News and analysis about renewable energy in California.

SoCal Edison Not Laughing at Rooftop Solar Satire Video

A screenshot from the Save Rooftop Solar video satirizing SCE | Photo: Save Rooftop Solar

A satirical video intended to poke fun at alleged utility obstruction of rooftop solar in California has attracted the ire of Southern California Edison (SCE), which has sent a letter demanding the creators take the video off the Internet.

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The groups Presente.org, the Sierra Club's My Generation Campaign, and the Other 98% released the satirical video last week on their joint website Save Rooftop Solar in an attempt to call attention to what they call a campaign by California's investor-owned utilities to court Latino legislators in the state to restrict rooftop solar.

The groups' press blitz during the release stated that the video focused on SCE as a "proxy" for all of California's investor-owned utilities, but apparently SCE is feeling singled out. On August 16 the utility sent a "cease and desist" letter to Presente.org, demanding the groups responsible remove the video from its website and from YouTube.

In the letter, SCE's attorney Janet Combs spells out the utility's objection to the satire:

Specifically, the video, entitled Edison Hates Rooftop Solar, misrepresents itself as an Edison video and claims that Edison wants to "keep solar panels" off customers' roofs through a "business plan" to "force" customers to buy "dirty energy" from "dirty power plants" that "poison poor communities." The video claims that Edison is "spending big on Latino politicians" to make installing solar panels on customers' roofs more expensive and discourage customers from installing solar panels.

Of course, due to the provisions of Internet Law concerning the Streisand Effect, ReWire is obligated to embed that video for you here again. Listen, we don't make the rules.

Combs' letter threatened further legal action if the groups fail to respond within 14 days. And respond they have. "Southern California Edison's threats against us are a joke," said Arturo Carmona, Executive Director of Presente.org, in a press release. "Instead of trying to divert the public's attention by threatening to take legal action against our video parody, Edison and other utilities need to tell the public why they've spent nearly $900,000 lobbying Latino legislators." Carmona added that the legal threat has inspired his group to try to get the satire aired on television stations in the state's Latino districts.

"The use of corporate logos for satire is standard practice recognized by law. But Southern California Edison obviously doesn't care for the satirical message of this video," added John Sellers of The Other 98%. "They're mad as hell that we've exposed their lobby's calculated attempt to squelch the state's rooftop solar economy."

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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