California solar mandate to make housing and electricity even more expensive

State and local governments in California have made housing there far more expensive than it needs to be.  Developers rightly complain of regulations at both state and local levels that make housing construction unreasonably difficult and expensive.  California's cities are filling up with homeless people living on the streets or in encampments whose nonexistent sanitary facilities and rampant drug abuse make them public health dangers.

As of last week, a new and burdensome regulation has made constructing a new housing unit even more expensive, by at least $10,000, the lowball estimate of the bureaucrats administering the new regulation, or up to $30,000, the estimate of a mortgage lender.  Natasha Bach enthuses in Fortune:

California has taken the final step to be the first state in the nation to require solar panels on new homes.

The California Building Standards Commission on Wednesday unanimously upheld a May 9 decision to require solar panels on homes up to three stories. The requirement goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Currently, just 9% of single-family detached homes in California have solar panels.  But as the state pushes toward decreasing greenhouse gas emissions – and with a 2045 goal to transition to a fully renewable energy grid devoid of fossil fuels – this rule will help accelerate that progress.  Aside from energy efficiency, solar panels reduce ozone-damaging household emissions, most of which come from natural gas-generated electricity.

Advocates claim that energy savings would more than pay for the extra cost of the panels, yet they are unwilling to allow private homeowners to make those calculations themselves.  Norman Rogers has demonstrated on these pages that the cost calculations are skewed:

A large-scale natural gas-generating plant can supply electricity for around 6 cents per kilowatt-hour.  Rooftop solar electricity costs, without subsidies, around 30 cents per kilowatt-hour, or five times as much.  Average retail rates for electricity in most places are between 8 cents and 16 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The difference is made up with subsidies and higher utility rates for other rate-payers without solar panels.  Even worse, reliance on unreliable wind and solar energy requires backup conventional (most natural gas) power generators, actually increasing the costs and rate base of utilities, and therefore prices for consumers and profits for the utilities.  It is the "perfect scam."

Wind and solar don't reduce the demand for fossil fuel plants because wind and solar have to be backed up by traditional plants.  A campaign against coal, by the Sierra Club, has resulted in the closing of many coal plants.  The closed plants are typically replaced by new natural gas plants.  Due to the strain imposed on the electric grid by erratic wind and solar there are many commercial opportunities for upgrading the traditional components of the electricity grid.  Rather than hurting the manufacturers of fossil fuel generating equipment, the green energy movement actually helps them.

The green energy scam is the perfect scam because the beneficiaries include many influential individuals and institutions, while the victims are dispersed among large numbers of unorganized people. 

So, as a result of this feckless solar energy mandate, housing prices and utility costs will rise for Californians.  This will encourage progressives to demand even more subsidies and more regulations.  This will ensure that the middle class continues to flee the state.

Photo credit: Tiaa Monto.