Sierra Club launches state-wide “My Generation” campaign for local clean energy

03. May 2012 | By:  Sierra Club

Campaign calls on Governor to step up support for rooftop solar power, clean energy jobs.

The Sierra Club has launched a new state-wide clean energy campaign in California, called the My Generation campaign. From costly and unnecessary rate increase proposals for solar customers to fighting proposals to expand access to local clean energy, utility companies are preventing California from realizing its great potential for local clean energy development. The My Generation campaign will show the vast public demand for local clean energy, particularly rooftop solar power, and is calling for 30 percent of the state’s electricity needs to be met by local clean energy sources by 2020.

“Across our state, big utilities are denying California families the opportunity to save money, create local jobs, and reduce the enormous health problems that come from dirty fossil fuels,” said Evan Gillespie, My Generation Campaign Director. “Rooftop solar is better for our kids’ health, better for our wallets, and better for jobs. It’s time utilities got out of the way of local clean energy.”

Local clean energy refers to various forms of clean and renewable sources of power, such as rooftop solar, energy efficiency, combined heat and power, and energy storage programs. All of these offer immense benefits – such as energy savings and cash back – for homeowners and families. Additionally, local clean energy investment presents enormous jobs benefits over investments in fossil fuel based energy. According to a recent report by Next 10, employment and business opportunities  in clean energy infrastructure grew by 14% while the state’s overall job market shrunk by seven percent.

Communities across the state are already reaping the benefits of local clean energy. In Hemet, California, a homeowner was able to reduce her monthly energy bill from over $200 a month to just a dollar by installing rooftop solar. And in Oxnard, the local school district will save $36 million by moving its six schools onto local clean energy.

"Now more than ever, people in the Inland Empire and across California need jobs. Local clean energy policies that promote rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and more are bringing good paying jobs, economic investment, and progress to local communities," said Alex Avila, officer of 4e Institute, a major new youth focused organization emerging in San Bernardino. "As we prepare members of our community for a good career in these industries, it's crucial that our state leaders stand up to special interests would halt future progress."

The campaign launch comes at a time when the Public Utilities Commission is considering approval of a proposal that would boost renewable energy use by homeowners, schools, and businesses and lower energy costs for ratepayers. The state currently has limits to cap the amount of local renewable energy at five percent. Utilities’ stated calculation artificially lowers the total cap, putting further restrictions on the growth of local clean energy and the jobs, savings and other benefits associated with the expanded use of rooftop solar.

"Too many utilities are stuck in the past and fighting the inevitable growth of local clean energy in the economy rather than embracing it. The solar industry, with tens of thousands of jobs at stake in California, should get behind the My Generation campaign and demand that our public officials ensure Californians access to more affordable clean energy," said Danny Kennedy, President of Sungevity.

The campaign has released the “Clean Energy Bill of Rights,” which establishes the foundational principles for California’s local clean energy future, such as universal access to local clean energy, increased access for low income communities and communities of color, to the right to earn money from the sun that falls on your roof. As part of the state-wide effort to move California onto 30 percent local clean energy, “My Generation” is also urging California Governor Jerry Brown to stand with California families and schools by signing the “Clean Energy Bill of Rights” and creating a plan for a local clean energy future.

The full text of the Clean Energy Bill of Rights and more information on the campaign can be viewed at www.sierraclub.org/mygeneration