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California Rooftop Solar Mandate: An example of bad groupthink?

California Rooftop Solar Mandate: An example of bad groupthink?

In recent news, California legislators have done a gimmick-trick that has earned the state loud applause from the environmentally-minded consumers and activists: California Energy Commission (CEC) recently voted 5-0 to add a new provision to the state’s building code. This includes a requirement that from 2020, all new house and multi-family residences construction of three stories or fewer, along with all major renovations, must be built with rooftop solar panels. Given that the state currently builds ca 113,000 housing units a year, and rising, this should increase significantly already existent solar generation capacity from 15% of the housing stock, currently.
Solar being mandated on virtually all new houses? Sounds like a renewables nirvana, especially given the fact that the state has huge solar generation potential due to its climate. But, as commonly is the case, there is a catch. Or two… or many more… And this means that California’s latest policy mandate may be a poor example to follow, and potentially, a bad policy mistake.

Here are the key reasons.

Rooftop solar is about as effective in reducing emissions as waving a broom into the smog. UC Berkeley’s Severin Borenstein argued this in his note to CEC Commissioner (http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/borenste/cecweisenmiller180509.pdf). Note: Borenstein also alleges that CEC has failed to involve experts in energy economics in its decision making process – something that is not a good policy formation practice.

UC Davis economics professor James Bushnell accused CEC of “regulatory groupthink.” (https://energyathaas.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/how-should-we-use-our-roofs/) and offered an alternative to roof solar that can generate far greater environmental benefits. There are, of course, other, more efficient ways for deriding emissions, including: mandating more urban density, raising home and cars efficiency standards, expanding the renewable energy mandate, improving grid efficiencies and transmission expansion, and so on. Once again, CEC did not allow for any independent assessment of the proposed plans economic and environmental impacts.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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