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California’s solar mandate

means more reliable grid

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In response to your editorial, “If solar energy’s so great, why is California forcing it on new homeowners?”: I take exception to many assertions you make that might have been true in 1995 but are not true in 2017.

State law requires that at least 50 percent of California’s electricity come from noncarbon-producing sources by 2030. The mandate, approved unanimously by the California Regulatory Commission, will take effect two years from now.

A 2014 McKinsey study says: “These cost reductions will put solar within striking distance, in economic terms, of new construction for traditional power-generation technologies, such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy. That’s true not just for residential and commercial segments, where it is already cost competitive in many (though not all) geographies, but also, eventually, for industrial and wholesale markets.”

Since 2014, renewable energy, primarily solar and wind, was 50 percent or more of all newly built U.S. electrical generation, so it is at cost parity. While most of our electricity is used midday, obviously the sun does not shine fully every day, nor at night — but California has a 1.3 gigawatt mandate for electrical energy storage which has been followed by several other states such as Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York.

Contrary to your editorial, the monthly costs of power generation as added to the monthly mortgage costs will be less than the monthly electric costs from the electric utility. Electric rate increases will be reduced because utility companies will not have to finance new electric generation. It makes economic and environmental sense and will ensure that the California grid is more resilient and reliable.

Adjunct Professor Scott Sklar,

Energy Director,Environment & Energy Management Institute,

The George Washington University.


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