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Utility Customers Outraged Over Possible Fee To Cope With Revenue Loss From Popular Solar Panels

SANTA MONICA ( — Some Southern California residents are outraged by a state bill that would allow three utility companies to charge customers up to $10 a month to cope with the loss of revenue due to the popularity of solar panels.

The fixed fee would hit customers of Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric—whether they've installed solar panels or not.

Protestors like Aura Vasquez of the Sierra Club took their opposing message to the SoCal Edison headquarters in Rosemead.

Vasquez said the fee, which could be up to $120 a year, doesn't make sense for the environment or for peoples' pocketbooks.

"It flattens the way we pay our bills; whether you use a little electricity or a lot of electricity, it will be the same," she said.

The protest comes on the heels of consumer groups releasing a video called "Edison Hates Solar Rooftops," and Edison responding with a cease-and-desist letter.

Edison told KCAL9 they are proud of their renewable energy record and the charge is necessary as more people install solar panels, which use the grid's infrastructure.

"All this would do is reallocate some of what's currently being charged on a cents per kilowatt-hour basis to a fixed charge," said SCE's Mark Nelson.

Scott Freeman went for solar at his business, but thinks a fee for non-solar homes isn't fair.

"The $10 fee is going to be for everybody, so whether or not you have it or not, it's not going to make a difference," he said.

Mark Smith, the CEO of Solar Forward, installs solar panels in the greater L.A.-area.

"I don't think it's gonna have a huge effect initially, but I think it's going to raise awareness. I think they're shooting themselves in the foot. I think people are going to become more aware of what their alternatives are," he said.

The bill still has to make it out of the state Legislature.

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