The newest Public Utilities Commission (PUC) plan is meant to support energy companies and consumers, but paying more money isn’t something that most residents will look forward to.
Released in December 2021, the PUC added a new charge of $8-per-kilowatt for solar panel users. The purpose of the fee is to address the price increase of electricity caused by solar owners who “do not pay their fair share of grid maintenance costs,” which can be an issue for other low-income customers in California, according to KPBS. From the perspective of utilities, solar owners are being compensated far too high compared to how much they provide back.
However, installation companies, environmental activists, and customers themselves are frustrated by the additional charge to a product that already can cost thousands to install but also is supporting clean and renewable energy. If this plan is implemented, Californians will be dealing with yet another incentive to avoid sustainable living. There is a chance that will cause people to stop buying solar panels, which will affect solar installation companies. At a Los Angeles rally, hundreds of installation workers protested to “Save solar,” predicting how this could affect their livelihood.
Unfortunately, it adds to the notion that living an eco-friendly life in California means paying extra. Low-income communities will be given another reason to avoid solar panels that are already considered a novelty. However, these panels are beneficial to the environment and we should aim to install more. A possible solution is giving a discount to low-income communities who don’t have the option to pay more for luxuries. If a tax is necessary, then starting it at a low price would be the best option so we don’t see any customers abandoning their solar panels in the future.