Californian Solar And Storage Workers Gather At State Capitol

By Joseph Bebon, Solar Industry Magazine

Approximately 150 solar and energy storage workers from 80 businesses across the state converged on the California state capitol on Tuesday, Aug. 29, to meet with their legislative representatives and urge continued support of local solar and energy storage policies. Organized by the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA), the event was the 4th Annual Worker Day. The clean energy workers had a clear message: “Keep local solar and storage growing in California.”

“Our jobs require strong policies to ensure access to local solar and storage for all California consumers,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of CALSEIA. “Local solar and energy storage businesses bring many benefits to the state including jobs that can’t be outsourced and an affordable and reliable pathway to 100 percent clean energy.”

The workers came to the capitol to educate legislators about the different forms of local solar and energy storage technologies including solar photovoltaic systems, solar thermal systems, and grid-tied batteries that help keep the sun shining at night. CALSEIA also honored California Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, with the 2017 Legislator of the Year Award for her work to promote local solar and storage.

Specific bills supported by the association included:

  • A.B.797 (Irwin) – to continue consumer incentives for solar thermal (hot water) systems that reduce natural gas use.
  • A.B.1414 (Friedman) – to extend and expand existing cap on permit fees for local solar systems.
  • S.B.700 (Wiener) – to create a multi-year consumer rebate program for energy storage. The bill stalled in July under opposition and will be taken back up in Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee again in 2018. CALSEIA notes an earlier backed bill, A.B.1030 (Ting), also faced opposition earlier in the year and was stopped by the same committee.

“I got up at 3:30 this morning to make sure my voice would be heard,” said Ricardo Armendarez, sales manager and system designer for AltSys Solar Inc., a Central Valley contractor based in Tulare, Calif. “I have come to believe running a business is only half of the work needed to create a successful industry. Engaging with our state legislators and making sure they understand the significance of their policy decisions is critical to the continued growth and maintenance of our businesses and the jobs we create.”

CALSEIA says the nearly 80 businesses that participated in the day’s event came from all over California from San Diego to Redding. These businesses and 150 workers are a diverse cross-section of the 100,000 jobs that solar and storage have created across California, according to the group.