September 9, 2021
For California homeowners who can afford it, making the switch to solar energy can be a smart investment. Over time, it can result in major cost savings, and switching to sustainable energy is critical in helping California meet its environmental goals.
AARP supports California’s efforts to move towards renewable energy, with a top priority of ensuring this transition benefits older adults and their families. AARP has a longstanding track record of advocating for equitable, affordable, and reliable utility service for older adults, and we have spent decades fighting for fair utility rates in states across the nation. In California in 2018, AARP played a pivotal role in preventing utility companies from receiving an unjustified bailout from the state legislature. In other years, we have also fought for more stringent service outage protections for vulnerable customers in the wake of worsening wildfires. And, later this month, we are launching a campaign to “Fight the Rate Hike” against PG&E’s proposed 18% rate increase on its six million customers—the largest rate increase in the country.
From this vantage point, we are closely monitoring a case before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which is examining whether a program for home solar customers — known as Net Energy Metering (NEM)—should continue or be scaled back. This program was originally designed to offset the often high cost of installing solar equipment, and it has helped many California homeowners transition to solar energy. However, some low- and fixed-income consumer advocates are concerned that the program results in higher electricity service rates being charged to non-solar customers. This is because electric utilities are currently allowed by the state to collect a set amount of revenue for providing service, regardless of which customers they require to pay for it. In other words, utilities are charging non-solar customers higher rates to recoup the reduced revenue from customers that joined the NEM program. Clearly, this is not a satisfactory solution.
The CPUC has the legal authority and responsibility to determine the best solutions to hold utilities accountable, to require utilities to be transparent, and to ensure that all customers—including our 3.3 million members, ages 50 and over, in California— are treated equitably on their bills. All residential ratepayers deserve fair rates and service affordability, and AARP will continue to fiercely advocate for these principles as our state transitions to a cleaner energy future. Learn more about how you can participate and have your voice heard by visiting the CPUC’s website at https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/industries-and-topics/electrical-energy/demand-side-management/net-energy-metering.
A Message to Our California Members, from Nancy McPherson, AARP State Director
September 9, 2021