California is sure living up to its “Golden State” nickname this month. It’s not news to anybody that we’re in the midst of a historic heat-wave – and while it can make for some interesting road trips it has mainly been a major problem for people struck with blackouts resulting from our current grid’s inability to meet the increased demands. Given scientists’ predictions on rising average temperatures in the years to come (making heat waves like this the new normal), one wonders how this grid will actually stand up in this much hotter future.

The bright spot, so to speak, is that the grid is increasingly being helped by the growing number of rooftop solar systems producing additional energy. In fact Two-thirds of California home solar installations now occur in low and median income neighborhoods, according to a July 2012 California Solar Initiative report issued by the California Public Utilities Commission.  So why wouldn’t we deploy rooftop systems more widely? Wouldn’t it be in our best interest to have a closer and more reliable energy source?  

As it turns out, Latinos in California agree. In a recent poll commissioned by the William C. Velazquez Institute (WCVI) and supported by Californians Against Utilities Stopping Solar Energy (CAUSE), Latinos overwhelmingly prefer solar (to the tune of 89% of all polled) when given an option of energy sources. Antonio Gonzalez, a long time social justice champion and the Executive Director at WCVI, explains:  

“It is clear from the survey results that Latinos are making choices about their preferences of energy sources and those choices are clearly Green and rooted in not only public health concerns but excitement about the job potential that rooftop solar growth provides”

 Even more interesting is that 80% of those polled said expanding rooftop energy should be a legislative priority and 70% support California’s net energy metering law (NEM) that allows owners of rooftop solar panels to receive fair credit for the excess energy they generate.  What’s more,90% said they would re-elect a legislator who supported cleaner air standards and almost two thirds would vote out legislators they perceived to being too accommodating to large utility companies. With Latinos poised to become the majority of residents in California in a matter of months, I hope our legislators finally take heed and start supporting net metering and rooftop solar in a more proactive way.