergy members and allies, we are assured that net metering is a right for solar in California.

Funding for the CEC rebate program restored

Before the CSI program went into effect in 2006, all rebates were administered by the California Energy Commission (CEC). During the summer 2002 legislative session, the bill enabling the CEC to continue funding this program was delayed and then killed. CCEnergy was at the forefront of advocating this program to be funded. Fortunately, language to fund the program was inserted into a second bill, SB1038, as part of a last-minute deal and the bill passed on the final day of the session. Without this legislation, rebate funds would have been exhausted quickly, ending one of the most critical and most successful consumer incentive to date for purchasing solar energy.

Solar Tax Credit saved from suspension

CCEnergy’s legislative advocacy goes all the way back to 2001, when legislation was passed to provide a tax credit for California residents who purchase and install solar energy. In 2002, Governor Grey Davis proposed a two-year suspension of the program.

CCEnergy's website became the de-facto site for accurate, up-to-the minute information for countries as far afield as Germany and for celebrities as renowned as Robert Redford and Bonnie Raitt. CCEnergy stayed in constant contact with major players, strategizing and mobilizing for carefully timed and orchestrated email, mail, and fax campaigns to key decision makers. Members of CCEnergy and the public contributed to these campaigns by sending letters and emails to key representatives.

Through the efforts of CCEnergy, its members, and a mobilized ad hoc solar community at large, the Legislature passed several bills in 2002 with the language needed to sustain California's solar energy movement. In each case the bills directly affected the bottom-line economics of solar for energy consumers.

What you can do to help

  • Join CCEnergy’s Email List then take the time to call, email, write, or fax your representatives when you receive CCEnergy's "Solar Action Alert" emails on specific issues.

  • Join CCEnergy. Become a member of our co-op to gain a voice and influence the future of renewable energy in California and nationwide. The simple act of purchasing a solar energy system is a powerful way to express support for clean, renewable energy. Being a member of an organization that champions this cause is a second way. CCEnergy is unique in that it offers both.

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