Mandating all

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The state already has enough solar that during midday, it can drive wholesale energy prices to zero or below. Solar’s effect on energy demand is known as the “duck curve,” which puts a strain on the grid.

As Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Ethan Zindler put it, the mandate “has the potential to make the duck curve duckier.” What’s more, much of that rooftop solar cannot be tracked or controlled by the utility (particular smart inverters are required to link a system to the larger grid), so the net effect could be a shakier grid, at least in the short term. Since all solar produces electricity at the same time (when, y’know, the sun is out), each new unit of solar is competing with, and reducing the marginal value of, all the other units.

Right now only about 15 percent of them are built with solar, so this is a The CEC also boosted standards for insulation, air conditioning, water heaters, and much more. Solar is great; solar panels are cool; California is leading the climate resistance.

It’s all part of California’s mandate for new homes to be “net-zero energy” — to produce as much energy as they consume — by 2020, with all commercial construction to follow by 2030. But among energy nerds, the mandate has caused much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth.

Upfront costs are a particular challenge for middle- and low-income homebuyers, which are being brutalized in the state already.

But California advocates and policymakers do not get to pick and choose policies like they’re shopping at a supermarket. 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.That is the subject of the short but pointed letter that UC Berkeley’s Severin Borenstein sent to CEC Commissioner Robert Weisenmiller, arguing that “residential rooftop solar is a much more expensive way to move towards renewable energy than larger solar and wind installations.” Rooftop solar generates energy anywhere from two to six times the cost of energy from big renewable energy farms. They could be had through regulations mandating more urban density, tougher home and vehicle efficiency standards, an increase in the renewable energy mandate, transmission expansion, or almost anything else, really.3) The mandate will arguably produce no additional emission reductions at all.BNEF’s report includes the solar rooftop retrofit market, but costs are lower for new construction, especially as it scales up.When building solar into new construction, there are no customer acquisition costs and no sales commissions, permitting costs are much lower, financing costs are much lower, there’s already an electrician on site, there are no interconnection applications, etc.

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