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California Regulators Make Controversial Move to Reduce Incentives to Homeowners with Solar Panels

California Regulators Make Controversial Move to Reduce Incentives to Homeowners with Solar Panels

The decision is based on both green justice and social justice principles, so expect failure to ensue.

California utility regulators have just made significant changes to rules applied to the state’s rooftop solar market, saying that the moves will ensure solar-powered homes contribute their “fair share” to maintain the power grid.

The state has long led the nation in adoption of rooftop solar panels, and today more than 1.5 million California homes and other buildings have them. Under a decades-old program, people with solar panels can get paid by their power companies by sharing excess solar energy they don’t need, leading some solar homes to pay minimal electric bills.

That’s led to criticism that rooftop solar customers aren’t paying their fair share into the rest of the energy grid, which many still rely on for power when the sun goes down. Power rates also include things like transmission equipment and wildfire prevention work, and regulators approve a set amount of money that utilities can recover from customers.

As this is California, there were also social justice reasons for the change.

Utilities and consumer groups have argued the incentive payments have unfairly favored wealthier consumers and harmed poor and low-income households. But solar companies and renewable advocates have said that lowering the compensation would slow solar installations and hinder the state’s goals to address climate change.

The proposal, which California utility regulators unveiled last month, will change a net metering policy by paying solar owners for extra power at a lower rate, which is determined by the cost the utility would need to spend to purchase clean power from an alternative source. The solar industry has said the plan would amount to a 75% cut in average payment rates to customers.

Today’s unanimous vote by the five-member commission was monitored across the country, since California is widely viewed as a leader in the renewable energy buildout. The impact of today’s decision will likely extend beyond the state and have implications for the solar industry nationwide…

The power buy-back was a big selling point for homeowners to purchase and maintain solar panels. During the public comment period, this point was made several times.

Before the vote, the commission had a time for public comment, where Californians could call in. The overwhelming majority of the dozens of callers said they wanted to keep the old incentive structure in place.

The callers argued cutting the compensation payment would stifle the growth of rooftop solar because homeowners and businesses would decide that solar panels are no longer worth the investment.

“I’m strongly opposed to the CPUC’s proposed changes that would make it more expensive for everyday people to put solar panels on their roof,” said caller Carol Weiss from Sunnyvale, “My husband and I are both retired and we would never have invested in rooftop solar under these proposed rules.”

After about three hours of public comment, the commission voted unanimously to approve the proposal changing the incentive system.

Part of the decision was also based on green-justice principles to force solar panel owners to invest in very expensive batteries for energy storage…reducing the reliance on those dreaded fossil fuels.

[Matt Baker with the Public Advocates Office for the California Public Utilities Commission] said one of the purposes of the new regulations is to incentivize the purchase of battery-powered storage systems alongside rooftop solar by offering significantly higher amounts of money to purchase power generated by batteries at night.

“[Homeowners] can do two things with the battery: you can offset your own costs, which tend to be much higher because we have tiered rates in the evening, or you can export it to the grid.”

“And if you export it to the grid in the evening, you would get between $0.40 and $1.”

It’s much more than the $0.05 to $0.10 per kilowatt-hour that homeowners will be paid for the power generated by their solar panels during the daytime. But during the California Public Utilities Commission virtual meeting on Thursday, dozens of people spoke out in opposition to the new regulations.

“Batteries are too expensive right now. You’ll limit new installations to either the rich or the subsidized. The middle class will be cut out.”

As this decision is based on both green justice and social justice principles, expect failure to ensue.

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Comments

Solar is idiotic and supplies a tiny fraction of the power in a grid. The gigantic subsidies and paybacks were required for ANYBODY to spend the tens of thousands of dollars necessary to install the near-worthless things in the first place.

They never made the slightest bit of financial sense even WITH the subsidies.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Olinser. | December 21, 2022 at 10:51 pm

    This is 100% true. The break even point is extremely close to the end of life for the panels. Plus, with inflation and devaluation you are spending more valuable money today for less valuable ROI tomorrow (sans energy crisis).

    There’s also the inconvenient truth that all of your elite virtue signaling is farcical because of the hazardous waste and considerable carbon footprint involved in production.

Freaking ugly and amazing how many people fall for this sh!t

Frequency dyssynchrony a la non-sterilizing, therapeutic – maybe – treatment, loosely held, reusable masks to reach population immunity. You’re not helping. No subsidy for you.

The real failure is of conservatives to move out of that communist state and turn their border states red.

The next step will be to demand that those that have solar energy give their excess to the grid for no compensation.

I live in rural Texas with an electric co-op delivering power to me. When I investigated solar as a back-up source and possible only source with the potential of future power generation cutbacks if the watermelons get their way, I found that I would have to let the co-op put equipment on my electrical system that could potentially control my electrical usage. I don’t know if they have that in Kalifornia on solar houses. If they do, I can see the California Public Utilities Commission passing regulations to shut off power usage in these houses, at least the middle class owned ones, to deliver more power to the grid. You know social/green justice and all since the people are just too well off.

    Dimsdale in reply to BillB52. | December 22, 2022 at 8:02 am

    Don’t worry; they will soon come up with a “solar use tax,” to offset the white supremacy of the black “slave” panels.

Point of use solar with a battery storage makes a certain amount of sense from the point of view of self reliance. That said the economics of the purchase are questionable. It’s a free country and folks should be able to spend their own money how they see fit.

IMO the utility regulators should require the providers to break out costs into:
1. Generation costs /purchase cost for external supply
2. Maintenance / repair cost
3. New installation costs

Bill the developers for cost of new installation and purchase of additional power generation capacity to support the new installation demand. Bill everyone a grid tie fee that reflects the costs of ongoing maintenance and repair. Bill power used by consumers whether supplied or purchased as a separate line item.

Doing that ensures a more straight forward and transparent bill so consumers can see how these costs are broken down. If folks sell back power to the grid at peak use and there is differential pricing to consumers during peak use then pay them the wholesale price the utility is paying to commercial providers they purchase from. IMO, consumers shouldn’t be paid retail price.

    chrisboltssr in reply to CommoChief. | December 22, 2022 at 8:51 am

    You will never be able to generate enough solar power to trap it in storage and in turn use it to power your house. Solar anything does not make sense. It is luddites masquerading as elitist overeducated individuals that push this stuff because they have an extreme hatred for the modernity that was gifted to them.

      CommoChief in reply to chrisboltssr. | December 22, 2022 at 10:05 am

      Chris,

      Powering the entire electrical load for a house is possible but extremely pricey and impractical. Enough solar to run an HVAC in the South during the summer would require a significant cost outlay that probably isn’t worth it.

      Solar does make sense for remote applications. The military uses it for that, I’ve used it myself in some very off the grid places while in uniform. Likewise having a solar system as a back up for a grid failure to run a few lights and power up a CPU or run a radio is absolutely viable.

        chrisboltssr in reply to CommoChief. | December 22, 2022 at 10:41 am

        Remote applications that don’t require a lot of power, perhaps. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. If given the opportunity whatever application you used for the military I’m sure you would have preferred a battery of some kind to Solar. Also, in a grid failure I would go with the much more reliable and cheaper generator than the more expensive and unreliable Solar system.

        The only Solar system that works consistently and reliably is the one God made.

          CommoChief in reply to chrisboltssr. | December 22, 2022 at 1:37 pm

          Chris,

          No argument from me that a better intermediate term solution for home owners is a generator. Longer term, beyond ten days then solar panels +battery begins to be more appealing. That’s the period I am focused on in my argument, when self sufficiency is no longer optional and the grid is down and not coming back for a long period.

          Solar alone without battery charging is IMO, the worst of both worlds. It is expensive and doesn’t work at night or very well in periods of lower light.

Power companies pulled this shit in Michigan, where they take peak power worth about a $1 per Kwh and give the consumer $0.12 off peak in exchange. In addition, if a user does not draw it they will not compensate people. My solution to this was to put in about $60KWH battery storage, Not ging to give the power company any juice, first power goes to current load, then it goes to chest freezer to form a big block of ice. Water line in ice goes to radiator in furnace to supply cooling after sun goes down, then power goes to hot water tank. Contrary to claims, solar electric is viable now. Power companies are upgrading their arrays, I bought used panels at $0.25 per watt. payback with sweat equity is under 5 years.

    chrisboltssr in reply to JohnSmith100. | December 22, 2022 at 8:55 am

    This doesn’t sound like the solar panels are powering your entire house, but certain components within it. Which makes sense because it sounds as though you are still connected to the power grid. In other words, solar panels are not viable and never will be.

And the picture to illustrate solar panels reflects why. One of those two sets of panels is installed incorrectly. Looking at the shadows- the pic was shot at just about solar noon. We’re looking at the south facing side of the house. In the early morning the panels on the east side of the house ad west side roof of that east side are seeing no sun, and the panels facing south are being shaded by that same roof. And see how the east side panels on the south facing roof are obscured by the architectural raised roof design? In late afternoon- those same panels aren’t seeing sun when the sun gets to the same angle…

Ad yet, they were likely fully subsidized and approved by “expert” installers and “expert” inspectors.

    markm in reply to gospace. | December 25, 2022 at 6:37 pm

    What do you expect when the real purpose of constructing a solar installation is to collect government subsidies, not to generate power?

Net metering has to go eventually. To borrow a word from the greenies, it’s unsustainable. Imagine a retailer buying a product for $10 and then selling it for $10. No margin, no money for rent, utilities, wages, taxes, insurance, etc. Net metering forces the utility to buy excess solar at the retail price. So the cost of everything else, wages, power lines, buying power when the sun goes down, maintenance, gets paid by all the other rate payers. Yet the solar homes also draw from the grid at night. This move is long overdue.

    Net metering has always been wrong if not evil. You can try to justify but not while being just to the other customers. Also the company should be allowed to not purchase your power if they don’t need it. Unscheduled power is worse than worthless it is destructive to grid stability.

    chrisboltssr in reply to jimincalif. | December 22, 2022 at 8:59 am

    I did net metering. It seemed like I was saving money at first, but over time my bills kept creeping higher and higher even though my family’s usage stayed about the same. It was at that point I realized we were subsidizing someone’s or somethings power usage and I decided to get us off of that plan. Now, my bill again reflects my family’s usage.

    Net metering is a scam. An even bigger scam is that the power technology we have is so antiquated that we should have moved on from it decades ago.

Thank you for investing buttloads of your money to join our attractive program.
Now that your contribution is unrecoverable, we will be unilaterally changing the rules to severely reduce your payback.
Have a happy holiday season!

    “And if you export it to the grid in the evening, you would get between $0.40 and $1.”

    Until they lower the reimbursement rate, like they JUST DID for the old program. Jerked the rug right out from underneath people who were counting on that to make their install “work”, financially.

    Residential solar will dry-up overnight. Even rich folks won’t pay to install it under these rules. The only way it’ll make sense is for severely rural properties or survival compounds.

Taxes for not going green…taxes for going green. For those who live in California and pay the taxes, making money is a privilege while those that don’t pay taxes have a right to someone else’s income. Equity…..

Social Justice for this solar injustice cannot be acheived right away. One hundred years from now, anyone whose great-great grandfather was unjustly treated by people who owned solar panels should receive reparations.

Watch the cost of a home solar installation miraculously decrease so as to maintain the perception of “saving money”.

This is why “green” power generation is worthless. It gets generated when it’s needed least, and the little they did to encourage is now even less. If I were looking at this, I wouldn’t waste money out of my pocket to install or maintain the things.

    henrybowman in reply to Ironclaw. | December 22, 2022 at 6:39 am

    It’s a classic perpetual motion machine scam. Refrigeration is the toughest load to feed, and the areas where solar energy is most available are precisely the ones that need the most refrigeration (A/C). No matter what climate you choose, the noise (solar heat imposed) always swamps the signal (solar PV energy generated).

    Now, I am a great proponent of solar hot water technologies for houses and pools — they’re mature, and they work like gangbusters. The electric stuff is still a mug’s game.

I have 2 houses in my neighborhood that just put those ugly solar panels on their roofs, both cut down several
Large beautiful
Oak trees,
Which provided needed shade in the heat of Texas and one had a large barn owl
Nest.
Idiots all

    RepublicanRJL in reply to gonzotx. | December 22, 2022 at 5:35 am

    We sold out house 2.5 years ago and because of COVID, we fell in the pothole of greatly reduced inventory. However, we saw some pretty nice places but had solar panels. They are ugly and most of the systems were owned. We passed on many houses because of them.

Going green for commie red California is making solar panel owners get purple.

I guess the Biden administration will just tell the solar panel manufacturers and installers to charge less to help out the home owner.

I wonder what would happen if those homeowners disconnect their contributing power source from the grid?

I miss the good old days when the way to reduce the electric bill was to pull your meter and re-install it upside down.
Just kidding, I’m not a thief, but it was a thing about 50 years ago when the meters were more mechanical.

It would actually make the meter run backwards.

Here in California, rooftop panels represent virtual signaling to the neighbors that you are “doing the right thing”. As for the new net-metering plan, it’s true that rooftop installations aren’t contributing adequately to maintenance of the grid, and any new pricing system will undoubtedly reduce the number of homeowners investing in solar panels, other things equal.

The whole rooftop scheme is built on a shoddy premise: that over time homeowners can reap energy cost savings to compensate for their initial investment. But the new proposal will increase the payback period from about 7 years to 9, a perverse incentive.

The likeliest candidates for solar panels are young couples who remain in their homes long enough to recoup their investment. But they typically don’t have the spare cash for the panels. Many who install panels are older homeowners who have paid off their mortgages and have some spare cash. But they may not live or remain in their homes long enough to recoup the investment. This is the irony of the entire scheme, and may yet prove to be its downfall.

Insufficiently Sensitive | December 22, 2022 at 1:33 pm

The callers argued cutting the compensation payment would stifle the growth of rooftop solar because homeowners and businesses would decide that solar panels are no longer worth the investment.

Well, since that so-called ‘investment’ was paid for by other taxpayers as a bribe to install the ‘rooftop solar’ gear, this new proposal is more like justice for all those shaken-down taxpayers who paid for other people’s rooftop fashion items without compensation.

People actually subject themselves to this lifestyle.

social justice anywhere is injustice everywhere. green justice through intermittent/unreliable/renewable energy and environmental blight from conception to sequestration.

Remember those giant satellite dishes from the early 1980s?

They got drunk, had sex with a semi truck full of plywood and gave birth to solar panels. Giant eye sores.

I can’t make the math work on them.

Off grid- maybe, but TBH you’re better off having a generator and a good fuel supply.

Of course if you still live in California, well- you signed up for this. Even as a conservative stuck in these locations, at some point you stop being a victim of these policies and start being a volunteer.

Quite honestly I’m cheering for the gangs, illegals, cartels, homeless and everyone else looting up that state. It’s all part of God’s plan.

Wait, now that people are locked-in the authoritah are changing the rules people depended on to make their choice?

This is my shocked face.

Pseudo-subsidizing bad home solar electric made as much sense as mandating CFLs with LED commodity lighting tech comig up fast behind.

Meaning they had to get people buying CFLs for their producer-friends to make money before LEDs put them out of business.

The mandates and subsidies worked as intended, methinks, though not what they said this was for.

I might just live long enough to see where it costs more money for someone to charge their Prius than for me to fill the Subie.

On the solar sux — no it’s viable back and forth, look at the residential energgy flux per home or per person, now compared to, say pre-1940.

We burn a ton more energy per capita these days in housing and home. Pushing that back down would involve some “lifestyle changes”, kinda like homestead gardening for yield, vs. as another consumer hobby. Push your demand down toward what it used to be, and increases in production start to reach it sometimes.

This isn’t theoretical. Just like enticing people to install solar to increase extraction from them once they’re locked in, pushing people into file-cabinet mass housing, in administered urban warrens is better … until they reduce your access, energy, and air for you, later. The Chinese getting welded into their apartments are in cities, not on farms.

Wait until they start upping the hazardous disposal fees for old panels.

Changing the deal after the fact would be fraud if any entity other than the government did it. But for them, it is just abother day at the office.