It’s time for California to go big on solar power

More of us are going solar, meeting our energy needs in a way that’s clean, local and independent. Consider:

  • Solar power has tripled in the U.S. in the last two years, with another American family or business going solar every four minutes.
  • That’s in part because the price of solar has dropped more than 50 percent since 2011.
  • The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said that “solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything...It could double every  two years.”

Who's attacking solar?

Unfortunately, solar power’s rapid growth has alarmed some dirty energy companies. They keep putting up new roadblocks to solar -- so they can keep solar generating less than 3% of our power, even if it means more pollution and more global warming.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Charles and David Koch, owners of the oil conglomerate Koch Industries, and their allies have spent heavily to impose new taxes on homeowners who go solar – in effect, penalizing those who reduce their pollution and their carbon footprint.
  • The Edison Electric Institute, which represents electric utility companies, has teamed up with the American Legislative Exchange Council to dismantle state pro-solar laws in Kansas, North Carolina and Washington State, amid others.
  • Oklahoma, Arizona and Ohio already have moved to scale back their solar programs.

Keep the solar surge going strong

Solar power might disrupt the business plans of dirty energy companies, but it makes a ton of sense for America.

That’s why people from all walks of life are getting behind solar, from environmentalists to Tea Party activists, from solar entrepreneurs to Barry Goldwater, Jr., son of the former Republican nominee for president.

Our challenge is to not only fend off the attacks being led by the dirty energy lobby, but to keep the surge in solar power going strong.

How do we do it?

Our research shows the cities and states with the most solar power aren’t necessarily the ones with the most sunshine; they also include states with smart pro-solar policies. For example:

  • Arizona, Hawaii and California made the list of the top 10 states for solar in our 2014 report. But so did Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado and Delaware, all thanks to smart policies.
  • The top 10 solar states, with only 26% of the nation’s population, were responsible for 87% of the nation’s solar power.
  • Our report found all or nearly all of the states shared a set of smart policies in common, from strong clean energy standards to policies that let solar homeowners sell their extra power back to the utilities.

30 percent solar by 2030

We need more and better pro-solar policies, not fewer. That’s why we’re urging Gov. Jerry Brown to make commitments that will help put California on the road to 100% clean energy, with 30 percent solar by 2030. 

Achieving this state goal would help move our country closer to the national goal of getting 10 percent solar by 2030. This would produce immediate and long-lasting benefits for our environment, including removing 280 million metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere by 2030—the equivalent of taking 59 million cars off the road.

Let's go big on solar

We think a combination of professional research and advocacy with community action can help California go big on solar. Why? Our national federation has done it before.

Environment California spearheaded the campaign for that state’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative. In Massachusetts, we helped convince the state to set a goal of enough solar to power 50,000 homes – and then persuaded the state to raise the goal when it hit the original milestone ahead of schedule. We’ve also won pro-solar policies in Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Arizona, New Jersey and North Carolina.            

But we have a long way to go to reach solar power’s true potential.

It’s time to go big on solar. If we take the right steps today, we can harness more power from the sun so we can finally leave dirty energy behind. The sky really is the limit.

Issue updates

News Release | Environment California Research & Policy Center

Target making inroads on solar power, but Environment California “expects more”

Target has pledged to put solar panels on a quarter of its stores, but the company could cut pollution dramatically and even save its customers money by putting panels on all of its nearly 2,000 rooftops in North America, advocacy group Environment California said today.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment California Research & Policy Center

California Ranks 1st in Solar Jobs

The Solar Foundation released its 2015 solar jobs census today, showing 208,859 Americans now work in the solar energy sector, including 75,598 people in California.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment California Research & Policy Center

California Public Utilities Commission Expands Solar Net Metering

“Today will shine bright in California history, bringing cleaner air, more local jobs and a more secure energy future for all Californians,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate for Environment California Research & Policy Center. “We applaud the CPUC for listening to the outpouring of support from Californians all over the state to protect net metering and uphold Governor Brown's vision for climate and clean power leadership.”

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment California

Santa delivers critical solar and wind energy victories in time for Christmas

With just days to go before 2015 ends, Congress and Governor Brown have taken concrete steps to ensure that California continues to lead the country on solar power.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment California Research & Policy Center

Report: Wind Now Supplies Enough Energy for More than 1 Million California Homes

Wind power has grown exponentially in California over the last dozen years, and now supplies enough energy to power 1,188,483 homes, a new report from Environment California Research & Policy Center said today. Last year alone, wind turbines in California averted over 9 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution, the equivalent to removing more than 1.9 million cars from the road.

> Keep Reading

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