The utilities are the masterminds behind the smear campaign against rooftop solar

For those who are curious, the three investor-owned utilities – PG&E, SoCal Edison and SDG&E – are behind the pressure and misinformation campaign to kill rooftop solar.

The utilities’ campaign against rooftop solar is being waged by a nice-sounding front group called “Affordable Clean Energy for All”. They have a slick website called Fix the Cost Shift. They claim to be a coalition of many organizations working together to address the so-called “cost shift”, which falsely claims that rooftop solar causes utility bills to rise for those without solar.

Let’s pull back the curtain:

  1. Affordable Clean Energy for All was created by PG&E, SDG&E and SoCal Edison. How do we know? Because the law requires them to disclose it. Which they did in this memo to the Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
  2. Most of the organizations in their “coalition” take money from the utilities. Public records show that the utilities gave $1.67 million to the organizations in their “coalition” in 2020 alone.

We’ve written extensively about the origins and deceptive math behind the “cost shift” claim, but it bears repeating:

  1. The “cost shift” was invented by utility industry strategists in 2016, shortly after their last and failed attempt to kill net energy metering at the CPUC. This leaked memo outlines their plan to smear rooftop solar and promote large-scale renewable energy. (the cost shift discussion begins on p. 22).
  2. From 2017 to the present, the utility industry gave $30 million in donations to California political candidates, while also showering the nonprofit organizations noted above with additional millions.
  3. The utilities then created deceptive accounting methods to “prove” their claims about rooftop solar.
  4. The utilities’ investment began paying off when the CPUC hired utility-friendly consultants to “independently” verify the utilities’ cost shift claims. These consultants – E3 and the Energy Institute at UC Berkeley – take money from the utilities, presenting a major conflict of interest that the CPUC has brushed off. More about how the CPUC was captured by the utilities.

The bottom line – the utilities are the mastermind behind the campaign to kill rooftop solar, spending tens of millions of dollars to bend the halls of our government to their will.

Fortunately, a real grassroots coalition of 150,000 members of the public; over 600 nonprofits, cities and school districts; and over 60,000 rooftop solar workers and businesses have prevented the utilities from winning…so far. Please keep it up by making your voice heard. See the Campaign Toolkit for the latest ways you can take action.

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