A self-described grassroots coalition of 347 organizations on Sept. 3 sent an open letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commission, asking that the state focus on keeping solar energy affordable. Net-energy metering changes are being considered; however, the group states that solar is popular and working well throughout the state precisely because net metering "is putting the benefits of rooftop solar in the hands of more people by making it more affordable." Save California Solar, which is an offshoot of the Solar Rights Alliance, claims that utility company proposals to change net metering would not only reduce the amount of credit that those with rooftop solar would receive each month, but would also add a $65 to $90 monthly "solar penalty fee" to their energy bills. The group also contends California ratepayers would pay an additional $295 a year if the utilities' proposals are adopted.
Southern California Edison paid a $350,000 fine for inaccurately reporting its storage and usage of sulfur hexafluoride, a potent greenhouse gas used as an insulator and circuit breaker in electrical switchgear equipment. The California Air Resources Board in an Aug. 27 news release said it reached a settlement with SCE and imposed the penalties. Sulfur hexafluoride, or SF6, has the potential to warm the atmosphere about 23,000 times more than carbon dioxide, CARB said in the release, adding that SF6 can linger in the atmosphere for more than 3,000 years. Utility spokesperson Ben Gallagher in a phone call said SCE regrets the reporting errors and appreciates CARB's cooperation on the issue to ensure compliance in meeting the state's air quality goals. "It is important to note that our [SF6] emissions were lower—not higher—than what we reported, and all emissions were within proper limits," he said.