California’s Boneheaded Solar Remedy for Climate Change

Good intentions can make for awful policies.

by Steve Chapman

In the world of government policy, two chief dangers always loom. The first is people with bad intentions using every available means to achieve their malignant goals. The second, more common but no less destructive, is people with the purest of hearts and the most boneheaded of methods.

For an example of the latter, look west, where the California Energy Commission just decreed that starting in 2020, new homes must be equipped with solar panels. Commissioner Andrew McAllister boasted that the rule “will propel the state even further down the road to a low emissions future.”

He has the right idea. With environmental vandals in charge of the federal government, the state’s leaders are justifiably motivated to do what they can to combat climate change.

“We don’t want to do nothing and just sit there and let the climate get worse,” Gov. Jerry Brown said last year. California is at particular risk from global warming, which will inundate low-lying areas of its 840-mile coastline with rising salt water while fostering more droughts and wildfires inland.

Its utilities are already on track to get half their energy from solar and other renewable sources as soon as 2020. The state is also fighting the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to gut controls on vehicle tailpipe emissions. The energy commission says the solar panels and other requirements will cut a typical new home’s energy consumption by 53 percent—”equivalent to taking 115,000 fossil fuel cars off the road.”

But there are three major flaws in this approach. The first is that it’s a highly inefficient way to expand solar energy. University of California, Berkeley economist Severin Borenstein told the commission that he and the vast majority of energy economists “believe that residential rooftop solar is a much more expensive way to move towards renewable energy than larger solar and wind installations.”

No kidding. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory figures that on a kilowatt-hour basis, electricity from home solar panels costs 2 1/2 times more than electricity from large solar facilities operated by utilities.

The California approach brings to mind Mao Zedong’s call in the 1950s for Chinese peasants to build steel furnaces in their backyards. Many vital tasks are done best on a huge scale, and generating electricity is one of them.

Another drawback is that it will aggravate the state’s most notorious problem—astronomical housing costs. The median home price is now $524,000, in large part because of regulations that make every attempt to put up new housing only slightly less challenging than the Normandy invasion. California has fewer residential units per person than 48 other states. It’s a major reason more people are leaving the state than coming.

The new mandate will be another burden on new home construction and purchase because it is expected to add $10,000 or more to the cost.

Full story here

143 thoughts on “California’s Boneheaded Solar Remedy for Climate Change

  1. This is what illegal immigration yields…a 2/3 majority political entity capable of the wildest whims of its Leftwing base with inspiration from The Little Red Book. Time to leave.

  2. I almost expect the return of the common article about how much people hate energy efficient lights. One neighbor, who owns several show stores, griped for years about how he was being forced to use more efficient bulbs, and he wanted to hoard incandescents. Fast-forward to today as he boasts about the huge energy savings his LEDs are giving each store.
    Sure, adding $10,000 to the cost of a new home is not a great thing (although a drop in the bucket for the cost of the home), but that’s the current cost (it will go down) and the owner will save in yearly costs immediately. Price of solar has come way down, and will continue to come down.

    • “Price of solar has come way down, and will continue to come down.”
      Forcing everybody to buy something is just about the best way to guarantee that the price will go up, not down.

      • so why do we need the subsidies?
        so why do we need the forced purchase?
        Is it that we all so stupid that we can’t see the benefit, or is it that we are all so stubborn that we refuse to admit we should put the solar panels on the roof?
        (and as for $10K being a drop in the bucket … what do you consider to be crumbs?)

      • “And yet the cost of solar (everything) has plummeted.”
        You might have noticed that compulsory solar roofs will come into effect in 2020 which is later than 2018. Cause usually precedes effect.

      • “And yet the cost of solar (everything) has plummeted.”
        Not enough to not bankrupt Spain…

    • At $540,000 electric costs are hardly an issue. The point of the article is true – utility sized solar is always going to be way cheaper, making rooftop solar a really, really stupid idea. And houses with solar roofs also
      have a bad situation in case of fire – those solar panels prevent firemen from cutting holes in roofs. It is also true that when the roof needs replacing, the solar panels add greatly to the costs, and there is the $5,000 inverter required for each house and they won’t last more than 15 years. Rooftop solar is a very inefficient means of generating unreliable, very low value solar power. Most of the costs of solar roofs are not in the solar panel – they are in the labor costs and the costs of the inverter.

      • “those solar panels prevent firemen from cutting holes in roofs.”
        Not true at all, the NEC and IFC have rules panel placement that maintain access, and insure safety for firemen.
        “there is the $5,000 inverter required for each house”
        Not true at all. A top quality 6KW grid tie inverters can be purchased for less than $2,000 each. SMA’s Sunny Boy 6.0 and Fronius’s Primo 6.0-1 both include dual power point trackers, DC disconnect, arc fault detection, ground fault detection, and WiFi & LAN connections.
        “Rooftop solar is a very inefficient means of generating unreliable, very low value solar power.”
        Not true at all. My 6.7KW array produced 8,406 KW/hrs last year. It offset ALL of my electrical consumption, and banked about 260KW/hrs of energy credit for this year. My only electrical energy cost is the monthly $8.75 meter charge, and any per KW/hr line charges when I use energy from the “bank”. At $0.145 KW/hr, the materials have a 7.7 year payback, but that’s before the Fed 30% tax rebate.

      • I don’t know if roof replacement is such a big deal with regards to solar panels. My Kalifornia home had concrete shingles, and when I sold the house after 27.5 years the roof was in fine shape. The solar array will barely last that long.
        On the flip side, my roof was poorly installed. Didn’t know that until it was three years old, and the drought of the early 90’s eased. The whole roof had to be torn up (in stages over 20 years) to finally repair the crappy installation. All holes that appeared from using wrong nails, punching holes in the plywood base with hammers, etc. Couldn’t sue the company. Bramalea California went bankrupt before the house was a year old (victim of housing crash in 1991).
        Lucky I didn’t have a solar roof. Expensive enough as it was! Not just for me, but the whole development. Imagine the extra repairs of having another system involved – which would also have been sloppily installed.
        Any protections for home owners if the builder performs a poor installation of roof or solar array? No, I thought not. Buyer beware. I’ll never return to California to live, but if I did, I would only consider buying a used home.

      • Paul, I looked up the SMA inverter you referenced. It has a maximum output of 240 VAC @ 25 amps. To power a 100 amp home, you would need four of them. That doesn’t include the batteries associated with it nor the maintenance. It all adds up to a lot more than what you’re trying to pass off.

      • @Paul, @Jim
        “Paul, I looked up the SMA inverter you referenced. It has a maximum output of 240 VAC @ 25 amps. To power a 100 amp home, you would need four of them. ”
        100 amps? For that price housing, I would never consider a 100 amp electrical service. 200 amp is pretty typical for modern homes, so that would mean even more or higher rated inverters. Definitely NOT competitive.

      • “those solar panels prevent firemen from cutting holes in roofs”
        Through which they inject massive amounts of water that destroy your house, anyway.

      • @Jim Gorman “I looked up the SMA inverter you referenced. It has a maximum output of 240 VAC @ 25 amps”
        Yes, 25 Amps is 6kW. Those inverters are grid tied. The export power back to the grid. My home is also connected to that same grid. The electric meter is bi-directional and measures both incoming and outgoing energy. I do have a 200A service and a $9 electric bill, it works out quite well.

      • @ mpteditor “…Definitely NOT competitive.”
        Yet it is! It seems you’re commenting on something that you do not understand at all.
        Look up grid-tie inverters, they supplement the grid not replace it. As I said, my 6kW inverter and 6.7kW array produce more energy per year than I consume per year. And the kicker is; all of the Liberals at work got to chip in on my costs too. It’s kinda changed the global warming/taxes conversations we have at lunch.

      • “Not true at all, the NEC and IFC have rules panel placement that maintain access, and insure safety for firemen.”
        There is no possible way to foresee where a roof might need to be ventilated, so there is no placement rule that could prevent problems. It’s dependent on the specifics of that fire.
        As for safety, well, with regular power we can disconnect it, but with rooftop solar there are potentially energized lines on that roof. If I can’t see clearly due to the smoke (not at all unlikely), I’m not risking it.

    • In that case, you don’t need to point a gun to people’s heads and mandate that they install these panels.
      Nobody forced people to purchase cell phones…. or cars with air conditioning.
      Of course, people like me, who don’t want solar panels for our own reasons would be screwed… those of us unfortunate enough to live in California anyway. Fortunately, I don’t live there, and nor will I be moving there ever.

    • The after subsidy cost has come down.
      There is zero chance these units will produce enough electricity to pay for their actual installation and maintenance costs.

    • But that neighbor never mentions that those ‘cost saving’ light bulbs contain MERCURY.
      Need I explain?

      • Of course he never mentions it, because they don’t contain mercury.
        Yes, I really think you should explain.

      • @ richard verney “CFLs contain mercury”
        Those are the ones folks were forced to buy.
        In Washington State they want (wanted) people to take them to certified return-centers and pay 25 cents to drop them off. No send to the land fill for these sweet things.

    • If the price of solar has come down, then no need for subsidies, feed-in tariffs or even mandates… cancel them all. Now. Solar would be an obvious good idea. It isn’t. So even if the cost of solar has come down, it’s still not low enough to be competitive. And will never be, if one does a true life-cycle-cost-analysis and includes the required cost of the required spinning backup (usually fossil fuel fired, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing) to cover for the solar when the sun don’t shine. Because batteries won’t do it. Come on, someone show me an honest and complete life cycle cost analysis for a solar installation, whether rooftop or an array that covers the State of Nevada.

      • As long as coal and oil are subsidized, you are correct that solar would look less enticing.
        End subsidies for coal and oil. Now.
        And the complete life cycle of solar is FAR less costly in terms of money and environment that renewables.

        • SK, What subsidies for oil and coal? Unless one makes a “social cost of carbon” POOMA claim, and then jump to the claim that fossil fuels are not paying your imaginary “cost”, the fossil fuel industry pays taxes.
          Currently, without interventionist programs, from outright subsidies to mandates for use of “renewables”, wind and solar are not competitive with conventional power sources, except in very limited circumstances.

      • @Scott Koontz May 15, 2018 at 9:03 am
        “As long as coal and oil are subsidized…” There are no subsidies for coal and oil, just normal depreciation that ALL businesses can take on their capital investments. To play fair, I’ll allow the solar panel buyers to take the same depreciation on their solar installations (even though the solar installation won’t last as long as the allowable depreciation schedule requires, you’ll still be depreciating long after the panels have simply become additional shade and birdhouses on your roof), and it won’t even require a change in tax law, it’s already in there.

      • Scott’s comment “Scott Koontz May 15, 2018 at 10:00 am
        Huge subsidies.”
        Amazing that someone who lacks the basic analytical skills to recognize a bogus study of taxation some how possesses the superior brain power to ascertain the validity of climate science.
        A few items which should give a hint to the errors in the study
        1) it is from Vox, an activists news organization
        2) a tax deduction for an out of pocket cash expenses can only be construed as a subsidy by someone who lacks any concept of federal or state taxation
        3) The study, like all similar studies ignores the 5-8% state and federal severance taxes which is taken off the top.
        4) ths study like all similar studies ignores the royalty payments on production on federal and state lands averaging 15-20+% of the revenue.
        5) this study like all similar studies ignores the oil companies incur 100% of the costs of development and production while only being entitled to 85-70% of the revenue – before costs and state and federal income taxes
        Scott – are you even capable of recognizing the math errors in the studies or even the conceptual errors ?

      • “Amazing that someone who lacks the basic analytical skills to recognize a bogus study of taxation some how possesses the superior brain power to ascertain the validity of climate science.”
        Seems that this site of full of people who know less but insult more. It’s bogus because Joe says so, even though he never read it.

      • Scott Koontz May 15, 2018 at 10:00 am
        Huge subsidies.
        Scot – try to address my points 1- 5.
        Try to explain why a tax deduction for an out of cash expenditure is a “subsidy”
        Mathematical question – See if you can find the math errors. Let me know if you can find the basic math error
        Hint – anyone with knowledge of federal taxation should be able to assist you.
        Hint – In figure 6 – the first three have massive math / computational errors
        number 7 is bogus – basically claiming deduction the all manufacturing gets should be repealed specifically for oil companies – ie effectively a higher tax rate for on industry. – You might have noticed that provision has been repealed with the 2017 tax act – but you can continue to cite that study if it makes you feel better.

        • Yeah. the Vox article is special pleading on accounting and imaginary numbers on “remediation” to derive the “subsidy” numbers. Many English Lit or Women’s Studies majors just do not know anything about accounting, and they are the type the article is pitched towards.

      • Scott, your reference to that specific article (and your defense of it) shows what you really are.
        You are not very good at this.

      • SK,
        Fossil fuels are a major net tax generator.
        Renewables are a major net tax recipient.
        Prove this statement wrong!
        This is the definitive fact that blows any claims about fossil fuel subsidies out of the water.

      • + 100000
        Also, what about recycling? I have read that there are piles upon piles of spent solar units, that are too expensive to recycle. What happens to these units? I, too, would like to see an honest beginning-to-end Life Cycle analysis for ALL types of energy sources. This type of data is what the Greens used against the Oil companies in their false promotion of Solar.
        The Oil companies for years have had all of their end life data out there for others to cherry pick for PR purposes. This data is a part of the Regulatory processes that Oil has had to follow for all of these years.
        When do we see how much energy Tesla actually uses to produce a battery? Or, to recycle a Tesla,? or the same battery?

    • When they first came out, they were mercury laced poor light color fluorescent lights. When LEDs came out they were about 60% accurate for color and harsh on the eyes due to flickering and started at about $40 a light. I would complain too. Now, they have increased the flicker to 240Hz and light color can exceed 90% accuracy if you are willing to spend enough. And they start at about $3 a bulb although with enough bells and whistles you can still blow $100 or more on one.

    • Hi Scott,
      I am not sure where they pulled that $10,000 figure for cost like will be closer to $20,000 but beyond the point of solar costs for the home buyer the completely ignored fact is that with the proliferation of grid scale solar the wholesale price of electricity at peak solar production times is at or near zero sometimes below zero, which means that the value for that energy that the “home owners are trying to sell” is worth $0, though the costs of providing that $0 energy is very far from $0 as solar is an intermittent non-dispatchable source of electricity and as such requires “back up” or standby generation waiting at idle to see if the solar will “show up” or not. If you haven’t noticed the cost of electricity in California have been steadily climbing as the forced political solution to a non problem has created a convoluted and complex web of inefficient electricity generating “resources” that are unreliable and multiply the costs to consumers for electricity. It is pure folly to have politics dictate on engineering issues! Not to mention the issue with homes in California being exceedingly expensive as it is and adding to that expense with foreseeable future expenses because of the added solar does not make sense. This is completely asinine, South Australia grid problems here California comes!!!
      /rant off

    • Just read that the “blue” light from LED’s in large cities and also from tablet and phone screens are messing up people’s circadian cycles and moods; apparently blue light interacts with serotonin/melotonin and now they think it’s having “health” effects–not that you could measure them, of course!

    • continue to go down , really. You really think its a straight line continual reduction? when do you expect zero cost? will they end up paying us?

    • Same LED’s are now supposedly responsible for many health risks, ( mentioned in other WUWT articles), and a return to the new high efficiency the way to go…Like with Lasers, Spectrums have a lot to do with things…

    • “I almost expect the return of the common article about how much people hate energy efficient lights. One neighbor, who owns several show stores, griped for years about how he was being forced to use more efficient bulbs, and he wanted to hoard incandescents. Fast-forward to today as he boasts about the huge energy savings his LEDs are giving each store”
      Fantastic Cherrypicking you did there. You conveniently neglect to mention, that when the government started banning incandescent bulbs, LEDs hadn’t even completely replaced incandescent bulbs in flashlights yet. The technology available then were CFLs. CFLs always were a dead end technology and inferior to incandescent bulbs. They were expensive, without subsidies. The light was of inferior quality and often failed to meet claimed output. The startup time to full brightness was measured in minutes. They worked poorly, if at all, outside in the winter. On top of all that, with the frequent on and off of household lights the CFLs would often not last much longer than incandescent bulbs. (They sure didn’t in my home.) People hoarded incandescent bulbs for good reason; the government mandated replacement, CFLs, didn’t work.
      Absent any efforts by the government, nobody would have touched CFL bulbs. Instead LED bulbs would have been voluntarily adopted once the technology improved to the point it has.

    • An enormous advantage of solar on roof tops is that it reduces the profound damage the greens do to environments they don’t care about like the Mojave Desert. The chief objection to home solar is the damage it does financially to utilities, public and private. In Sacramento you can use no electricty from the grid at all and still you will be reguired to pay a city connection fee. SMUD would suffer other wise. PG&E is not at all fond of home generation either. Somewhat less than a century ago small holders in the Sierra often had generators driven by Pelton wheels powered by small pipelines carrying water catured by small weirs along perrennial streams. They frequently sold excess power to PG&E, who could pass along the cost with no source maintenance. The USFS did their best to end this. Keeping those perennial streams perennial would mean logging operations that could not just toss the slash in the creek. You can still find the remains of these small generators in the Sierra, even small Pelton wheels abandoned along no-longer perennial creeks.

  3. There’s an irony here. The very same article could have been written about CAFE standards, which Mr Chapman seems to think are so vital that their repeal is ‘environmental vandalism’.

    • Don’t CAFE standards actually encourage people to stick with gasoline/diesel cars? If you can get more MPG with gasoline and it’s cost effective, why buy a Tesla or a Volt? I personally think if there were 50 mpg cars available everywhere, no one would even look at EVs.

      • Ah, but in California “defensive driving” often means driving the largest pickup you can afford. It is absolutely amazing how many pristine pickups cruise the streets and roads. Many have never had anything of any sort in their beds. Crew cabs are particularly popular with families.

  4. Think of the new climate victims: those that will die from falling off the roof during install, houses catching fire, and death from maintainence. These will be trackable.

    • We have a more direct example of that, in Grenfell Tower. There is to be a public inquiry, although I shall be very surprised if the climate subsidy-suckers are implicated.

      • Grenfell Towers should be a thing to beat the green blob over the metaphoric head with at any opportunity. Besides being economically useless, very badly engineered, and deadly, it was an example of virtue signalling gone amok.

  5. Wouldn’t this also create substantial local fluctuations in energy distribution? If it’s a sunny day in Alameda and raining in Oakland doesn’t that create unpredictable variance in demand, and additional demands on infrastructure?

    • Oh yes… nothing like adding uncontrolled electricity sources into a grid where every erg going in has to be balanced by ergs being taken out in realtime.

  6. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful has gone to the CA heads. Communitarianism – Mussolini’s dream, the attack on Big Govm’int, is that. From all these “small” PV rooftops will spring spontaneously , but mind you, unknowably how because of the complexity, economic benefits.
    As noted all that springs forth from this fascist economics is housing prices. Problem is citizens hear the mesmeric music and look at the bills. This is sometimes called “cognitive dissonance” by well meaning commentators. Hayek of the London School of Economics called it the most brilliant psychology ever.

  7. The real threat to man’s existence is not climate change, but leftists in places like CA. The spread of their ideological recipe beyond the borders is the real threat. Everything they touch goes to crap. Insanity knows no bounds. The destruction in the wake of their public policies is straggering and shameful. As more people leave CA, perhaps a wake-up call is in order. However, I doubt it.

    • Yep. I’d much rather a Yankee move into my neighborhood than a Southern Californian.

  8. Post says:
    Its utilities are already on track to get half their energy from solar and other renewable sources as soon as 2020.
    I was a PE working for a utility, and can say that’s a load of BS. No utility has yet to come close to getting half their energy from renewables (I’m not including hydro as a renewable & neither does Californy AFAIK). Germany SAYS they have alot of renewables, but they’re backed up by neighboring countries’ power interconnections.
    Now, maybe CA is just not mentioning they plan to suck energy out of neighboring states like they already do — only to do more of it, but they need to admit it and stop the massive lie/virtue-signalling.

  9. “Its utilities are already on track to get half their energy from solar and other renewable sources as soon as 2020. ”
    With one statement, the author lost all credibility.

  10. There are days I am convinced that California’s present government is actually trying to drive hard working good people out of the state. I had friends outside of LA that had lived there for a couple of generations. Their complaint, too many people. Personally I think the whole idea of solar is idiotic but if you are going to cover large acreage with solar panels I would rather have it on people’s roofs than covering large areas of wilderness.

    • Agreed. Why ruin open spaces and farmland or endangered desert tortoises when you can just pile the panels on houses?

      • On your house, structurally supported 25′ above your back yard, Over your driveway, Over your Front Yard
        Just place a structure 5′ above your roof ridge line covering your entire property and cover the entire surface with Solar Panels.
        What’s needed is Solar Trees with the small oval solar cells incorporated into their leaves.

    • Doesnt actually achieve much once trsnamission is damaged. You need to go the whole solar/battery off grid hog.

  11. None of these choices are as simple as Mr. Chapman says. A huge reason people like living in California is the weather. Almost all California migrants — even from Mexico — come from regions that are colder and/or cloudier than California. That proves two things: 1. People aren’t afraid of warmer climates. And 2. They’ll endure almost any expense, hassle or indignity to live in a nice one. Who would move to California if the weather stank?
    (Personal note: I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t like the California climate. I lived there for several years and found it boring.)
    Another flaw in Chapman’s scenario: The alleged increase in “wildfires” due to climate change is actually complex, not just a result of heat. California and other Mediterranean climates have a five to seven month dry season with almost no rain. Most wildfires occur in late summer just before the next rainy season begins, because that’s when vegetation is driest and most vulnerable to fire. Fires tend to be worse in wet years, because seasonal grasses & herbs grow taller, and leaf litter from trees is deeper. Some of the climate models predict California will become wetter, not drier. Whether it becomes warmer & wetter or warmer & drier, or something else entirely, is still up for grabs, but none of the scenarios are apt to increase fire danger. In addition, preventing fires — which is more likely as the state gets more populated — makes fires worse when they do occur, because more flammable material accumulates over time. Vast ecosystems of North America west of the Mississippi were shaped by seasonal fires for hundreds of millions of years before people arrived from Asia. Nobody was there to worry, write scary headlines, or pass well-meaning but ineffectual legislation, but all that stuff happened anyway.
    In short, you can predict doomsday, or not, and get predictions right and/or wrong. Add to that the cherry-picking of data by interested parties, and the whole damn argument ends up like screenwriter William Goldman’s quip when asked how to predict future success for movies (another weather-dependent California industry.)
    Goldman said, “Nobody knows anything.”
    You can chisel that one in stone, especially for something as complex as climate.

  12. I am glad Kaliforniaks did the move. It will cost them much, but I hope to benefit. How?
    Everyone need a roof, so the cost of a solar roof must not be compared to the cost of an industrial solar production unit, but to the cost of a roof. And the cost of a roof is not so much in what it is made of (concrete, asphalt, iron, straw, stone, or whatever), than in the manpower to put it in place.
    With a market as lucrative as California, roof material makers will scramble to design practical solar roofing resulting in solar roofs no more expensive than non-solar one.
    If they succeed, very good.
    If they fail, despite the best condition for their business, the experiment will teach the world a worthwhile lesson

    • You simply miss the point.
      Solar panels will be mandated, the market will have no choice but buy to them.
      Solar panel companies cannot fail under those circumstances.
      Quite a racket.

      • quite a racket indeed. However YOU miss the point. Customers will obviously turn to the cheapest way to respect the Diktat, that is, to providers doing the cheapest roofing respecting the standard. Solar panel companies cannot fail under those circumstances, but only the cheapest roofing will hit the Jackpot, and that is good for me, paid for by californiaks.

    • Good point. Expect to see solar shingles that are cheap and generate just enough power to satisfy the law.
      Unless the law stipulates how much power must be produced the complexity of solar will quickly take many houses offline and the cost of repairs vs power savings will lead home owners to simply abandon repairs.

      • Yes. People looking just for a roof won’t care is the solar part fail, and this will happen quickly. A good solar roof produce only a few dollars worth of energy per day, that is not enough for most people to really care to keep it in working condition when something fail.

  13. If houses are mandated to install solar panels, this opens up the legal right to sunshine.
    What if a new high rise next door blocks your sunlight? Are you entitled to compensation for the lost electricity.
    What if your neighbor plants a tree? Isn’t a tree a carbon sink but if it blocks a solar panel it now becomes a carbon source.
    The lawyers are rubbing their hands.

    • An interesting death spiral, fewer trees, because they block the solar panels, fewer trees means more electricity to run the air conditioner, more solar panels to reach the percentage mandate …

  14. 10,000 added cost! I wish! This opens the door to massive gouging by a solar industry that has been concerned about its future since the change in Gov in the US and a loss of heart in renewables in Europe. Chinese solar are now subject to big import taxes and federal subsidies are dead. This puppy is going to have to co.pete in the marketplace naked and alone.
    I think there is a good opportunity for a consultancy to home buyers to estimate solar performance based on home orientation to optimum sun angles. This will lead to purchasers avoiding buying subopltimal homes and result in lower prices being paid for them. Government was an invention of Rube Goldberg.

    • It is also an immediate gouge on the permit cost. Permits, being based on improvement value, now cost that much more.

  15. The entire master plan of the left is to funnel all sources of energy into a government controlled system.
    The taxes they will impose will be staggering, and for what purposes?
    If they control sources of energy they essentially control everything.

    • “If they control sources of energy they essentially control everything.”
      That’s been the underlying objective of “climate change” BS from the beginning.

    • There are also a number of politicians who fall into the “well intentioned but ignorant” camp.
      Not understanding the “broken window” fallacy, they actually believe that California’s economy is dependent on electronic technologies and thus ANYTHING they can do to bolster such industry is a net win for the state.
      That argument was prevalent in the bill to add large additional financial incentives to the purchase of EVs (which would benefit Tesla).
      These of course are the same folks who honestly celebrate the fact that it takes an order of magnitude more labor for “renewables” to produce the same amount of electricity compared to a fossil fuel plant. Think of the JOBS!

      • George, they use the same argument for building stadiums for sports teams. They constantly drone on about what a net benefit is when looking at the jobs. I have always asked if one stadium is beneficial then why not 2 or 3 extra 🙂

  16. This is definitely not a “Break Even” deal. If you invested that $10,000 and the $150 extra added to the mortgage payment month into an IRA or decent mutual fund you could easily have over $300,000 dollars in your retirement account. You then need to consider the cost of annual maintenance. For the average person it is going to be about what they spend on their HVAC – A SWAG is about $500 a year average. Also the city/county/state is going to include the PV system in your property taxes. CA Property Taxes are about 2% so that adds another $200 annually to your costs, And finally, there is the Insurance costs. Replacement value insurance for this additional $10,000 is going to easily be about 1% annually or about $100.

  17. “California is at particular risk from global warming, which will inundate low-lying areas of its 840-mile coastline with rising salt water while fostering more droughts and wildfires inland.” They really think BIG.

    • Actually, the wildfire risk is in the warehouse district of Oakland where Jerry used to live and it has nothing to do with global warming.

  18. “In the world of government policy, two chief dangers always loom. The first is people with bad intentions using every available means to achieve their malignant goals. The second, more common but no less destructive, is people with the purest of hearts and the most boneheaded of methods.
    For an example of the latter, look west, where the California Energy Commission…” The author is making quite a leap here, and not necessarily a factual one.

  19. Fortunately, solar panels descend from the sky as free gifts from the angels and are not the product of environmentally devastating manufacturing processes.

  20. “The new mandate will be another burden on new home construction and purchase because it is expected to add $10,000 or more to the cost.”
    Not to mention how it will drive up insurance costs, since when your house is on fire and you have LIVE (and they can’t be “turned off”) solar panels generating ELECTRICITY on your roof, the fire department will let it burn rather than risk electrocution. Even if insurance companies haven’t caught up with that additional risk yet, they will after a few otherwise unexpected “total losses.”

  21. Solar panels may be worse for energy production overall, but they are better for individual energy independence – so long as they have battery backup and transfer switches. Let me elucidate: Right now, my power comes from the grid; if the grid is down, my power goes away. If I have solar with Powerwall and transfer switch, then, when the grid goes down, I still have power. If it is during an earthquake recovery situation, I can let my neighbors charge their phones and put their meds in my refrigerator.
    The advantage to solar is that it makes for a distributed energy generation system. And yes, I know that most of the solar systems are deliberately installed such that they fail when the grid goes down – this is hugely counterproductive and should stop.
    I do not know of any other affordable form of ‘perpetual’ self generation of energy for the individual.

    • “when the grid goes down, I still have power”
      Not if the power goes out when it’s dark, or cloudy. And it’s not “perpetual,” it’s “intermittent” – and “unreliable.”
      Install a gas-fired whole house generator, on the other hand, and as long as you can get gas cylinders delivered, you CAN have “perpetual” energy.

    • Why have two separate systems? I have line power, but all my backup is 100% separate from that line.

    • @Janet – “they are better for individual energy independence”
      Not really.
      After all, the number of times the power in the places I have been living has gone out during the day I can count on 1 hand in my 28 years. As well, it typically goes out when weather conditions are bad (such as a storm) where the solar panels aren’t generating anything and a wind turbine has to be locked lest it destroys itself from spinning too fast.

    • Affordable? a solar system, with batteries that will sustain a household for a significant period even letting neighbours use it. Affordable? not for most people, not even feasible for people who dont own their roofs. You know those poor people. Let them eat cake I guess.

    • “I do not know of any other affordable form of ‘perpetual’ self generation of energy for the individual.
      There is this thing called “wood”, you know. Or, even better, vegetal oil of any kind, that a diesel generator will eagerly consume to provide you electricity. mineral oil still better of course. Much cheaper (and environmentally friendly) than any solar power, last time I checked.
      The best system would be cogeneration at home anywhere you need both electricity and heat. That is, pretty much everywhere. Instead of wasting the heat in atmosphere as is done in a powerplant, it would be of use, and this would more than compensate the lower efficiency of microsystems compared to a GigaWatt powerplant

  22. The problem here in California is we have a governor capable of saying, out loud, something as half-witted as this: “We don’t want to do nothing and just sit there and let the climate get worse,” Gov. Jerry Brown said last year.”

    • Climate is the perfect policy vehicle for excuses because it does not change cyclically that much compared to political tenure.

  23. Man made policy distortion for misguided, advocacy brownie points is on display again. This is a warning to any learned climate scientist to stand clear and avoid educated input on what is wrong with this picture. It does make you wonder about the amount of evidence would be needed to get through the thick layers of insulated ignorance. My guess would be more than normal fluctuation and even multi-decade cycles of swing.

  24. Another great idea by the Sacto Boneheads! Add another $10K to the costs of homes which are in severe shortage in California coupled with rent control and the new and higher taxes on housing. A perfect solution to bring more affordable houses to all! What a great solution!

    • California ruling class use illegal immigrants as cheap labor, and the poorer these stay, the more they be benefit. So any scheme that prevent these poor to save money, on housing for instance, is deemed good. Especially when it pumps money toward “high tech” and government, that is, ruling class pockets.

  25. It’s just another pure play for high-cost, labor intensive rooftop solar at the expense of low bid utility scale solar. This is where bias in the media and legions of nonprofits come into play.

  26. This writer lives and works in Chicago.
    So why does he care about California’s home-solar mandate?
    He knows the California Crazies in charge of governance there are giving the entire environmental movement a bad name. He is right. Cal’s climate change fever is so off the rails that the entire movement deserves all the scorn and derision that can be heaped on it.
    He advocates for large scale solar farms rather than individual units on homes that make solar power even more expensive. Okay. He sees the problem as one of scale.
    The reasoned, rational thinker though would realize it is a problem of not letting the electricity market sort it out without government picking winners and losers in the first place.
    The stupidity of his argument comes in the fact that solar power is already too expensive relative to conventional means of reliable grid power production.
    If it came right down to it, Mr Chapman couldn’t “reason” his way out of a paperbag. He mentions the California gas excise tax isn’t high enough and it should be even higher, while completely ignoring Cal’s carbon tax that is already on the gas. Both are already making too expensive for the poor and lower middle class. Today they make choices between feeding their family quality food or buying gas to get to work, and he wants to charge them even more for gas, while an EV is an expensive novelty item for the affluent..
    Further his ridiculous bias is on full-display with his, “With environmental vandals in charge of the federal government, the state’s leaders are justifiably motivated to do what they can to combat climate change.”
    He fails to see is was the US constitutional vandals were at work in Washington DC for 8 years and wrecked enormous damage on freedom, liberties, and the workings of our free market economy.

  27. “No kidding. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory figures that on a kilowatt-hour basis, electricity from home solar panels costs 2 1/2 times more than electricity from large solar facilities operated by utilities.”
    I don’t know why this argument is not used more often, because it kills rooftops neatly efficiently.

  28. I live in Ventura, a few blocks from the beach. My typical electric bill runs around $50 per month. A new home will NEVER pay back for the solar plant installed, since we don’t really get hot enough to use AC.
    But here’s a thought – the new Desert Sunlight solar farm in SE California generates ~160,000 homes worth of power. It cost ~$1.5 billion. Rather than dump the $100 billion into the high-speed-rail to nowhere (they still do not know how to get the train to Los Angeles), build 66 more of these Desert Sunlight farms and provide free power to just about everyone in California (around 13 million households in CA, 67 Desert Sunlight farms would power ~11 million households).

  29. An additional $10,000 on a home that costs $524,000 is so insignificant as to be inconsequential. It’s less than 2% of the purchase price. A much more significant expense is the APR for that jumbo mortgage—the total difference between a 30-year jumbo at 4.15% versus 5.5% is an additional $154.092—or more than 15x more than the cost of mandatory home solar.

    • Try a 40 year mortgage. These are the most common mortgages in CA due to the extremely high cost of real estate. At a cost of $10K (it is at least double that number), that increases the mortgage payment by $40 per month on a 40 year note at 4%. That yields a total cost of $20K for the solar panels over 40 years. BUT, the panels are only good for 20 years. The last 20 years will result in zero value for the homeowner, but the $40 per month continues.
      A real cost to install will be $20K or $80 per month. That puts the cost of 20 years of solar energy at $40K, but paid over 40 years with only 20 years benefit. I highly doubt that the solar panels will produce anywhere near $40K in electricity over their useful life.

  30. Methinks someone in the California State Assembly owns stock in a solar cell company and wants to increase demand.

    • Whether someone owns stock in a solar cell company or not, they ALL for sure have some use of the money donated by solar industry to campaign to be elected

  31. Your description of the University of East Anglia’ s department of climatic research as “thwarted schemes” is far too kind a term for the rubbish they have churned out over the years. It will be an interesting thing to see whether posterity will place UEA lower than the BBC in their race to plumb the deepest sewer of misbehaviour and deceit. Truth will out even if it won’t be for some time: the reputation of the people involve in the climate fraud at UEA is going to make alligator urine smell sweet by comparison.

  32. It must be repeated often: irrespective of the other damage to utility equipment and infrastructure that an EMP attack might cause, PV solar cells will be instantly destroyed by the “E” of the pulise. This is due to the inherent physics of the way PV solar cells operate.

  33. ..In the world of government policy, two chief dangers always loom. The first is people with bad intentions using every available means to achieve their malignant goals. The second, more common but no less destructive, is people with the purest of hearts and the most boneheaded of methods…..
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
    C S Lewis – God in the Dock

  34. In the VOX article on the good and bad of the CA solar mandates, under the Good section is the following: “As the Washington Examiner writes, “the change had broad support from home builders, state political leaders, and solar advocates” Also, the CEC was able to make the change without legislative approval. And the costs are concentrated on builders and homeowners rather than the broad public” This sounds like ‘the people’ had no say in the matter and since when are the costs paid by builders (their costs are soon covered by the homeowners). A certain number of people will surely be forced out of the market by this additional cost. Also, the value of exempt homes will go up nicely.

  35. ”equivalent to taking 115,000 fossil fuel cars off the road.”
    Gee, Governor Brown never cared how many vehicles he added to the road by giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens in California. How many solar roofs would be required to offset that?

  36. There are far more rooftop solar lobbyists than there are efficient low-bid utility scale PV lobbyists.

  37. Just need a little advice, my mountain house is situated on the north slope of a steep mountain up in the Sierras. I get very little winter sunshine on the roof and the pitch of the roof is very steep due to winter snow load concerns. Now, if I sell this house I will have o install solar. So, where do I put it? Oh, also thought I should mention that there are some huge Doug Fir trees surrounding the house which block out the light.

    • Does it matter? its all about appearances after all.
      You could install them on a frame structure with the best sun aspect you have.
      So this rule is not just for new stock? solar has to be installed when properties are sold? wow

  38. I live near San Diego. Our County Board of Supervisors is alarmed this week about the increase in the number of homeless camping on the streets throughout the county. The State government’s new law requiring solar power for every new house or new apartment simply drives up the cost of all new housing, including low-income apartments for the poor. The State’s solar policy works directly opposite to efforts to increase the supply of housing in California, which could moderate the existing very high cost for all housing in the area. An oversupply of new apartments could lead to declines in market rental rates in tight housing markets around the state.

  39. Since Scot – decided not to respond – the following comments should help him grasp the errors in the vox and the CBO’s analysis along with the deception by Vox and other advocates
    Item #1 – repealing the IDC deduction – repealing the IDC deduction does not increase the overall all tax paid, it only changes the timing. Vox’s presentation only presents 2 years. Every analysis covering 10+ years shows this differential to be zero or near zero.
    Item #2 – Lifo – several errors in the analysis – A) lifo only works if the price of inventory is on a long term upward increase. Oil and gas prices fluctuate wildly, so it is less widely used in the oil and gas industry. The price of oil and gas dropped precipitacly in 2014. as a result, using lifo had negative income tax consequences. See Chevron’s report for 2017.
    Item #3 – MLPs – this one is humorous – virtually every MLP lost money in the 2015-2016 time frame, yet somehow the CBO computed an 1.5billion tax benefit from the MLP structure.
    Item #4 – percentage depletion – Vox is partly correct on this item, However, The CBO in computing the tax savings showed an increase in tax savings from 2013/2014 (when comparing the prior year estimates) even though % depletion is computed on gross revenue and the price of oil dropped from $90bbl down to the $40bbl range.

  40. I am a climate skeptic and energy realist. But I actually don’t have a problem with requiring solar in new homes, so long as it is required only for more expensive homes. Adding $10,000 to a new $1,000,000 home is probably not going to kill the deal. Installing solar panels or anything else in a new home is cheaper than retrofitting it. In principle there is not much difference between this and requiring fiberglass insulation and double-paned windows in new home construction. One could even add a requirement for geothermal heat pumps (which would probably do more good since A/C is the big electricity user). However requiring Habitat for Humanity to install solar panels is thoughtless. Having said all that, solar will not come into its own until a home can go entirely off-grid and store daytime electricity in batteries for use at night. If and when that happens, I’ll buy. In the meantime Government’s efforts would be better directed toward fundamental research into efficient and cost-effective energy storage rather than telling citizens what to do. In order to solve a problem, first you must identify it correctly.

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