New Poll Shows Utility Efforts to Roll Back Net Metering Are Very Unpopular with California Voters

Voters support net metering and want to encourage more rooftop solar power in California; oppose utility efforts to roll back net metering policy

March 16, 2021 6:58 PM EDT

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SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A new poll released today by the California Solar and Storage Association and the Solar Rights Alliance shows utility company efforts to roll back net metering are highly unpopular among California voters. Instead, the poll showed strong support for net metering across parties, and a bipartisan desire for California leaders to do more to encourage the growth of rooftop solar power.

Voters want California to expand and encourage rooftop solar, not allow utilities to undermine consumer choice.

The poll was conducted as the California Public Utilities Commission prepares to reconsider the credit rooftop solar consumers receive for the excess energy they produce, among other changes. Net metering helps make solar more affordable for consumers and is a reason why 50 percent of the rooftop solar market is currently in working class and middle class neighborhoods. 

A super-majority of 80 percent of voters across parties support net metering when provided a neutral statement on the program. 71 percent of voters want to see California do more to encourage and expand rooftop solar across the state, and another 14 percent want the state to at least maintain its current commitment.

"California is a solar state thanks to overwhelming support from voters," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director, CALSSA. "Voters want California to actively expand and encourage rooftop solar, not allow utilities to undermine consumer choice."

Not surprisingly, 64 percent of voters oppose utility proposals to reduce the credit that people who have rooftop solar receive from their local utility for any extra electricity that their rooftop solar generates and feeds back to the grid, with just 25 percent supporting the effort.

Voters are not buying an ongoing campaign by utility special interests to blame solar users for energy rate hikes. That reason is supported by just 13 percent of voters and the lowest of all options provided including the costs of building new electric transmission lines (21 percent), grid maintenance (25 percent), managing wildfire danger (38 percent), and utility companies seeking to maintain or boost their profits (56 percent).

"Half of California's rooftop solar is found in working and middle-class neighborhoods," said Dave Rosenfeld, Executive Director, Solar Rights Alliance. "Net metering is helping bring costs down and making it possible for more families to access the savings, resilience and other benefits of solar power while also moving California closer to our clean energy goals. Voters of all backgrounds want to continue that progress. They know the utilities do not have their best interests in mind."

When provided the perspectives of rooftop solar advocates and utility interests, nearly three in four voters sided with solar:

72 percent agree that:

Half of California's rooftop solar is found in working and middle-class neighborhoods. Net metering has brought costs down and is essential to make it possible for more people to get solar power. We can't go back to a time when only the rich could afford it.

27 percent agree that:

The current credits for net metering give a massive subsidy to wealthy homeowners who can afford to install huge, pricey solar power systems. But it's working and middle-class Californians who foot the bill in the form of higher energy costs.

The poll was conducted by Benenson Strategy Group and included 811 interviews with likely 2022 voters in California from February 22 26, 2021. Interviews were conducted using SMS text to web services, on landline phones, and from online web panels. The sample was weighted to ensure it was proportionally representative of registered voters in the district. The margin of error is ±3.46% at the 95% confidence level and is higher among subgroups and questions that were split or not asked of all.

A summary memo of the poll is available here.

The California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA) has advanced the common interest of the solar and storage industry for over 40 years, making California the most robust market in the U.S. The association is the state's largest clean energy business group with over 600 member companies, primarily small businesses based in communities throughout the state, representing an array of businesses that manufacture, design, install, finance and provide other resources to the growing local solar and storage market in California. Learn more at

Solar Rights Alliance is the nonprofit association of California solar users. We believe everyone has the right to make energy from the sun without unreasonable interference by the utilities. We keep track of what politicians, regulators and utilities are up to, and alert the public when there is a threat to rooftop solar, or an opportunity to help more Californians access rooftop solar. Learn more at

Benenson Strategy Group (BSG) is a premier consulting and strategic research firm that advises political leaders, global corporations and institutions in the most dynamic, competitive scenarios. We use innovative techniques that probe deeply on core beliefs, attitudes, and emotions and provide actionable recommendations for our clients to deliver a message that breaks through the clutter and reaches its intended audience. For more information, please visit

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SOURCE California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA); Solar Rights Alliance

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