Los Angeles Business Journal

Rooftop Solar’s Sizzle Just Getting Started

By Theresa Martinez Monday, November 9, 2015

The Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce represents hundreds of Hispanic-owned businesses across Los Angeles. Our chamber focuses on helping businesses find procurement opportunities, network and have a voice in our community. As small-business owners, our chamber and its members seek out opportunities to cut costs, save money and have control over every item in our budgets.

Money saved allows us to reinvest and grow our business. It is not easy running a business in today’s economy, especially when faced with high energy costs. As a former small-business owner myself, I appreciate any opportunity I can get to cut costs and have more control over every item in my budget. 

This is why so many of our chamber’s members want to take advantage of rooftop solar. Rooftop solar provides the chance for small and medium-size businesses to generate their own power, save money on rates and promote clean energy in our local communities. It also provides a lower-cost energy alternative with predictable rates, instead of the price fluctuations we too often see in our community.   

Our chamber membership wants to be a part of any conversation to save money, but, more so, as Latinos, we need to be a part of the clean-energy conversation. For too long, our community has been left out of this conversation. Our families and businesses have suffered as a result of living and working in areas with higher rates of pollution in our air and water. This has created an added cost on our community.

Rooftop solar provides a cleaner alternative for our community, which can help our businesses save money and employ our community. 

Job creation

The industry has already created 54,000 jobs across the state and you can see the growth of solar in our businesses, homes, schools and churches. These are jobs that cannot be outsourced because they are local where installations occur. This has created opportunities for Latino workers, who represent one in five of the state’s solar workforce.

We can’t stop now. Rooftop solar is only just beginning to become accessible to small- and medium-size business owners. If we roll back net metering – which is the program that enables consumers to go solar – then we will be hindering thousands of small businesses from choosing to go solar.

Net energy metering is a program that fairly compensates solar consumers for any excess electricity they export to the grid. In California, net metering has supported more than $10 billion in private investment. Being on the cutting edge of the rooftop solar movement has only helped our state thrive and makes it a better place to do business. 

The California Public Utilities Commission is meeting to determine the future of rooftop solar in our state. It will be deciding whether we keep growing solar jobs and how accessible clean energy will be for our state’s small-business owners.

We hope the commission considers the potential rooftop solar has for saving small businesses money on our bills and preserves pro-consumer, pro-business policies like net metering.

Theresa Martinez is chief executive of the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce and is also founder of the National Latina Business Women Association.