Solar Shares III Explainer

Tell SMUD: Don’t block our new neighbors from choosing solar.

To the SMUD Board of Directors:

Please scrap your current SolarShares plan and hold public hearings on the path forward.

SolarShares will:

* Prevent solar from being installed on new homes.

* Make it harder for owners of new homes to add solar and storage for 20 years.

* Deny residents of new homes the chance to save hundreds of dollars on their energy bills each year.

SMUD did not seek broad community input while designing SolarShares. This is one reason why there is such widespread opposition to your current plan. Please live up to the spirit of a community utility and listen to the community on this issue.

Background: The state wants solar on new homes. That’s good.​

Starting this year, the state requires newly built homes to have solar on them and encourage the addition of a battery as well. Putting solar on homes during construction lowers the upfront cost of solar and saves residents money on their energy bill over the long run. With a battery, homeowners can keep the power on during blackouts. It makes sense to build solar into new construction as a standard feature, like insulation.

SMUD wants to keep solar off new homes. That’s nuts.​

But now SMUD is trying to cut a deal that would keep solar off newly built homes for twenty years. Here is a rundown of SMUD’s proposal:

  • SMUD would make a deal with home builders to prevent solar panels and battery storage from being installed in new homes.
  • For twenty years, it would be almost impossible for owners of these new homes to install solar panels and battery storage on their own. These homeowners could not use battery storage to keep their lights on during a power outage.
  • The utility will supply these homes with energy from solar farms, with a paltry annual credit of about $40 per year – a fraction of the bill savings from true solar.
What makes SMUD’s actions even more baffling is that they’re discouraging rooftop solar even as they refuse to close down their five fossil fuel power plants. This is the opposite approach places like Oakland are taking, in which they are replacing the energy from polluting local power plants by increasing the amount of homes with rooftop solar and battery storage.
More reading:

The community is pushing back. SMUD isn't listening.

State energy officials have already sent SMUD back to the drawing board three times, in part because hundreds of community members,  organizations and media outlets spoke out against SMUD’s proposal. 

But SMUD keeps proposing the same flawed plan. It is time for SMUD to acknowledge their proposal is flawed, scrap it and start over. 

More reading:

Los Angeles Times: California, don’t back down from your own rules requiring solar panels on new homes

SMUD’s proposal (pdf download)

Solar Rights Alliance’s formal letter of opposition to the CEC

In-depth analysis of SMUD’s proposal by the solar industry (pdf download)

Take action! Tell SMUD to stop blocking our new neighbors from choosing solar.

Contact Mireille Benajji at mireille@solarrights [dot] org to learn more. Thank you for getting involved!