Energy

How State Solar Policies Hurt America's Poor

Government-sponsored sweetheart deals for the solar industry are increasing energy costs for low-income Americans.

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environmentblog/Flickr

State renewable-energy policies, such as those encouraging solar use, are creating a kind of "energy inequality", one that benefits wealthier Americans at the expense of the poor. While solar power itself may be a good thing, government-sponsored sweetheart deals for the solar industry—like "net-metering," for example—are increasing energy costs for low-income households across America. 

In seeking to encourage solar usage, 44 states have enacted net-metering policies, which allow customers with solar panels to sell the power they generate back to their electric utility providers. The hope is that net-metering will encourage more customers to use solar panels to reduce their overall utility costs.

It sounds simple—but there is more to these innocuously-named mandates than meets the eye. Those most likely to benefit from net-metering are high-income homeowners able to afford expensive solar panels. Meanwhile, low-income Americans are absorbing the costs.  

That's because net-metering also forces electric utilities to buy power from these lucky solar-customers at the full retail rate, as opposed to the wholesale price. By selling their power back to utilities at the full retail rate, solar-customers are collecting a premium price even though they are not assuming any of the overhead costs reflected in that rate. As a result, these overhead costs are "shifted" onto non-solar customers, who effectively subsidize utility-company payments to solar users.

In California, this cost-shifting has become so widespread that non-solar customers will pay an extra $1.1 billion in shifted costs annually by 2020.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently released a report on the cost-effectiveness of the state's net-metering policy. The report found that not only was there a large income disparity in terms of who benefits but also that net-metering payments were depriving low-income energy assistance programs of millions of dollars in annual funding.

How? The two primary utilities for California, Washington, Oregon, and Utah are Portland General Electric (PGE) and PacifiCorp (PPL). Every customer of PGE and PPL pays a 3 percent charge on their energy bills, referred to as a "Public Purpose Charge," to help fund low-energy assistance programs. Under net-metering, however, solar-customers are exempt from paying that 3 percent charge. CPUC found solar-customers avoided $33 million in public purpose charges in 2012. Those avoided costs are projected to rise to approximately $147 million annually by 2020.

The report also found that 78 percent of solar-customers had higher incomes than the median California household. Specifically, the average household income of solar-customers was $91,210, compared to the a median income of $54,283 for non-solar customers. A similar report this month on Nevada's net-metering policy found  73 percent of solar-customers there have higher median incomes than the statewide average. 

Figures like these exemplify how net-metering policy fosters inequality in the way Americans receive and pay for energy. On average, low-income households spend an estimated 37 percent of their income on household energy bills, a burden that grows when coupled with increasing rates due to cost-shifting. By fostering a system whereby a large portion of low-income Americans are forced to pay more to subsidize the energy use of high-income individuals, regressive net-metering policies are contributing to a widening of America's income gap and a cloudy future for U.S. energy policy. 

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124 responses to “How State Solar Policies Hurt America's Poor

  1. Any policy that increases energy costs disproportionately hurts the poor, and any energy policy that doesn’t make environmentalists totally lose their shit is going to increase energy costs.

    1. Net Metering does not increase costs. this propaganda piece is clearly bought for by the utilities lobby.

      1. Jim Smithy|8.7.14 @ 3:45PM|#
        “Net Metering does not increase costs. this propaganda piece is clearly bought for by the utilities lobby.”

        Man, that’s gonna take some real convolutions to ‘prove’ it doesn’t raise costs!
        Sorta like proving that additional regs really don’t cost money, since the accountants and clerical workers don’t get paid.

        1. try researching things on real sites that understand the solar market, rather than some political propaganda site which has unclear “motivations” on spreading inaccurate information.

          1. Try actually supplying some information other than your unicorn fairy tales.

      2. Did you actually read it? It explains the reasoning — paying people the retail rate for excess generation would be like a store letting people return items that they never bought from the store at retail price (which includes the store’s expenses and profit, and not just the cost of the item itself).

        1. except that is a completely wrong analogy. The correct way to say it is, to have a customer trade the store a product worth 20$ for another product worth 20$. No one is losing money.

          1. You’re being really thick. You don’t realize that Customer A is using someone else store (and overhead) to conduct said transaction and paying nothing for it. You aren’t losing money (which is the limit of your vision) because you’re using someone else’s property.

  2. solar-customers are collecting a premium price even though they are not assuming any of the overhead costs reflected in that rate.

    Buying 30-50k worth of solar panels is not an overhead cost? Also I was under the assumption if you increase the supply of electricity(moar solar panels) the cost should come down, including for poor people without solar panels.

    1. Home solar only feeds into the system under certain conditions. It is a much less useful source than all weather sources like coal, nuclear or hydro.

      1. Where can I sign up for my home reactor?

    2. Solar derived electricity costs way fucking more per watt than any form of mass generation (gas, coal, hydro, whatever). The more solar you add to the mix, the higher the fucking average cost per watt has to be.

      Solar generation has one and only one purpose, providing electricity beyond the reach of the grid.

      1. Right it cost more, paid for by wealthy home owners sold back to the electric company at the price for conventional energy production. In short the wealthy are freeing up conventional electricity by producing dumb electric on their own dime for the feelz. They will never pay back the ROI.

        1. There are a crap load of tax incentives for the owner that someone (everyone else) is paying for. Additionally, the net metering ‘solution’ is really inefficient and expensive to power companies. They’re driven by the Watermelons to ‘buy back’ electricity that is generally unusable and more expensive to them than the juice they’re selling.

        2. Except, wealthy people have the cash to install expensive systems to qualify for federal subsidies so that anyone with a fucking job is actually underwriting the production of dumb electricity so that wealthy people an feel morally superior.

        3. “Right it cost more, paid for by wealthy home owners sold back to the electric company at the price for conventional energy production.”

          Not according to the article:
          “That’s because net-metering also forces electric utilities to buy power from these lucky solar-customers at the full retail rate, as opposed to the wholesale price.”

        4. Sure. But other energy customers are being forced to help them cut their losses.

      2. solar is cost competitive with everything except wind and coal. Nuclear is way more expensive, and that is with massive taxpayer subsidies which dwarf solar subsidies.

        1. Bullshit. Remove the massive subsidies and solar dies. The two most expensive forms of electricity generation even accounting for complete levelized costs are: solar thermal and photovoltaic. And that is according to the EIA for 2017 which includes some carbon pricing.

          http://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Zycher Senate Finance renewables incentives testimony 3-27-12.pdf

    3. Has anyone done this? My house is in a prime location for solar, but the capital cost just didn’t make any sense for the ROI, and I’m sure as hell not ‘leasing’ my roof to someone. Maybe once the panels come down in price by at least 50%.

      1. A relative of mine who works at a car dealership said the owner put solar panels over everything and now he’s selling electricity back to the power company. Between subsidies and deductions and selling back the power, the owner is cashing in.

        1. “owner is cashing in”. Government subsidies, mandated prices and offtake requirements are set up to allow just that.

          He’s cashing in at the expense of utility customers and taxpayers.

      2. I did. after tax credits my 11 kW system cost me around 14k out of pocket. Zero electric bill since. I have received one lump payout from the utility for power generation and several SREC quarterly payouts. When i plug in my EV, i get a free full tank everyday.

        Over the lifetime (25 years) i will see around a 12% return, excluding the free fuel for my EV, so the return is even higher.

        1. Any idea what your return would be excluding tax credits and subsidies?

          1. Make sure your insurance covers you. I have a neighbor who got his windmill fried by lightning to the tune of $7000 in repairs.

          2. i worked the numbers with my financial advisor and in the best case scenario i should see around a 12% return on my investment.

        2. after tax credits

          Everything after these words is meaningless.

          1. as with companies leaving due to taxes I see nothing wrong with this…take what you can. It is the credit itself that is the problem not the person taking advantage of it.

            1. If jimmy wants to take the subsidies, more power to him.

              My point is “the business case” he is gloating about is bullshit.

              This gets coupled to the environmental disaster happening in China which subsidies solar panels so they can be dumped into the US market at a price that allows jimmy to further exploit US subsidies so that he doesn’t have to pay a month electric bill.

              So no, I don’t actually find jimmy’s behavior equivalent to Walgreen re-incorporating offshore. Because the smug prick is just pushing his environmental impact out of sight and out of mind.

              1. (with kinnath)

          2. in case you are new to America, let me say it for you…pretty much everything is tax payer subsidized. Oil, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Coal, Hydro, Food, clothing, computers, internet, etc… Everything.

        3. So you can break even after massive tax subsidies. What a guy. Oh, and even better you are driving on roads for free with your subsidized EV. Aren’t you a precious little snowflake?

          1. No, i earn around a 12% return. Yes, i am driving for free because the tax system does not account for reality. And that is my fault? I never vote for Republicans or Democrats. I am all for a mileage * vehicle class system where the more damage one does to roads, the more one pays. that is the only fair way.

            1. You earn nothing without subsidies. It’s a tax credit farm and you’re a parasite. It’s really that simple.

        4. “Over the lifetime (25 years)”

          Mislead or lying?

          1. I suggest you educate yourself on solar before you comment as you look like a fool commenting.

      3. Depends on the state. Energy cost in Florida are so low a solar system will never break even.

      4. I haven’t but there’s a million of these home rigs in Tucson.

        Dating back to the days of phat tax breaks, mostly.

    4. Also I was under the assumption if you increase the supply of electricity(moar solar panels) the cost should come down, including for poor people without solar panels.

      Um, no. If you increase the total supply with electricity that is more expensive than the existing supply, then the price per unit increases.

      1. wrong. the generation costs of the utility go down, not that the greed utilities would ever lower rates

        1. I work for a multi-billion dollar electric utility. We are not greedy, so knock off that ever so tired talking point.

          1. And forcing the utility to buy energy for what they sell it for, leaves no way to pay any overhead costs in providing energy in the first place. Therefore anyone still forced to rely on the grid (re the ‘poor’) gets stuck with that overhead cost.

          2. We are not greedy,

            I bet you show a profit, so ipso facto you are greedy.

            And racist, if I’m following the most recent talking points.

          3. of course not. How is that monopoly treating you? Real hard to compete when you have no competition.

        2. Jim Smithy|8.7.14 @ 3:43PM|#
          …”the greed utilities would ever lower rates”

          OK, brain-dead lefty tell.
          So, Jim, please define “greed”.
          And then, please tell us why those companies can charge what they do.
          I’ll be waiting.

          1. do utilities turn a profit? yep

            1. And your self -proclaimed 12% taxpayer susidized roi is not greedy? It’s most likely higher than the greedy utility company’s profits.

            2. The industry average profit margin for electric utilities is 6.9 percent.

        3. The capital costs of utility generation, transmission, and distribution are fixed no matter what because people want electricity when the sun isn’t shining.

          Adding the cost of running thermal plant at idle to be ready to pick up load when clouds show up makes the economics worse yet. Include the cost of network upgrades to eliminate grid congestion from unwanted extra power at unpredictable times and the numbers deteriorate further.

          But the utility doesn’t care because it passes the added cost to its ratepayers while patting itself on the back in PR campaigns touting its Green Power.

        4. Wrong. Generation costs go UP because the plant has to be cycled to make up for the fatal flaw in your solar scheme that we like to call night. That reduces the life of the plant and amortizes the depreciation over less generated electricity hence making it more expensive.

          Oh, and I love how it’s not greedy of you to not only use the grid for backup and storage for free, but to get productive taxpayers to subsidize your ecotard dream. As Bubba would say, “That takes a lotta brass!”

          1. So the monopoly utilities ignore customer demand for distributed generation, then blame the changing market place. LOL. You monopoly clowns make me laugh. So sad. Learn to compete and evolve.

            Solar subsidies are change under the couch coushin compared to the trillions the utilities have sucked from the public. Funny how utilities turn massive profits yet need massive taxpayer funding to “modernize” the grid.

            1. They’re not ignoring anything. You are free to go build your unicorn farm on your own dime. What you refuse to accept is that you still need that grid and you aren’t paying for it. Go ahead. You’ve got yer kool solar panelz. Disconnect. You don’t need the grid, right? What’s that, Lassie? Jim’s house went dark and he fell down a well?

              How am I a monopoly clown for pointing out that you are a parasite? I’d love to have my own little reactor and be completely divorced from fools like you, but the technology and the economics just aren’t there yet. Not if I do it honestly, anyway. I could follow your example and freeload on other ratepayers and taxpayers. But even with that solar only makes partial sense in completely government overregulated markets like the People’s Republic of California.

              Solar subsidies per watt produced are the highest of ANY form of energy. There is no dispute about this from the real data. Just ask the EIA.

              I love how you equate profit with greed for the evil korporashuns but not for yourself. Project much? Deregulate the whole thing and let the market find equilibrium. If you live in the middle of nowhere, then your unsubsidized solar farm will be the only game in town. Of course, you’ll have to buy expensive battery storage (or find a dam somewhere) which will drive the price up even more, but hey, you’re an independent guy, right?

        5. How does forcing them to pay above-wholesale prices for electrity lower their generation costs? The solar is part of their generation cost, but they still bear all the other costs associated with transmitting it to whatever customer actually uses it.

      2. But if the electric utility doesn’t pay more than they pay for power from other sources, why would rates go up for poorer people?
        This, of course, ignores the cost of subsidy, but if solar panels become economical enough to make sense without subsidy, it seems like it would be good for everyone.

        I have no illusion that solar can work as a primary source of electric power, but a diverse and distributed power generation system seems like a good thing for a number of reasons.

        1. Ah, they do pay more than they do from other sources.

    5. “net-metering also forces electric utilities to buy power from these lucky solar-customers”

      Trade-offs. The supply of electricity isn’t necessarily being increased.

    6. If they’re on your roof, they’re definitely an overhead cost.

      (points at veal, makes thumbs up)

    7. Please note that solar panels require the use of rare earths which are in short supply.

      China is the leading supplier of rare earths.

      China has turned thousands of square miles of its country side into toxic waste lands mining and refining these rare earths.

      So the environmentalists that are so dearly in love with solar panels and are pushing so hard for federal subsidies are morally responsible for the ongoing rape of the goddess mother earth.

      1. Well, if we would use US mines, this wouldn’t be a problem. Also, many of these are soluble salts. Horizontal drilling and fracking tech ought to be applicable to hugely increase yield while lowering the local environment’s exposure to said toxic salts. (Not sure that helps the refining process.)

      2. No, the only things that are bad for the environment are coal, oil, nuclear power and fracking. Solar panels, wind turbines and batteries are made from unicorn farts and delivered by the stork.

        1. If the worse things proggies said about fracking were true, it would still be trivial compared to what is happening in China now.

    8. That’s not the overheard they’re talking about. They’re talking about the transmission grid and hookups.

      The power plant also has it’s own overhead costs, but they get paid the wholesale rate, of (say) 6 cents per kwh.
      They don’t get a pure pass-along from the customer of 9c per kwh. That would be like using the grid for free.

      Basically the utility is being asked to provide the infrastructure for free to solar customers.

      1. Put another way, the solar customer gets to sell electricity at the same rate that the utility is charging its customers.

        Which means the utility doesn’t make any money on it, despite having to pay to maintain the transmission lines that carry the greedy solar customers power and enable them to make money off of it.

        1. And the greedy power company doesn’t pay the cost of the panels. Also the infrastructure is already in place. The solar owner still buys electric from the grid with a tie in system, they just add power to the grid when they produce more than they consume.

          1. And the greedy power company doesn’t pay the cost of the panels.

            Many of them have programs that provide a rebate for the purchase of solar panels. Much like car dealers.

            1. I know. My power company offers rebates but doing the math I would break EVEN in 40 years. I doubt the system will last that long. The program is a scam, but the article claims those evil rich are spending their cash to reduce their power bill and that is bad because the poor get their 3% percent welfare payment cut. It is a smug generation project, not a real energy solution.

              1. It’s not the power company’s fault that you fell for the solar power bullshit.

                Everyone with half a brain knows that solar panels don’t generally pay for themselves in energy savings.

                However, you are correct about the latter part. The article is stupuidly endorsing leftist logic.

                1. You have no clue what you are talking about, so why comment? My solar is returning 12%. Try beating that.

                  1. Remove the tax credits and what does it return? Account for what you should be paying to maintain the grid and what does it return?

                    Unicorns.

                  2. Greedy bastard. Electric utilities average about 6.9 percent profit but you’ve sucked subsidies from taxpayers and earn an obscene 12% profit. Your greed sickens us.

              2. panels last 15-18 years.

                1. And I’d want to see the power output curves over time and dirt.

                  1. power goes down steadily

                2. maybe really crappy old panels. Today, panels will last 23-28 years easy with minor power losses

          2. There are costs involved in maintaining the grid and capital investments in building, and upgrading it, that have to be paid back.

          3. The greedy power company doesn’t pay the cost of the nuclear plant either. Does that mean the nuclear plant gets ot sell to customers directly at retail?

            Let’s just pretend the utility doesn’t exist at all and make them work for free.

            1. Why shouldn’t the coal plant get paid at the retail rate too? Fair’s fair.

            2. it is funny how people are not complaining about the massive subsidies nuclear plants get..yet the tiny amount of money solar receives is a moral travesty.

              1. First, people do complain about subsidies for nuclear. Second, even with those subsidies, the per watt cost of nuclear blows away solar. And it even works at night!

          4. If you are still a net consumer of electricity and not a producer, it seems like it would already work that way. Wouldn’t your power meter just run backwards if there is current leaving your house? Maybe the new electronic meters don’t work that way.

            1. If it were that easy, why would it take gov’t intervention?

              1. I may be mistaken, but as I understand it the government intervention is only needed for the people who are net producers to get paid the retail rate for their excess production.

                People were producing their own power and feeding it back into the grid before there were solar and wind subsidies. I live in an area with lots of old dams, some of which are used to run electrical generators. I’m not sure what the arrangement was with the electric company, but at least some of them have been getting paid something for the extra power they produce.

                1. You’re assuming electrical power is like money or oil. It isn’t. It can’t be stored in any significant quantity and has to be used at the time of production or dumped as waste heat. The problem is that misnamed renewables tend to generate power completely mismatched to demand. Normally they would get paid very little or even a negative amount for said power. Instead they get the guaranteed retail rate which is well above the wholesale or producer rate.

                2. Zeb|8.7.14 @ 4:36PM|#
                  “I may be mistaken, but as I understand it the government intervention is only needed for the people who are net producers to get paid the retail rate for their excess production.”

                  Which tells you there’s a distortion being forced on one party or the other.

              2. yeah. no idea why Nuclear, Coal, Gas, Hydro, etc… receive several orders of magnitude more taxpayer money than Solar yet, no one complains about them. Guess the Koch friendly website dare not speak about it.

                1. You keep spouting that shit with no cite. The reality is on a per watt basis “renewables” get the most subsidy by far.

                2. BTW, CBO says you’re full of shit.

                  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43032

        2. But those xmission lines would have to be paid for regardless of whether some of their customers were feeding electricity back some of the time, so it’s not like they’re imposing add’l costs for the lines.

      2. Transmission and distribution is usually charged separately from generation, I doubt they’re being paid for that.

    9. $30-50k down? Not these days. There are solar companies that will put solar panels on your house for little or no money down. You buy solar power from them as if they were a utility company, for a substantially lower rate than the conventional utility company. This is where the costs savings are.

      Costs do not go down for those still on conventional power. Conventional utility companies still need to have the same amount of maximum capacity, for when solar panels do not provide electricity- dark days or night. As the plants are not producing electricity constantly from reduced demand on sunny days, there is an idling cost disproportionately shifted onto consumers that use the conventional utility company as their only source. That is, the solar panel users should pay a premium for the idling cost, but they pay a very low rate as they sell back unused electricity, as if electricity is something that can be stored up at the power plant like a battery.

      1. “$30-50k down? Not these days. There are solar companies that will put solar panels on your house for little or no money down.”

        And they do so by harvesting tax credits meant for individuals (see SolarCity). It’s just more government subsidy farming, which is something Musk is extremely good at.

      2. Problem is that they are running an electric utility at that point, albeit one with a very small plant. But still subject to PUC laws, and they are running into problems with that model. If you’re selling electricity, you’re an electric utility.

  3. SOLAR PANELS & NET METERING ENCOURAGED: POOR AND MINORITIES HARDEST HIT

  4. In seeking to encourage solar usage, 44 states have enacted net-metering policies, which allow customers with solar panels to sell the power they generate back to their electric utility providers.

    I’m going to be the asshole that points out not all 44 states allow all customers to sell all the power they generate back at retail. For example, Virginia has net metering but not for municipal utility customers. It’s only for co-ops and investor-owned utils… so it’s probably only mildly regressive.

    1. Yeah, only fuck over the private-sector businesses. The elected officials should have to pay out of pocket for the electricity put into the grid by municipal utility custormers.

  5. There’s nothing wrong with net-metering as long as the prices are free-market.

    People using money to invest in stuff that makes more money is called “capitalism”, Reason.

    The only problem here is the price controls.

    1. And the government subsidies.

      1. Both of these^^

    2. Have you heard of idling costs? Do you know that power plants aren’t batteries?

      1. that is, they aren’t rechargeable batteries that store power

        1. “There’s nothing wrong with net-metering as long as the prices are free-market.

          You missed that part. If it were a free market, then net metering wouldn’t just give you the guaranteed tariff. The price you got for your generation would fluctuate just like it does for legitimate producers.

          1. FWIW

            In an actual market, there is a day-ahead hourly clearing process to balance projected supply/demand, and a real-time five minute clearing process to balance actual supply/demand, and settlement mechanisms make sure generation owners properly and economically match supply and demand. Ancillary services like capacity, regulation, and contingency response are sold, and paid for by load or by generation that isn’t controllable (which imposes such costs). Solar falls into that category, but they’re basically exempted on account of not technically being market participants.

            1. Right, so arguably, solar customers should get paid LESS than the market rate, because the utility has to deal with the hassle of balancing the load in the presence of customers who are randomly injecting power back in in an uncontrolled fashion.

              1. True. But if solar was actually paid like commercial generation (that is, even as a price-taker, using hourly/five minute locational marginal prices), solar owners might actually make much more, even considering ancillary services.

                The most expensive hours happen to coincide with the most solar output, but a home meter doesn’t track when they generate/consume electricity, it just tracks the monthly net.

  6. To cut through all the bullshit:
    If the power companies could buy the power and resell it at a profit, they would do so without any government mandates.
    Since it takes mandates, that is not true, meaning the mandate is increasing the costs of energy.
    Since the cost of energy is a higher proportion of income among the poor, so I thank the poor for subsidizing me and Jimmy up there.

    1. “If the power companies could buy the power and resell it at a profit, they would do so without any government mandates.”

      The fuck does that even mean?

      It’s not crates of shit that people can haggle over, it’s a physical connection. There is no deliberate transaction. If the panel is hooked up, the power company is going to get that electricity whether they pay for it or not, so why in the fuck would they ever willingly pay for it?

      It’s not like the owner can just say “well, if you’re not going to sign a contract that includes net-metering, I’ll just take my business to this other distribution company.” There’s competition at the generation level, but transmission and distribution are always going to be local monopolies.

      Worst case for the power company if they don’t do voluntary net-metering is that the guy doesn’t install solar and they lose some inexpensive electricity, but since that doesn’t kick in until the guy has already generated enough to keep them from making any money from him, it isn’t that much of a worst-case.

      1. I was wondering when somebody was going to point that out.

      2. That means exactly what it says. His point is that if solar were truly cost competitive (and distributed solar at that), then the power company would be going around to everyone’s door and begging them to install panels. The fact that they are forced into a guaranteed retail tariff says this is not the case.

        And I don’t get your point about the physical connection. Are you saying power cannot be transported? Maxwell would like to have a word…

        1. Why? Unless the person is going to be paying for the electricity generated by those panels, it’s probably going to a net loss for the power company even if solar is cost-efficient. And if they are paying for the electricity, net-metering doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  7. Production costs aside, am I mistaken that the retail rate is also paid out for less useful/reliable power?

    Poorer customers pay retail to draw on-demand power but the panel owners only get paid when it’s convenient for them, right?

    If the price I paid for electricity meant I could only turn on the lights when it’s sunny… I’d break out the oil lamps, reinstall the coal furnace, hook the generator up to the exercise bike and get to work on the backyard nuclear reactor plans.

    1. Right. The meter running “backwards” to create the “net-metering” is at low-demand times. If the pricing model is simply net kilowatt-hours (the meter cannot determine time of the day for peak-time rates), the solar customer looks as if they are using far less energy at peak time than they are, as the pricing model assumed a traditional distribution of usage throughout the day. The solar customer is no longer properly sharing the cost burden of the max-capacity of the power company.

      If pricing models are based on when the power is used rather than how much, the utility companies can perform the cost-accounting calculations and distribute the costs to customers more fairly in terms of what it costs them.

      After that you are left with the government subsidy reduced from reduced utility bills. Like reduced gas tax from reduced oil consumption. Ah, the government.

      1. Right, it’s like the solar customer pays 9c per kwh at peak demand times, and then get’s paid 9c per kwh when he injects power back in at low demand times.

        This is analagous to me demanding that I be able to buy pumpkins at $5/lb in October, and then sell them back ot the store at $5/lb in January.

      2. Except that in the states most affected by solar, the production is typically at PEAK hours. In Florida, a major component of electrical costs is air conditioning. AC is most needed during the heat of the day. Why? That’s when the most sunlight is received. But wait, solar cells produce the most energy at this time of day.

        Looks like solar aligns pretty well with peak demand in the sunniest states.

      3. Sorry, but the sun is out during the high demand times. I don’t know where you’re getting the “low-demand times” from.

    2. How do you figure? They’re mostly generating during peak hours, and consuming during off-peak, but the meter doesn’t care. Lighting to offset lack of sunlight is not exactly the main driver of load.

      If anything, that’s a disadvantage for solar panel owners. Given the substantial difference between on-peak and off-peak prices (off-peak prices can go negative), it could easily wipe out the benefits they get from being paid the retail rate.

  8. So, if I’m following the story is:

    “Sun Shines, Poor Hardest Hit”

    Correct?

    1. “Correct?”

      Nope:
      “Feel-good Gov’t Program Benefits Wealthy”

      1. But everybody on earth benefits from the reduced carbon emissions, right?

  9. The two primary utilities for California, Washington, Oregon, and Utah are Portland General Electric (PGE) and PacifiCorp (PPL). Every customer of PGE and PPL pays a 3 percent charge on their energy bills, referred to as a “Public Purpose Charge,” to help fund low-energy assistance programs.

    So net metering is undermining socialism?

    Good!

    1. Exactly! The article makes this sound like a net-determent.

  10. Isn’t this a Libertarian website? Who gives a shit about the “income gap” being widened by a lack of welfare funding? Perhaps you could make an argument about the net metering policy contributing to higher costs for non participants, but seriously, so what if the government welfare program is losing money on this deal.

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