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  • Writer's pictureWayne Drury

Is Chasing Climate Change Tearing us Apart?

California puts the boots to new solar installations due to "unfair costs" and the need for batteries.

The California Utilities Commission (CUC) has approved a new standard for the installation of roof-top solar panels, slashing the price the electrical utilities must pay for the purchase of electricity sent to the grid, from $0.30/kWh to $0.08/kWh, and requiring new installs to include storage capacity. In addition, any new install must have a battery array for a storage solution.

The price issues is a result of what is seen as unfairness in the pricing system where customers without solar installations are heavily subsidizing the cost of electricity from those with solar panels.

Batteries are now required to provide storage and backup, something that some suggest makes solar much less accessible and affordable. Evening out electrical flows to assist with base loading is a priority for almost every jurisdiction. But, the argument does not seem to be that batteries are a bad idea; it comes down to making an installation uneconomic.

And Let the Battle Begin

“Not more than 10 minutes” after the announcement by the CUC, the California Solar + Storage Association was out the gate with a 6-point argument that all analysis the CUC had relied on was wrong, that the world was going to come to an end, and they basically want a deferral for 8 years. Eight years? Will that solve the problem or only delay the arguments to surface again?

Quite something that “we” cannot even agree on the facts. How are we supposed to be able to make decisions that are good for the people, the planet and sustainability when all we do is fight?

The decision by the CUC will have far-reaching consequence. Like any issue relating to climate change and global warming, we need the truth and consequence. To keep this simple, I have a few questions:

  1. If the quantity of roof-top solar is reduced, what will be the impact of changing land use to accommodate new solar farms?

  2. If the quantity of roof-top solar is reduced, what will be the impact on CO2 emissions into the atmosphere?

  3. What is the cost differential between bringing solar generated electricity from afar - assuming that grids will need to be upgraded, compared to collection of electricity from rooftop installations?

  4. What is the difference in pricing between what the electricity from rooftop solar is being purchased at, and what it is sold at?

  5. What is the cost of electricity to a non-solar home, and what is the cost?

The Ending

There we have it; the argument is not about the doing the world a world of good; it is an argument about “who pays” and “how much?”

People demand “cheap” power and we have had it pretty good for the past 100 years. Like fossil fuels, electricity, in my view is “cheap.” We complain when gas prices go up, but look at what is required to get that gas to the pump and I argue the price is cheap. But I digress.

Most of us are concerned what we are going to do about climate change and global warming - the elephant in the room is who is going to pay for it? I hope we can do a job at resolving these issues with some truth and consequence.

This is brought to you by Sustainable Circular Economy, a boutique firm in Vancouver that works with businesses and First Nation communities, to assist them through the morass of decision-making principled on the foundation of a circular economy, reuse, repurpose and recycle, to arrive at solutions that are good for the people, the planet and sustainability. Our goal is to do the world a world of good in everything we do

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