SMA goes to the Capitol for Solar Worker Day with CALSEIA

This post was originally published in 2015. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

SMA at CALSEIA Solay Lobby Day

SMA joined forces with more than 200 other solar workers for CALSEIA and The Alliance for Solar Choice’s third-annual Solar Worker Day at the California State Capitol. Dressed in bright yellow shirts to show the size of our collective voice, solar workers from across the state met with legislators from each district to educate members of the economic and environmental values of rooftop solar.

Every day in 2014, the solar industry created 20 new jobs, 50 percent more than the oil and gas pipeline construction industry plus the crude oil and natural gas industries combined. California has become the welcome home to a third of all solar-related jobs in the United States.

Threats to rooftop solar’s success
SMA at Solar Worker Day 2015

Team 1, with SMA representation, getting words of advice and policy updates from Sunrun’s Director of Public Policy, Walker Wright.

Despite reaching the Million Solar Roofs initiative ahead of schedule, rooftop solar in California is facing a triple-threat of bad policy set to derail these successes.

Much has been said about the looming expiration of the federal Investment Tax Credit and the need for an extension, but stalling progress and the failure of an extender bill in the Senate this month has raised the emphasis groups like these are putting on state-wide legislators to pressure their federal colleagues to act on this important policy that levels the playing field for solar compared to the massive subsidies given to fossil fuel power industries.

As rooftop solar approaches one million installations in California, proposed changes to the state’s net energy metering (NEM) policy have industry professionals justifiably worried. Current NEM policy is only in place until the state’s largest investor-owned utilities reach a five percent net metering cap. Altering the current NEM policy could drastically change the rooftop solar payback period for customers and further reduce homeowner incentive.

Solar Worker Day with Sen. McGuire

Solar workers from group 1, too large for Senator Mike McGuire’s office, discuss SB350 concerns.

Other issues on the horizon

Solar advocates spent ample energy discussing their dissatisfactions with SB 350, a landmark bill requiring the state to produce at least 50 percent of its electrical needs by renewable sources. Complaints between legislators and solar advocates were wide-ranging and stemmed mostly from what SB 350 failed to include, notably leaving rooftop solar outside of the state’s renewable portfolio standards and not taking a firm stance on the future of NEM policy given the call for increased renewable energy.

Legislators from both parties aired concerns over fairness in numerous aspects of the bill, but understood the rooftop solar industry’s concerns and were open to taking such feedback into consideration upon the bill’s next reading.

One collective voice
SMA Solar Sprinter with SolarCity trucks

The SMA Solar Sprinter joined the chorus of solar advocates with Solar City’s fleet outside the State Capitol.

Companies of all sizes joined together for a great day of solar education and promotion amongst California’s statewide leaders. As an industry, we cannot let our voices be drowned out by those who don’t see the true value solar brings through clean energy, quality jobs and building a better tomorrow.

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