The Sierra Club today announced the launch of an online advertising campaign designed to extoll the benefits of rooftop solar in California–and to counter negative campaigns against the energy source foisted by Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas and Electric. But Matt, you may be saying, don't those same utility companies partly rely on solar power? Indeed.
The My Generation Campaign features a series of ads to highlight “record solar job growth” in California, according to a Sierra Club statement. Included are images of solar system installers and families who have bought in (and received handsome rebates). These ads are intended to run through the end of the summer on news sites, social media sites and “key influential political blogs,” the nonprofit environmental organization vows.
“Every Californian family that installs solar panels on their roof is creating jobs for their community,” says Allen Hernandez, Inland Empire community organizer for the My Generation Campaign, in the statement. “Community by community, neighbor by neighbor, Californians are going solar and are making our state's economy stronger.”
But the same release points out that California's most powerful utilities have taken aim at expansion of rooftop solar in the Golden State because “it threatens the expansion of their monopoly business model.”
This is a reference to “net metering,” which requires electric companies to offset monthly bills sent to ratepayers who generate solar energy in dollars for the sun power. During this time of year, this can mean electric bills offset to the point of zero for some fortunate users.
“New electric rate proposals by Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric submitted to the Public Utilities Commission would add new permanent fees to customer bills that could obstruct the expanding clean energy job market,” reads the Sierra Club statement. “The new fees would cut deeply into the affordability of rooftop solar for middle class families.”
“It is not fair that people have to pay more for their electricity bills when they could save money with solar energy,” says Olga Moedano, a South Gate resident and My Generation volunteer, in the release. “Not only that, but big electric utilities are putting jobs and solar investment at risk in our neighborhoods. Californians in communities like mine suffer from high unemployment rates and the worst air pollution that results from the use of dirty energy sources.”
Indeed, the Sierra Club accuses the energy giants of propping up so-called “dirty” energy sources through tactics like these that make clean sources less desirable to potential solar installers. The environmental advocates also bring class warfare into the scrum by pointing to a PUC report last year that showed two-thirds of solar installations in 2011 were in middle or low income zip codes.
Examples of My Generation visual and video ads are on the next page …