California Government Abandons Rooftop Solar, Favors Big Utilities

securing_home_solar_panels

California has stunned green advocates, by excluding rooftop solar from their renewable energy mandate.

According to the LA Times;

California’s aggressive push to increase renewable energy production comes with a catch for people with solar panels on the roof: You don’t count.

If a home or business has a rooftop solar system, most of the wattage isn’t included in the ambitious requirement to generate half of the state’s electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2030, part of legislation signed in October by Gov. Jerry Brown.

That means rooftop solar owners are missing out on a potentially lucrative subsidy that is paid to utilities and developers of big power projects.

It also means that utility ratepayers could end up overpaying for clean electricity to meet the state’s benchmark because lawmakers, by excluding rooftop solar, left out the source of more than a third of the state’s solar power.

Owners of rooftop solar systems and their advocates aren’t happy about the policy.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-solar-subsidy-20151130-story.html

LA Times speculates that this shift in policy was due to pressure from utilities and unions – rooftop solar installers are not extensively unionised, compared to workers in large solar utility plants.

Whatever the reason for this unexpected development, one thing is clear; even über green California cannot be trusted to provide a stable renewables subsidy regime. If you invest in renewables, you’re taking a big risk.

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147 thoughts on “California Government Abandons Rooftop Solar, Favors Big Utilities

      • Well that is fine with me; provided, that the Tax assessor for the counties in which these “big utilities” are going to collect free clean green renewable solar energy, properly assess the real estate improvements that these big utilities erect on those lands, as well as assess the lands themselves tax wise on the basis of their suitability for free clean green renewable energy collection.
        If utilities want to erect solar farms on barren land rather than office buildings or residential properties; they should at least pay comparable real estate improvement property taxes on that.
        g

      • No, I only meant that socialists will always rig the game in their favor. What they never seem to realize is how easy it is to see right through their schemes.

  1. Good.
    Next steep is to eliminate the peoples’ subsidies of the utilities.
    It happened in Nova Scotia Canada wrt wind power. No more subsides = no more new turbines.

      • ….having long ago abandoned the feedback of renewables into their system by private windmill owners.

    • Paul W, Thanks. That is exactly what we should do. Eliminate subsidies for all so called renewable energy sources and let them make or brake in a free enterprise arena. And, be sure to get the subsidies away from the ethanol hogs.

      • But Leonard, evil Big Oil gets huge amounts of subsidies because it doesn’t pay for all the damage it does to our bountiful Lady Gaia. Didn’t you know that?
        /super sarc

    • Also no more use of non renewables like natural gas, to start up their solar thermal collectors. If the sun can’t start them up by itself, shut them down.
      g

  2. It’s never been about the environment.
    It’s always been about the money.
    Even in the land of fruits and nuts.

      • Yes, indeed, Mr. Kurza. Good for you to post that — others, with fuzzier recollections, will be grateful (even if they don’t tell you).
        Marcus!! You are just getting a little too big for your britches tonight! Heh. And I’m too “big for my britches” most of the time, huh? Okay. Touche (with an accent on the e).

      • Aaaa, so sorry, Mr. Kuzara</b! No, I have no idea… just in a hurry (not an excuse, just the reason).

      • Sorry Dennis, I thought you were implying that Anthony was a hypocrite for having Solar Panels…too much coffee !!!!

      • @Marcus
        IIRC, Mr Watts based his installation on the avoidance of peak metering charges, not on any money flowing in via tariff required payments. So even if the local POCO isn’t coughing up any cash, it’s still a net plus for him.

      • What better way to learn the realities of some possibly improved method, than to invest in it in person, so you can see for yourself.
        g

    • I do hope our beloved Mr Watts continues to rake in his “big green” checks at least until those “big oil” checks start coming in.
      What a joke. First they don’t count hydro and now they won’t count solar? LMAO.

    • Good information, Mr. Brozek — though, a separate issue, I think…
      Dangers to firefighters include:
      1. Electric shock
      “One of the essential tasks firefighters perform when first arriving on the scene of an emergency is to cut electrical power to remove the electric shock hazard.
      Traditionally, this task is accomplished by instructing the utility company to cut power to the portion of the electric grid the structure runs off. With solar panels independently generating their own power, this task is difficult and sometimes impossible.

      2. Trip and Fall Hazard
      Another physical danger for fire services is slipping or tripping on rooftop solar panels.
      (Source: http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/firefighters-danger-solar-panels/19689021 )
      *****************************************
      End tax and conventional-power-source-rate-surcharge — subsidized solar power NOW!
      #(:))

      • Current code is that you have to have both an AC disconnect to the mains and a DC disconnect from the panels on the exterior of your building. The DC disconnect is above and beyond any breakers in your combiner. Of course, if you are like me and have 100 KWH of lead acid sitting around, they more or less remain connected until somebody flips the main breakers off.

      • Even with the breakers turned off, if it’s during the day, there’s a couple thousand volts still available on the roof. Firefighters often have to climb up on roofs. Combine that voltage with lots of water being splashed about …

      • Well to get a couple of thousand Volts of solar cells, you would need 4,000 solar cells in a series string. That’s also about 1,000 square feet of six inch cells. You would also need a DC to AC inverter system that has over 2,000 Volt operational semiconductor switching devices in it.
        No earthly reason to start with 2,000 V DC to generate 120 V RMS AC for dumping on the grid.
        If you took the roof solar off the grid, you could get by with say an 18 -24 V DC system.
        !8 Volts is quite popular for LED lighting systems.
        But yet it is true that solar panels are a nuisance for fire fighters, but they don’t have to be electrically lethal.
        g

      • george e. smith
        December 4, 2015 at 1:40 pm
        George,
        No earthly reason to start with 2,000 V DC to generate 120 V RMS AC for dumping on the grid.
        I²R losses in the cabling? Better to put as many cells as possible in series for the lowest cabling losses.

    • Hm. Mr. Brozek… LACFD likely has a lot of union members… .
      I take that back, this may NOT be a “separate issue.” Good detective work!

    • @Werner Brozek: California has regulations on solar system cutouts for exactly this purpose. My system has a very large (and expensive) cutoff switch on the outside wall of my garage for this very purpose. “Vanishingly small” risk to firefighters is a gross understatement; when the switch is thrown there is no risk at all. At the very best, this is nothing more than an education problem. A firefighter who doesn’t turn off the power and gas to a structure before entering it is asking for trouble, but this is also a concern for every structure entered. Solar power is no different from grid power in that respect.

      • … A firefighter who doesn’t turn off the power and gas to a structure before entering it is asking for trouble, but this is also a concern for every structure entered….
        Agreed, but the problem for renewables is that, AFTER having thrown the switch:
        1 – power may still be being generated INSIDE the building
        2 – power is almost certainly being STORED somewhere inside the building.
        Both of these are extra sources of danger for a firefighter…

      • The roof installation will remain energized as long as their is light shinning on the panels. Turning off that breaker just means that the power is no longer flowing to the interior of the house, but it still remains.
        I wouldn’t advise the fire fighters to put any water on the roof during the day.

      • MarkW on a cloudy day, there is enough light on the panels to energize them. On a cloudy day when it is raining, the panels don’t short out. So don’t worry, the coating on top of the cells is non-conductive, and fire fighters learn about that as they stay abreast of any situation that would endanger them.

    • its a weight on roof issue as well as inability to vent where needed issue.
      cutting power is SOP no matter if if panels on or not. you cut ALL power sources as one of the first steps.
      spent years on vol fire dept got training for panels due to few people here (maine) being early adopters or using them for hot water.

  3. Utility companies argue that rooftop solar users don’t pay their fair share for power lines, transformers, wires and other costs associated with maintaining the electric grid. So they have proposed a range of fees that the rooftop solar industry says could kill its business and the expansion of rooftop solar in the state.

    (Source: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-solar-subsidy-20151130-story.html )
    Yes! D1e, “green energy,” d1e!
    SMILING!
    ***********************************
    Lol, dig this:

    “People aren’t are stupid,” Washington said. “Some people are going so green, they’re off the grid.”

    (Source: Ibid.)
    There. Fixed it for ya. One guy in that article was aiming for zero “carbon” emission, lol!

    • Perhaps this will cut down on the number of telemarketers robo-calling my land-line trying to get me to install solar? Please!
      BTW since the government is monitoring phones, why can’t they stop the telemarketing calls to people on the FTC no-call list? As far as I can tell, the telemarketers ignore that list. I wouldn’t be surprised if some are actually using it as a prospect list.

      • Because the no call list was just a cover to connect people and locations. If you recall, to register your cell phone on the do not call list you are required to do it on line. Now the government has an IP associated with the cell phone. Also, the rules allow a “mistake” if the company has purchased a government produced no call list, posts it in the work place and has a policy that telemarketers must check the list before calling. So no company ever really gets fined unless they are really stupid.

    • Utility companies argue that rooftop solar users don’t pay their fair share for power lines, transformers, wires and other costs associated with maintaining the electric grid.

      Using that argument, utility companies should be forced to split their businesses into generation and distribution companies. Then it can be “user pays” properly. Additionally the fact that the distributed solar installations actually decrease the load on the distribution network should be taken into account.
      Then it becomes more obvious that most of the cost should be borne by the generating companies.

      • I do not follow Tim. If a private solar user is using the grid “power lines, transformers, wires and other costs” and the general cost of his non solar power includes those necessities, then he should continue to pay for those costs, and the subsidy received for feeding power back into the system should be reduced accordingly to the generation cost only.

      • David A writes “then he should continue to pay for those costs”
        But pay who? The only fair and transparently equitable way would be to pay a company who provides that service and not pay to the company he is effectively competing with.
        Hence the need to separate the distribution business from the generation business.

    • Hey Janice? Some of us are aiming for not paying usurious power bills while also keeping our freezers cold when PG&E decides they have better things to do during an outage than fix a line that 5 houses use. It has nothing to do with carbon.

    • Off grid represents about 2% of solar, the weak link is investment in a finite battery life, so everyone is still waiting for true innovation, Elon Musk notwithstanding.
      Off grid is what we just did, a minimalist approach, a willingness to make a change of lifestyle, and off we went. Loving it.
      Guess what we learned?
      PV envy is a real thing and its not a pretty picture.
      But who cares? No more power outages.

      • I love it when activists assume that the only reason they are being ridiculed is because others are envious of them.
        I guess that’s what it takes to convince yourself that being stupid is actually being smart.

      • Good for you, Xy — if living like that is your personal “pursuit of happiness,” more power to you (so long as you and not coerced tax or rate payers paid the full cost of the equipment necessary, solar cells, and the like). It is not “envy” to not want to pay for others’ lifestyle choices.
        Further, bear in mind, you and Bartleby, that the KEY issue with “unreliables” (Jorge Kafkazar coined this, for me, anyway, lol) is their utter inadequacy to fuel a thriving economy such as that in the U.S.. You living like “Little House on the Prairie” or “The Swiss Family Robinson” is fine — I doubt if you would be pleased with the results if your dentist’s office, your local hospital, your favorite airline, or U.S. industry were to do the same… .
        You can indulge your personal philosophy and yet not live in the misery of an Indian or an African peasant because you live in a land where electricity and fuel is relatively cheap.

      • What is it about the unreliability of off grid battery home electric systems, that somehow isn’t a problem with electric automobiles ??
        g

      • yeah I’m in envy that when its -28 F here I just have to turn a key on a generator if power fails…oh wait thats not envy.

  4. The reasoning comes in near the end.

    “They excluded it because the unions and corporate entities didn’t want it,” said Jamie Court, president of the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog.

    • Roy – California’s aggressive push to increase renewable energy production comes with a catch for people with solar panels on the roof: You don’t count.
      And the hydro power suppliers say “Welcome to the Club.” Different reason however, hydro not counted because, if it did the renewable supply level would have been met.

  5. Nothing new. In the seventies i installed a solar hot water system on my house in Marin. Signed up for and got this PUC mandated PG&E credit of something like ten bucks a month that was supposed to last five years and offset 600 bucks or so of the 1200 dollar cost of the system. About two years into the program the credits stopped appearing on my PG&E bill. I called and was informed the PUC had ended the subsidy…

      • The subsidies were so great that some ran diesel generators at night so that they could sell their energy 24/7.
        The scheme was sorely abused.

    • gymnosperm
      Solar thermal heating is for most users, the only form of solar that is cost effective.
      A solar thermal system does not cost much, and repays for itself within a few years. I have a holiday home in Spain where one of my neighbours has a solar thermal unit which was installed about 25 years ago, and is still working. It can supply at least 90% of the hot water requirements year round. In the winter when there may be a few consecutive cloudy days it requires backup from an electric immersion heater in the tank, but generally it does a very decent job.

      • Richard, I have a neighbor who has solar thermal, put in about 20 years ago. It worked beautifully for 15 years, and then a part broke. He tried to get it repaired. Company no longer in business, and the part is some special valve that is no longer made. In addition, when the whole assembly was installed, there was no effort made to enable that valve to be replaced. The plumber who came in said they would have to disassemble the entire system to replace that valve, but since they didn’t know what the specs were, they couldn’t guarantee that the system would work. After all that, a leak was discovered in the holding tank for the hot water, and the heat exchanger is an integral part of the holding tank.
        Solar thermal works well, for as long as it works. The neighbor can’t just tear out the old system, and put in a new one, because the cost would be prohibitive. So all of the “free” energy he received for fifteen years is now trumped by high replacement costs. Now, that is just one example, and everyone will get different results.

      • Or, even more cost-effective, just turn off the water heater, except for the brief time needed for a once-a-month shower. 🙂

      • I certainly concur that transition energy technologies are inherently a financial risk; any decision you make, however, carries financial risk. Fifteen years ago I bought a condo with conventional hot water tank. I have had to replace it twice. Current efficiency regulations mandate more insulation, which means new tanks are larger in diameter and won’t fit in the closet where the tank is located. I was fortunate that I found someone who has stocked up on older tanks that will fit in the closet. Next replacement will require changing technologies. I had a similar problem with an air condition I bought 8 years ago, which uses Freon no longer manufactured and now very expensive. This year I decided that in the long run I would be better off replacing the air conditioner. Darned if you do and darned if you don’t.

  6. Give me a break. The unions don’t count. Not even in California. It was the utilities, but hell we can’t just blame the real corporate culprits. Got to blame unions to to be fair and balanced.

      • Why should the utilities provide all the transmission lines etc, and not get pad by the people using them?

      • The utility’s claim is bunkum. The cable, poles, and transformers used by residential customers ALREADY EXIST. The idea that skating a couple dozen PV panels on top of the roof creates some additional infrastructure burden is crap. In fact, it’s the large scale projects that are going to require new infrastructure, since they are likely to go up where there’s no consumption now and hence, no infrastructure.

      • David A:
        Trudge over the PUC (public utility commission) and discuss the particulars with them….
        They balance the tradeoffs in their laws and rules and guidelines and policies and preferences and such to address your question.
        The utility companies (like the insurance companies) see what kind of operational adjustments they need to make to optimize profit based on the said rules and guidelines and policies and such. They don’t optimize profit based on service/efficiency; the companies are managed based on the gauntlet of ever changing regulations that they need to conform with (or that they can loophole for their benefit).

    • spot on davidgmills. the corporate leeches that take more money from tax payer subsidies in nearly every developed country than the so called wasters on welfare will not stand for the peasants taking money they think belongs to them.
      as always, follow the money.

  7. So if you rely on political caprice – particularly leftard political caprice – “you’re taking a big risk.
    And in other news, dogs have been observed returning to their vomit.

    America’s elite found on university campuses, in news media and in political office are chief supporters of reduced private property rights and reduced rights to profits, and they are anti-competition and pro-monopoly.
    They are pro-control and coercion by the state. Their plan requires the elimination or attenuation of the free market and what is implied by it — voluntary exchange. Their reasoning is simple. Tyrants do not trust that people acting voluntarily will do what the tyrants think they should do. Therefore, tyrants want to replace the market and voluntary exchange with economic planning. Economic planning is nothing more than the forcible superseding of other people’s plans by the powerful elite backed up by the brute force of government.

    — Walter Williams, “Elite Contempt for Ordinary Americans” (25 November 2014)

  8. The voters here in the Soviet of Washington state, in their infinite wisdom, voted to require utilities to generate a significant amount of power from renewable resources a few years back. But guess what? Hydroelectric power doesn’t count. Go figure.

    • Hey Gary! Don’t look now, but our wondrous and ever-social-ist Gubner Jay (I’ll-pass-a-carbon-tax-on-my-watch) Inslee, after his recent carbon-tax legislation was slapped down in Olympia this past session, and in an end-run around the wishes of our legislators has now directed the State Department of Ecology to “Set carbon pollution limits to help slow climate change”. Read it, oh fellow Washingtonians and weep:
      http://www.ecy.wa.gov/news/2015/130.html
      So, can’t get your way via vote? Why, just use your constituent-endowed “Executive Powers” to force your will directly through to the DOE. And the justification? That the EPA has declared CO2 a ‘pollutant’. BOHICA, fellow denizens of the once-great State of Washington!!
      MCR

  9. The People get shafted, again.
    But, once again, it was largely self-inflicted. They tried to jump on a money wagon, did a deal with the devil (some scumbag of a rooftop solar salesman) and now they’re going to cry because the everlasting flow of milk and honey from their rooftop is starting to dry up.
    To those who thought they could stick it to PG&E and other big boys… this was always going to be the ultimate outcome.They have had the CPUC and Congress in their pockets for years. You were just too blinded or greedy to see it.
    Next time: beware of the salesman promising a free lunch. It means you’re gonna get screwed.

    • @ Mike Smith. Yes, it is hard to be sorry for those who wanted a free ride on the solar scam. Because of them and all the other green energy scammers, electricity rates go up. And guess who suffer most–the poor for whom utility rates are a major source of their budget.

    • Your jealousy is showing Mike. I got mine… 🙂
      In all fairness, you need to consider that I also got taken for about 3.5 million at gunpoint in 2000 so I figure whatever I can get back from those b@stards is fair.

  10. It’s worse than you think in CA. The Utility companies will not buy your excess energy from solar. There were some that gave you no credit at all but I don’t know if that’s still true. You can work down your monthly bill but you can’t make money from it. And yes, the “infrastructure surcharge” has been announced for solar contributors. I pay about $30/mo. in taxes and fees not associated with the amount of my usage so solar users already pay that.

    • MarkL writes: “It’s worse than you think in CA. The Utility companies will not buy your excess energy from solar.”
      Whoa there Mark! I sell power in CA. Happens every year. Where is this information you have coming from?

      • Bartleby commented: “….Whoa there Mark! I sell power in CA. Happens every year. Where is this information you have coming from?….”
        My neck of the woods…..Southern California. I am not aware of any location that allows it beyond credit towards your personal use and even then return varies. The major suppliers here are SCE and SDG&E. Once you have returned the equivalent power to the grid that you consumed how much are you paid for your excess? It even varies city by city even though the cities aren’t the producers.

  11. The State of California imports about 1/3 of its electricity from other states, especially Oregon and Washington using high voltage direct current (HVDC). This was established before the current global warming scare got underway.
    How can Californians feel good about themselves if wind turbines cover far away landscapes. Please, produce your own power locally. Become “locovores” of your own power (Plocovores). In other words, …

    • John F. Hultquist commented: “…How can Californians feel good about themselves if wind turbines cover far away landscapes. Please, produce your own power locally. …
      Environmentalists are more interested in what you can and cannot do. They believe their part is policing you for compliance.

    • John Hultquist writes: “How can Californians feel good about themselves if wind turbines cover far away landscapes.”
      John I produce and sell solar power in CA. I considered wind and gave it up as a very bad plan. There are quite a few of us. If you don’t want to sell power to CA then don’t. Don’t produce power at all. Buy it from me.

  12. “even über green California cannot be trusted to provide a stable renewables subsidy regime. If you invest in renewables, you’re taking a big risk.”
    Thanks for posting this, if you hadn’t I’d likely have missed it.
    I have a solar array originally spec’d at 10kW. It consists of 3 arrays managed by 2 “Sunny Island” controllers and 3 inverters. It’s grid tied but includes a 5 hour battery backup and a 15kW propane generator. The system switches to batteries when the grid fails, and switches so fast I don’t need to reset the clock on my oven. At night it runs on batteries until they drop to a 50% state of charge (SOC), when the Islands automatically turn on the generator. When the batteries hit 97% SOC, the system turns off the generator and goes back to batteries until the sun comes up or the grid does (rinse and repeat). I’ve had it installed for a little over 10 years now and I’m very pleased with it. I purchased it through Sunrun and although their service response time is poor, the product (array, inverters, controllers) is fairly reliable. It paid for itself about 4 years ago and has another 10 years on the warranty.
    I’m so pleased with it that I’m currently in negotiations with Sunrun to install a similar system in a house I just bought in Central California. I have to say that this recent decision by Governor Moonbeam is not welcome at all and will likely cause me to reconsider.
    I’ll also say (for the record) that I didn’t purchase the system to reduce my carbon footprint. My home is in an isolated area that gets very little attention from PG&E and I’ve had outages that have lasted over 4 weeks during the 35 years I’ve owned the property, which is an in-holding surrounded by state parks and national forest. It operates completely off grid when necessary. I sell power during the summer months and buy it back in the winter. The system allows me to purchase power cheap and sell it at a higher price. I’m a firm believer in the “buy low, sell high” strategy.
    It’s my feeling, after reading the full text of this article, that California is NOT interested in energy independence, at least not for individual property owners, which is consistent with the rest of California’s socialist policies and growing evidence that California no longer recognizes the concept of “private” property; you don’t own property in California, you lease it from the State. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that we must all suffer the poor services provided by our PUC regulated energy providers equally; no one is to be spared.

    • I’ve lived in the same all-electric house for 25 years. Our power has been off a maximum of 4 hours in one incident. We’ve had 4 or 5 shorter incidents, usually when an auto or a tree takes down a pole.

  13. PS: I didn’t mention that the array I own, which was originally spec’d at 10kW, actually produces 60kW during 6 out of 12 months, which is why it paid for itself so quickly.

    • Duke… 10 kW plate systems do not produce 60 kW of output. EVER. Perhaps you meant to say, “my 10 kW rated system often produces 60 kilowatt hours per day” at least six months of the year?
      That would not surprise me in the least. I tend to use 5 kWh/kW per day for northern climes, 6 kWh/kW for pretty ordinary suburban settings and 7 to 8 kWh/kW per day for the southwest desert regions. For the obvious trigonometry reasons.
      Just saying
      GoatGuy

  14. You know 4me, we in the communications biz have a moniker for people like you? We call them a “waste of bandwidth”.
    Think about that next time you decide to post a butt-load of garbage.

  15. Eeegads, so those who have enjoyed the rich subsidies out of all proportion for generating solar power are now going to get paid/save what it’s actually worth? Oooooh what a shock.
    And I guess from all the shouting it wasn’t all to save the earth….

    • Zen writes: “I guess from all the shouting it wasn’t all to save the earth….”
      Absolutely not. It was pure self interest on my part, though I can’t speak for others. I did it to save money and improve reliability. I don’t care if you freeze to death at all. Far as I’m concerned you’re on your own.

      • Bartleby, sorry if you didn’t pick up on the /sarc.
        But yes I’m sure 99% of people who spent a dime of their own on PV systems were 99% doing it for the perceived financial benefits offered at the time. The ‘green cache’ they could boast about at parties was probably the added bonus.
        On your other point – I live in one of the most beautiful areas of Australia. Freezing to death is more than likely not on the cards 😉

      • Zen writes: “On your other point – I live in one of the most beautiful areas of Australia. Freezing to death is more than likely not on the cards ;-)”
        And a sincere “good on ya” Zen. I live in the most beautiful parts of the central California coastal mountains, though I’m also a former rancher on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. I gave that up when I got too old and too cold to keep doing it. The first time my hand froze to my tractor I decided it was a game for younger men than I.
        I sincerely believe self-interest will save our species. We take care of ourselves, if everyone does that simple thing, there won’t be any problems.
        Sorry (and a little ashamed) I didn’t see the underlying “sarc”. My mistake, thanks for understanding.

  16. Subsidies for roof top solar was a very poor idea, and a regressive tax. It ends up by making the poorest who do not themselves have the financial means to by an independent house with a rooftop, pay money to the wealthy who can afford to buy such properties. That is extremely unfair.
    Further, roof top solar is often not that efficient since the rook inclination is often at less than ideal angles, and the panels are not steerable and the roof is often not at the ideal southerly direction.
    That is more of a problem for high latitude cloudy countries, such as the UK and Germany, than it is for the likes of California, but subsidising inefficient solar, as the Germans are finding out, is exacerbating energy supply, security and competitive cost.

    • Richard Verney writes: “Subsidies for roof top solar was a very poor idea, and a regressive tax. It ends up by making the poorest who do not themselves have the financial means to by an independent house with a rooftop, pay money to the wealthy who can afford to buy such properties. That is extremely unfair.”
      You want unfair Richard? Let me tell about about unfair.
      Unfair is when a Government takes 45% of your retirement savings and gives it to someone else. That’s unfair. It has happened to me. I’ll take all the Government subsidies I can get and I’ll likely die long before I recover those loses. That’s unfair.

      • Bartleby, I understand your sentiment yet I agree with Richard; the system as it was set up raises utility costs for everybody that pays for them, which includes a lot of people with less assets then your self.

      • @David : I’m afraid I don’t set rates on the power PG&E buys from me, or the rates they sell at, that’s a matter for the PUC. What Juan says is correct; I received no “subsidy” to purchase my system, instead I didn’t pay 30% of its cost in taxes. Like Juan, I don’t have any qualms at all about not contributing the fruits of my labor to the common good under threat of incarceration or death, I prefer my charitable acts be voluntary. It would appear we disagree on that subject?

      • @David : Correction – while I do agree with most of what Juan writes it was McComberBoy who described the tax situation most eloquently. A tax reduction isn’t a subsidy, it’s only an opportunity to keep something that would otherwise have been taken from you by force.

    • Subsidies for roof top solar…ends up by making the poorest who do not themselves have the financial means…pay money to the wealthy who can afford to buy such properties. That is extremely unfair.
      Completely agree. If it was deemed necessary to allocate taxpayers’ money to bootstrap the solar industry, it should have been done on public government buildings so that all citizens would get the benefits.
      I could be fairly criticized of being inconsistent (read: “hypocritical”) for having taken advantage of the installation incentives myself. Best defense: I too am paying the taxes that subsidize these installations; why make myself doubly a victim by refusing what benefits may exist? Further, the long term experience of some of these systems is somewhat in doubt; those of us who take the plunge assume some degree of risk, both physically and economically. But I confess, I am not really satisfied with this defense.
      Further, roof top solar is often not that efficient
      Agree and disagree. Agree in that what you say is objectively true for many locations. Disagree in that there are huge areas of the planet where solar is completely practical. For example, the 2KW system that we turned on in June of 2011 has produced (at the moment) 311 kilowatt hours more than we have used over that time period. Sure, Southern California is in the sun belt, but there are an awful lot of people living in the sun belt. (And a sizable number of snowbirds who start showing up around this time of year.) : > )

      • Juan, just to further your guilt (-; you do understand that many times the power your system feeds back into the system is completely superfluous, as in not needed or used.

      • David A: Juan, just to further your guilt (-; you do understand that many times the power your system feeds back into the system is not…used.
        Dave, my good man, I can’t quite buy this. All the power I feed back into the grid gets used by somebody, somewhere. Azusa Light and Water does not have giant ballast resisters to dump unwanted power.
        BTW, my electric bill last month was $4.87–all taxes. That does tend to divert one’s attention from the sensation of guilt. : > ) I agree, though, with those who say we should share the cost of maintaining the grid, and a reasonable access fee is in order.

        • Juan Slayton commented: “…. I can’t quite buy this. All the power I feed back into the grid gets used by somebody, somewhere…”
          You need to understand how the power grid works. Because there is no storage any excess power is in fact……dumped. Private solar power from thousands of sources in tiny increments cannot balance the grid properly as I understand the process. It’s not an on/off situation but rather a requirement with buffers for surges to prevent brown outs. That’s just one reason why wind or solar can never offer 24/7/365 reliability without storage. Someone correct me if my simplistic explanation is off target.

      • Markl: You need to understand how the power grid works.
        Wouldn’t argue with that at all.
        It’s a requirement with buffers for surges to prevent brown outs.
        Well, what kind of device would serve as a buffer? I used the old ballast resisters that used to appear in portable (vacuum tube) radios as a straw man example. I don’t know of any practical device that would be used to dissipate the power I am sending to the grid. At least one manufacturer of large scale solar that I have come across incorporates circuitry to damp down peak production when necessary; I would expect that most utility scale producers do this. That, however is not ‘dumping’ power.
        The power that leaves my house and enters the grid is going to a load somewhere. The exact distribution of that load’s elements could probably in principle be described by Kirchoff’s laws, but people are using it and likely paying the utility retail rates for the privilege.

        • Juan Slayton commented: “..Well, what kind of device would serve as a buffer?…”
          “Buffer” is a poor choice of words on my part. It’s not a device per se. I should have said ‘reserve’. Not stored, not used, but available for use if necessary in a spike or emergency outage of another power plant on the same grid. That’s where we get our reliability. The minuscule and unreliable amount returned from private/rooftop PV probably isn’t even counted on as reserve much less primary. In a sense you are right, it’s not ‘dumped’ (another my poor choice of words) but it’s probably just extra not used.

    • Nonsense Richard.
      I got no subsidy for my solar array. What I got was a reduction in the confiscatory taxes for one year. And I’ll take it in a heartbeat. Why anyone, much less everyone, thinks that 50% or higher effective tax rates are a good idea is beyond me. Or worse, that if I somehow benefit myself with solar power and reduce my high tax rate, that I am now making some poor sod pay me money is stupid beyond all recognition. He paid nothing extra. I beat the taxman away from my family for one brief moment.
      The high rates for PG&E are their construct for separating the masses from their money. They love high rates and will continue to push them higher, regardless of who suffers or who can afford it. And the same with natural gas. How, in a glut market, can we reasonably be charged more for using gas past our baseline, or past the use of “similar homes” in our neighborhood. And the answer for all is, “BECAUSE THEY CAN”!
      So no, I don’t feel guilty and I will not apologize for my solar panels. Confiscatory taxation and unchecked rate hikes are theft. And I always feel good about preventing theft.
      PBH

      • You are simply incorrect, and you get paid for the energy you put back into the system at a rate that includes all the transmission costs, something you never provided. In addition, the power your system produces, is often not needed or utilized, and yet you get paid anyway. Richard is quite correct.

      • ….oh, and of course the original subsidy is on top of all that, and as government produces nothing, that comes from your fellow citizens as well.

      • David,
        Do you pay taxes? If you pay fewer taxes this year, how does that money come from someone else? There is no divine right of taxation, only confiscatory policy from drones at the state and federal level. People who produce nothing and encourage people like you to think in terms of reduced taxes as a burden on the poor or some such. The old ‘earned income credit’ here in the states. You didn’t earn any income, but you get a tax credit (real dollars) from the government, but paid by me and others who do earn and pay taxes. Do I feel bad if someone who didn’t earn failed to take that money from my pocket? And that, as a result, I now have a solar array on my roof? Not in the least. Your failure to take money from me makes me feel good, not guilty.
        And yes, I get paid for electricity back into the system. But tell me, since you want me to pay for infrastructure, which part of the transmission system was added for my panels to contribute to my neighborhood air conditioners on a hot day in July? If anything, the utility should pay me for not having to transport energy from hydroplants in the far away mountains. They are saving transmission costs by transporting my electricity shorter distances. Solar panels, by their very nature, produce the most electricity at the most crucial times. Wind…not so much. So if most of my power stays in my neighborhood…all good and no guilt.
        PBH

      • Very good description of the true nature of the solar “subsidy” McComberBoy, along with the practical reasons PG&E have such high rates.
        It’s an open secret PG&E have neglected power infrastructure in California for a very long time in favor of maintaining high dividends for their stockholders, something I can understand completely since they are a private corporation, the purpose of which is to make a profit. I can’t agree that small producers should be responsible for correcting that situation though; until I can set the rates I charge PG&E for my power, I should not be made to pay more for infrastructure than I anyone else.
        Infrastructure expenses are already included in my power bill, just as they’re included in yours. Why should I pay more for that infrastructure than you do simply because I both produce and consume power? It’s not like I’m putting pink diesel in my pickup. The rates I buy and sell power at are set by the PUC. There’s nothing particularly special about my electrons.

    • @richard verney & Juan Slayton. Yes, rooftop solar is less efficient because the panels are in a fixed position and immobile.
      However, if one is open to spending the additional funds, the panels can of course be ground-mounted on a racking system. This enables the addition of a tracking mechanism which will tilt the panel array to follow the sun from east to west (or southeast to southwest) during the course of the day. This will increase the efficiency and the amount of the sun’s energy you capture during the day.
      Ground mounting on a racking system should also eliminate the rooftop hazard for firefighters. Whether the ground mounted racking system and tracker are worth the additional cost is probably a matter of debate and individual choice.
      One website claims an increase of anywhere from 27-39% with a tracking device (their claim, not mine):
      http://www.solartrackingsystem.com/.

  17. big claim!
    3 Dec: Guardian: Jonathan Watts: Uruguay makes dramatic shift to nearly 95% electricity from clean energy
    In less than 10 years the country has slashed its carbon footprint and lowered electricity costs, without government subsidies. Delegates at the Paris summit can learn much from its success…
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/03/uruguay-makes-dramatic-shift-to-nearly-95-clean-energy
    unpacked:
    3 Dec: Bishop Hill: Solving the Uruguay mystery
    But today, according Jonathan Watts in the Guardian, Uruguay has made a “dramatic shift to nearly 95% electricity from clean energy”…
    I struggled to work out what has happened here – I wondered whether this it was just the environment journalist’s traditional trick of using capacity figures but talking about generation (as favoured by Roger Harrabin). But even that didn’t seem as if it would be big enough.
    The answer turned up in the Uruguayan National Energy Balance document (in Spanish), which contained this graph…
    God, the journalists at the Guardian are shameless.
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2015/12/3/solving-the-uruguay-mystery.html

    • I read this story somewhat differently.
      The taxpayers of the US and UK should give a big thank you to the Guardian for pointing out that countries in the developing world can transform their energy status to one based on renewables without massive handouts from the hard pressed working families in the developed world.
      The quote needs to be writ large :
      -“Delegates at the Paris summit can learn much from its success …”-
      Thank you Johnathan Watts (presumably no relative)

  18. Nothing new about this: the one never-changing reality is that big politics, big business and big unions always want to control everyone. Forever.
    One rule for small business and individuals. Another for big business.
    Same old, same old.
    What’s the difference between ‘green corporations’ and ‘big bad old corporations’?
    Absolutely nothing……

  19. 2 Dec: Politico: Carla Marinucci: California Playbook, presented by Chevron: BROWN blasts Republican climate ‘disgrace’
    CALIFORNIA IS TALKING ABOUT…six days in Paris for Gov. Jerry Brown — a major commitment of time, energy and scheduling, with a lot at stake. At the UN Global Climate Change conference, he leads a crowded delegation of legislative leaders, high profile business and tech titans, in a schedule packed with headline-generating events.
    — Bottom line for the big Paris stage: It’s about who will emerge the winners (and losers) in the race to clean energy, and what will be the real deliverables while other major pressing issues also loom on the state horizon.
    http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/california-playbook/2015/12/politico-california-playbook-presented-by-chevron-brown-blasts-republican-climate-disgrace-panettas-sigh-of-relief-perea-moving-on-211547
    2 Dec: Politico: Carla Marinucci: Jerry Brown lambastes Republicans for climate vote ‘disgrace’
    Regarding criticism from increasingly vocal Hollywood luminaries like actor Mark Ruffalo, who have sharply criticized his failure to stand against fracking, the governor suggested that they are largely ignoring the realities of Californians’ own continued reliance on cars and foreign oil.
    “I don’t think it’s responsible to let third-world countries do the oil production so that Californians can drive around, even in their hybrids,’’ he said. “We have to shoulder our part of the responsibility. And reducing our climate footprint is not ‘snap your fingers, take one issue,'” he said. “To just instantly kill an industry, with all the backlash that entails, with the trivial impact on climate change, does not seem to me the wise way to go.’’
    On Bill Gates’ new investment coalition and its heavy representation from Silicon Valley billionaires who seek to develop new green technologies, Brown called it “a testament to California’s leading role in technology and innovation. .. It will create jobs and opportunity. It’s a good step forward, and I’ll do whatever I can to support it.”…
    http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/california/2015/12/8584437/jerry-brown-lambastes-republicans-climate-vote-disgrace

  20. from the Politico link “California Playbook”..the Governor’s Paris delegation:
    ALONG FOR THE RIDE: Led by Gov. Brown and NextGen Climate founder Tom Steyer, the delegation will include Jim Mahoney, Global Corporate Communications & Public Policy Executive, Bank of America; K.R. Sridhar, Founder and CEO, Bloom Energy; Thad Hill, President and CEO, Calpine; Thad Miller, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary, Calpine; Pasquale Romano, President and CEO,ChargePoint; Nancy Pfund, Founder and Managing Partner, DBL Investors; Sister Susan Vickers, RSM, VP Corporate Responsibility, Dignity Health; Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, Kaiser Permanente; Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, Senior Vice President, Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy, Kaiser Permanente; David Crane, CEO, NRG Energy; Anthony Earley, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, PG&E Corporation; Cathy Zoi, CEO, SunEdison Frontier Power; Rob Davenport, Chairman, Sungevity and Lyndon Rive, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SolarCity

  21. If you invest in renewables, you’re taking a big risk.
    No! No risk at all. You WILL lose your money, guaranteed!

  22. Two question. Does this ruling apply to Google? How does this effect Cal’s cap and trade?

  23. All this means is that the tax payer subsidies will go directly to big business. Big business understands how to make the proper donations to the proper politicians in the proper amounts. And when the solar panels are mothballed it is easier to quietly shut down a few Potemkin Village style facilities than it is to remove thousands of residential sized installations.

  24. Many good comments about the subsidies required to sustain roof top solar. One further observation. Supporting rooftop solar works as a “do gooderism” when the costs are bearable, penetration levels low and no real results need be shown. Especially if the costs are widely dispersed or put on third parties with fairly deep pockets. When you broaden penetration, have to achieve targets, show results and you begin to measure and make decisions among competing alternatives – in most cases roof top solar should be one of the first alternatives to fall by the wayside.

  25. California has stunned green advocates, by excluding rooftop solar from their renewable energy mandate.
    I am surprised myself that California can do anything that makes sense. However, I guess they finally saw that they were making the electric grid less stable without really doing any reduction in CO2. Either that, or their cronies told them that they had sucked all the profits out of that sector and were moving on to another sector that they wanted the state to help them with. Time will tell which I guess.

    • A search of the California incentives shows none of the underlying subsidies for residential rooftop solar has actually changed. If you can identify a subsidy that has actually changed (not some $50 per MWh alleged difference in the article), an actual policy change as in documented on a State of California website – please do.
      What this actually does is require more UTILITY SCALE SOLAR PV in CA to meet the mandate.
      Federal State Local and Utility subsidies for Rooftop Solar PV and Thermal in CA are unchanged.

  26. Nova Scotia, I am an Aussie.
    Now I don’t know much about your people or you.
    But, I am excited because I am about to search.
    It’s not research because I have never searched about you before.
    I am convinced that the natural intelligence of your population is of an extremely high level.
    No drongoes you mob.

  27. “LA Times speculates that this shift in policy was due to pressure from utilities and unions”
    Dang, am I going to have to say something nice about unions now???

  28. A note about PV solar panels. Any PV solar panel in line of sight of a nuclear EMP explosion will instantly and irreparably be destroyed by the EMP. Period. Trashed. Only good for providing shade from the hot sun.
    Therefore it is foolish and imprudent for any plan for providing power to incorporate more than a few percent of power from PV solar.

    • @buckwheaton
      every single unshielded non EMI/EMF hardened piece of electronics with integrated circuit, connected to TP, coax, or any other connection that will allow current to be induced in the wiring or circuit will suffer the same fate in the same situation.

  29. Big Government realised that subsidising any form of independence is basically shooting themselves in the foot.

    • You’re on to something there, but in California, which is run like a communist state, even Rush Limbaugh is brought to air by government public service announcements, urging us lowly subjects (note, I don’t say citizen, because we have no say in what they do to us) to install the rooftop solar.
      Tax subsidy and write offs are the main selling feature that they themselves push.
      With that going away the state energy board will have to cobble together a whole bunch of new radio spots.

  30. 1) By excluding roof top installations they are effectively mandating more over all solar generation.
    2) By excluding roof top installations they are reserving the subsidies for their friends and campaign contributors.

  31. Duh. Generating energy where it is needed without incurring transmission losses makes sense, ergo, Cali-fornication-ia politicians aren’t in favor of promoting it. It also undermines their stock in utility-scale solar plants of course.

  32. As always, the vested interests outweigh something that actually can be good.
    The cost of panels etc. continues to drop. In a FUNNY way, having your own power source is a GREAT way to bail out of the state run electric system. As mentioned, pandering to Unions, and to the local electric companies outweigh the idea of having your OWN electric source!
    And worse, if you have your own electricity, then you not paying taxes and providing a source of revenue to the state run system.
    In other words, if the socialist’s watermelons (green on the outside, and red on the inside) find out that some energy source really is great, they move to destroy it to protect the state and self-interest of groups. It really never about being green, but always about control and taking your freedoms away.
    While PV panels are not for everyone, with such affordable panels these days, this ever increasing viable technology is now viewed as a threat to the state!
    Regards,
    Albert D. Kallal
    Edmonton, Alberta Canada

  33. Further confirmation that the left uses energy, environmental, and social policy issues only as a steppingstone to exerting control over ordinary citizens. They have no interest or concern about the issues or their effects on the people, only the power they can gain by whipping up their base into a frenzy over the issue de jour.

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