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Why clean energy advocates are divided over California’s plan to slash solar incentives

  • Jan 8, 2022
The Verge

Solar panels are installed on the roofs of zero energy model homes, as seen on Thurs. May 17, 2018 in Clovis, Ca. | Photo By Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images California could soon end the perks it has been giving to residents with rooftop solar on their homes, even as it pl...

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 8, 2022

"That has solar industry folks freaking out. 'People are almost in tears, you know, like grown men that built their whole life around their business and their company,' says Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar & Storage Association. Her group is one out of about 600 organizations that have put together a coalition to stop the CPUC’s proposal."

It breaks my heart, that people who have made a business out of selling technology proven useless for fighting climate change might not find it lucrative any more.

Long overdue.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 13, 2022

"Today, utilities are charging more for electricity across the board to pay for net metering. That’s because the rates that early solar adopters earned from selling energy back to the grid are up to six times higher than its actual value, according to the CPUC and environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). They estimate that the actual value to the grid is about 5 cents per kW. But someone with a home solar system might earn 30 cents per kW because they’re selling it at the retail rate, which is higher because it includes costs like maintaining the grid."


It is sad that it is taking so long for people to realize that net-metering is an expensive scam, but heartening that opinions are starting to turn around.


Vincent Battaglia's picture
Vincent Battaglia on Jan 24, 2022

It's sad and breaks my heart that those who have no practical solution on how to replace the current broken model of energy generation and delivery of electricity comment publicly with nothing more than baseless slights at those who are working every day to implement the only practical solution into the needy

market today. 

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jan 26, 2022

"... nothing more than baseless slights"

Basically every year for the past decade, the US DoE's National Renewable Lab has published a report on the cost of renewable energy from various sources.  Every year, residential rooftop solar comes in at four or more times the cost of utility scale windpower and 2-4 times the cost of utility scale solar.

Furthermore, adding high levels of residential solar will require expensive grid upgrades on every street, as compared to utility scale generation which only requires upgrades to the lines that connect the generators to demand centers.

The biggest problem though is fact that the phony economics are easy to push on the public with residential.  Many people don't understand that most of their electric bill is due to the distribution system and account service (i.e. things that aren't reduced by PV generation with grid backup), as these components are often hidden in the cost of the electricity.  People are easily convinced that their PV generation should be valued at retailed prices, when in fact, all electricity purchased by the power company should be purchased at wholesale prices.

Vincent Battaglia's picture
Vincent Battaglia on Jan 26, 2022

I’m not sure where to start. Maybe to just go right to the end. Distributed generation energy models…of which PV and battery storage were specifically invented to address…is our only solution to our energy crisis. The current hub and spoke model is antiquated, growing ever increasingly expensive to maintain and is subject to outages, environmental and terrorist events. You might agree that we have moved from that structure it with technology. That technology is here and is manageable, flexible and Human hands are manufacturing right now. Yes, it scales in the typical way that new technology does when in early stages but with economies that will be addressed in short time. And if the public wasn’t required to participate in this patch-worked, non-standardized roll-out things would be smooth for certain. 

Yes, you slighted something that you know is true, eminent and unstoppable and that is the sad part.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 26, 2022

Vincent, it breaks my heart that people with no understanding of energy are being allowed to thrust the land and cost impacts of ineffective, "sustainable" sources of energy on society - intermittent, meager sources which have never represented a solution to the existential crisis of climate change, and never will.

I've always resisted the idea humanity was too stupid to solve climate change, but it increasingly appears my faith in human intelligence was misplaced. My bad.

Vincent Battaglia's picture
Vincent Battaglia on Jan 26, 2022

I agree…I do agree with that sentiment. Small-scale, distributed nuclear would be the best solution overall. Though waiting for that small-scale, distributed nuclear is not an option. Waiting, hoping and lamenting is not a solution. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 27, 2022

PV and battery storage will never be a solution, Vincent. Though it seems it intuitive enough - collect electricity from the sun and save it in batteries - what's missing is quantity.
People have no idea how much electricity they use every day. To power a typical American's home using solar panels, and store enough to use when the sun isn't shining, would require more solar and more batteries than they could possibly afford.
Maybe they've read about some ascetic, living in a desert community, who powers his home "completely with solar". They find the idea appealing, so they go out and buy a home solar array - but are disappointed to learn that though it reduces their electric bill somewhat, it will be years before their investment pays for itself. Then, maybe they find out the ascetic had no washing machine, no dishwasher, no television. They find out he could only use his computer during the day, and has a 500-gallon tank of propane in back of his house, to keep warm on cool nights.
I've known several people who have been through this experience. Solar + storage is a mirage, pursued by well-meaning people with only the best intentions, but little understanding of the sacrifices necessary to make it happen.
For that reason small-scale, distributed nuclear is the only option, and expediting its adoption - minimizing the wait - is the best solution overall.

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