Wind/solar advocates point to continued cost reductions due to technological learning.
Wind/solar opponents point to continued value declines due to intermittency.
It tuns out that these two effects cancel out fairly evenly.
Wind and solar will thus remain as subsidy-dependent as they are today.
There can be no doubt that wind and solar power will be important players in the energy system of the future. Over the past decade or so, these sources have grown almost as fast as nuclear power did in the seventies (see below). Since 2010, wind and solar have achieved an almost perfectly linear expansion of about 5.5% of global electricity production per decade (2.3% of global primary energy per decade).
Although wind and solar are settled as important energy players, the magnitude of their contribution to the future energy system is a topic of vigorous debate. The advocate camp points to the continued cost declines of these technologies, often claiming that wind/solar power will soon achieve competitiveness without subsidies, spelling the end of conventional power sources. The following graphs from IRENA for wind and solar illustrate this argument.
Over 32,000 homeowners in the Southern California Edison territory have gone solar this year, and the vast majority are likely unaware of the financial impact they will experience due to Southern California Edison’s newly altered solar rates. A typical homeowner may lose thousands of dollars in savings over the lifetime of their solar power system if it is not designed to factor in the new solar rules and rates.
Under former solar rules, it was simple for solar companies to design a solar power system that resulted in a $0 bill for electric energy. A solar company looked at how much energy a household used on an annual basis and designed a solar power system to produce that same amount of energy per year, regardless of when the system produced energy or when the home consumed energy.
Since July 1, 2017, solar customers in the Southern California Edison (Edison) territory have been on new solar rules, which have forced all solar customers onto “time-of-use rates.” An in-depth analysis is now needed to design a solar power system because with time-of-use rates, Edison charges more for the electricity depending on when a home uses energy in a day, not just how much the home uses in a given month.
This is an excerpt from a press release posted on Imperial Valley News:
CA Parks/Salton Sea
With the success of SB 5 – Park Bond voters across our state will soon have
the opportunity to invest $4 billion for parks, recreation and safe drinking water with 20% of the bonds funding designated for disadvantaged
communities. This measure additionally allocates $200 million dollars to fund the 10-Year Salton Sea Management Plan, $10 million for the New River parkway and specifically prioritizes funding for Imperial County State Fairground improvements.
“By bringing human health impacts to the forefront of these conversations we have been able to garner greater state support and resources toward Salton Sea mitigation.”
Climate Change/Air Quality
“The passage of AB 398 – Cap-and-Trade Reform and AB 617 – Air Quality established a comprehensive, statewide program that will allow us to achieve our ambitious climate goals, while ensuring the market stability necessary to retain industry jobs and address vital public health and air quality issues. Importantly, these measures will help further climate equity in disadvantaged areas and directs the Air Resources Board to help region air districts to identify communities in need of air quality monitors; often low income communities of color that historically have been disproportionately impacted by pollution. The community plans developed will be essential to mitigating problems and improving air quality for our families”
“We will continue to fight for our region to receive its fair share of climate investment funds.”
You can read the entire list of accomplishments by clicking here.
Should Utahns who don’t want or cannot afford to install solar panels on their home be forced to pay for those who can? That’s the crux of the current net-metering debate in our state.
Net metering allows solar customers to sell excess electricity generated by their rooftop panels back to the utility companies.
A study last year found that solar customers, who rely on and use the electrical grid as much as traditional customers, are not paying their fair share for its use.
What’s more, under the current net-metering arrangement, Rocky Mountain Power, Utah’s electric utility company, pays three times more for energy generated by residential solar panels than it pays for energy generated by commercial solar farms.
As a result, solar customers essentially receive a $400 subsidy every year, which amounts to a $6.5 million cost to the utility company. If things don’t change, as more people install solar panels on their homes, that number could skyrocket to $78 million.
This is bad news for non-solar customers who will foot the bill when Rocky Mountain Power increases prices to cover these losses.
The situation is particularly urgent for low-income households that spend an ever-growing portion of their income on electricity and suffer greatly from higher energy prices. For the 198,000 Utah households that earn less than $30,000, 18 percent of their monthly budget is already swallowed up by energy costs.
What’s worse, a rate increase doesn’t just mean higher utility bills, it also means higher costs for everything else. Local grocery stores forced to pay higher energy rates to light their stores and refrigerate food will likely pass on that cost in the form of higher prices. For families struggling to make ends meet from one month to the next, increased electricity costs could be catastrophic.
And when you consider that more than 60 percent of the state’s 22,000 rooftop solar owners earn more than $100,000 per year, it’s easy to see that the current rate structure is a patently unfair transfer of wealth from less fortunate consumers who can’t afford solar panels to the more well-off Utahns who can.
To level the playing field for all Utahns and protect the more vulnerable in our community, Rocky Mountain Power submitted a request to the Utah Public Service Commission to create a fairer rate structure.
Of course, solar companies that care only about protecting their customers’ lucrative subsidy are attempting to block the correction.
They argue that many customers who choose solar to save money on their electric bills will be disinclined to do so if the new prices requested by Rocky Mountain Power go into effect. And they disingenuously claim that fixing the rate disparity is meant to stifle competition and will kill jobs and harm a “thriving” industry.
But they fail to recognize that cheaper energy prices make Utah a desirable locale for businesses. Utah enjoys some of the lowest energy prices in the country, close to 20 percent lower than the national average. A potential rate increase to cover the ballooning costs of net metering could jeopardize our state’s ability to attract and retain businesses and jobs across all industries.
Moreover, if the solar industry is propped up with forced subsidies from people who cannot afford the product or simply don’t want it, is it really thriving?
The Utah Public Service Commission must eliminate the unfair subsidy for rooftop solar users. For their part, instead of relying on an artificial boost, rooftop solar companies should strive to make products and services that are truly affordable.
Evelyn Everton is the Utah state director of Americans for Prosperity.
Original article can be found here: http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2017/08/27/commentary-should-you-be-forced-to-subsidize-your-neighbors-solar-panels/