A new statewide poll of California registered voters’ opinions of rooftop solar power and related policies shows that 90% of Californians favor rooftop solar power as a way to generate electricity, and 88% feel that more should be done to encourage rooftop solar power. The vast majority of voters polled (80%) disapprove of utility proposals to reduce compensation to customers who install their own rooftop solar power systems through a program called net energy metering, and 83% believe utility companies have no business trying to eliminate the competition from rooftop solar panel owners. The poll was conducted as the California Public Utilities Commission deliberates whether to continue the state’s successful net energy metering policy.
“Solar power is the most popular energy resource in California, highly favored for its ability to give consumers choice and control over how to power our homes, schools, and businesses,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA), which co-commissioned the poll along with Brightline Defense. “The public is strongly opposed to utilities interfering with consumer access to solar by attacking net metering. They think the state should do more to encourage rooftop solar, not make it more expensive.”
The poll also showed strong numbers of Californians, 82%, see rooftop solar as an important way to reduce the threat of climate change, and 74% see it as a way to reduce the need to build more polluting power plants typically located in disadvantaged communities.
“It makes no sense for California to build dirty power plants when we can generate our electricity directly from the sun,” said Eddie Ahn, executive director of Brightline Defense, co-commissioner of the poll. “Californians want the state to do more to make solar accessible to more people, particularly with our communities most in need of clean renewable energy.”
Highlights from the poll:
- Rooftop solar power received high marks (90%), compared with wind (88%), natural gas (71%), geothermal (65%), nuclear (46%) and coal (31%).
- 8 in 10 Californians disapprove of utility efforts to reduce compensation for surplus electricity generated by rooftop solar panels by more than 50%.
- Californians overwhelmingly (92%) believe consumers should have a choice to install rooftop solar panels, as opposed to relying solely on their utility company.
- Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Californians believe utilities should not be allowed to interfere with the transition to renewable energy just to save their own profits.
- 7 in 10 Californians believe increasing rooftop solar helps reduce air pollution in poorer neighborhoods where heavy polluting power plants are usually built.
The poll involved 1,000 respondents and had a 3.1% factor of error. Respondents reflected the diversity found throughout California in terms of geography, income, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and political outlook.
Net energy metering is a program that compensates solar consumers for any excess electricity they export to the grid. The program has helped fuel the explosive growth of solar across the state.