Solar rooftop war threatens California’s climate goals

Some energy experts say utility companies will not be able to produce or buy enough renewable energy to replace what is lost due to the decline in rooftop solar panels that provide 9% of the state’s electricity by 2020, more than nuclear and coal combined. Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of residential and environmental energy at Stanford, said California would need to dedicate about a quarter of its land to renewable energy to meet climate goals without expanding energy. sun on the roof. As a result, utilities will have to switch to natural gas and other fossil fuels.

“The only thing this will do is reduce the solar energy on the roof,” says Professor Jacobson. “That means there will be more natural gas in the system. Every roof should have solar on it. You should encourage it more. “

People who install solar panels on their roofs or properties are still connected to the grid, but they get credit on their bills for the energy they produce in excess of what they use. California’s proposal would cut the value of those credits, roughly the same as retail electricity prices, by about 87%. Additionally, the measure will impose a new monthly fee on solar homeowners — about $56 for a typical rooftop system.

According to the California Solar and Storage Association, the monthly cost of solar and electricity for the average rooftop homeowner served by PG&E, the state’s largest utility company, will be increased to $215, from $133.

An aggressive campaign is underway to shake up the regulators. On one side are rooftop solar companies, homeowners and activists and utility companies and on the other, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which is lobbying Governor Gavin Newsom to intervene. Although the committee is independent of Mr. Newsom, he wields enormous influence. The governor recently told reporters that regulators should change their proposal but did not specify how.

The electrical workers’ union, which did not respond to a request for comment, is playing a central role. It represents subcontractors, electricians, and other utility workers, who generally earn more than those who are primarily non- roofers. Many union members, a key constituency for the Democratic Party, fear of being left behind in the transition to green energy.

Other states are also targeting rooftop solar. Florida is considering legislation to reimburse homeowners for the excess energy their panels generate, a benefit known as net energy metering. Solar rooftop war threatens California’s climate goals

Fry Electronics Team

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