Stop CA's Unfair Solar Tax on Low-Income Housing

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Stop CA's Unfair Solar Tax on Low-Income Housing

Sacramento, CA

The Problem

Requiring solar panels on all new housing is a highly inefficient way to expand solar energy. University of California, Berkeley economist Severin Borenstein told the commission that he and the vast majority of energy economists "believe that residential rooftop solar is a much more expensive way to move towards renewable energy than larger solar and wind installations."

No kidding. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory figures that on a kilowatt-hour basis, electricity from home solar panels costs 2 1/2 times more than electricity from large solar facilities operated by utilities.

The California approach brings to mind Mao Zedong's call in the 1950s for Chinese peasants to build steel furnaces in their backyards. Many vital tasks are done best on a huge scale, and generating electricity is one of them.

Another drawback is that it will aggravate the state's most notorious problem—astronomical housing costs. The median home price is now $524,000, in large part because of regulations that make every attem

Suggested Solutions

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David Bookbinder (Niskanen Center)
Posted suggestion on May 14th, 2018
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The big problem in California is transportation emissions. Last year, the California Air Resources Board noted that in 2015, emissions from producing electricity fell by more than 5 percent. But those from vehicles rose by 3 percent. Focusing on home solar power is akin to attacking obesity by putting marathon runners on a diet.

Steve Chapman (Reason)
Posted suggestion on May 14th, 2018
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A steep gasoline tax would be the simplest way to get motorists to drive less and buy cars that burn less gasoline—or electric vehicles. The current excise taxes on gas amount to just 58 cents a gallon, which is not enough to take many gas guzzlers off the road. If anything, the solar mandate will stimulate more driving as higher home prices induce Californians to move farther from their jobs and endure longer commutes.

Environmentalists in California and beyond have good cause to fear and resist the powerful enemies now in charge of federal policy. But they should also guard against the folly of their friends.

Endorsers

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Official Replies

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Jerry Brown, Governor
Replied on May 14, 2018

We don't want to do nothing and just sit there and let the climate get worse.

Scott Pruitt, Administrator
Replied on May 14, 2018
Solar panels and other requirements will cut a typical new home's energy consumption by 53 percent— equivalent to taking 115,000 fossil fuel cars off the road.
Andrew McAllister, Commissioner
Replied on May 14, 2018

The case for this was extremely strong. (In) California, we do believe in climate change, we do believe in facts … It’s become clear to all of us it’s the right thing to do and that the marketplace is ready.

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