Earlier this month, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed 400 parts per million (ppm), far exceeding what the scientific community deems permissible to minimize the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet’s climate.
The month of May brought good news too: we welcomed California's 150,000th rooftop solar installation. Demand-side management, including conservation, energy efficiency, and rooftop solar are increasingly cost-effective and accessible to Californians. Roughly two-thirds of all rooftop solar installations in 2011 were put in place in middle-income zip codes, and growing numbers of Californians from all walks of life are looking for ways to manage their energy use as a way to control costs and protect the environment.
Promoting individual participation and enabling customer choice is critical to reducing climate change emissions. When given the option, Californians vastly prefer clean energy to dirty and are pushing to go above and beyond the state’s current minimum clean energy mandates by installing rooftop solar, while slashing energy use inside their homes. The more that public policy can do to enable Californians take their energy use into their own hands, the faster we will eliminate fossil fuels.
One key tool for allowing greater participation in clean energy is utility rate design. The economic signals built into how an electric bill is calculated go a long way towards encouraging or dissuading millions of Californians from going solar or cutting their energy use.