Steal From the Poor, Give to the Rich

That’s what solar power does. American Experiment’s Isaac Orr and Mitch Rolling have an excellent expose of California’s solar power scam: Stealing with solar: How wealthy Californians used solar panels to pick the pockets of low-income families. See original for links:

Affluent households in California siphoned nearly $3.4 billion in 2021 from the pockets of low-income families through a government program called net metering. This program allows people with solar panels to get free electricity while forcing people who can’t afford them to pay all of the costs associated with maintaining the electric grid. What a steal!

Net metering allows customers with rooftop solar installations to sell their electricity back to the grid at the full retail price of power rather than the lower wholesale price that other power providers are paid. This is great if you own solar panels, but it effectively pays rooftop solar owners more than the electricity is worth.

For example, U.S. Energy Information Administration data show the statewide average retail residential electricity rate in California was 25.84 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2022. This means someone with solar panels on their house would be paid the full retail cost of 25.84 cents per kWh.

The problem with this arrangement, however, is that the people with solar panels on their roofs are not paying their fair share to upkeep the rest of the grid, but these substantial costs don’t disappear; they are foisted upon people without solar panels.

This graphic explains the economics of the steal:

Figure 1. Fuel costs a small portion of the total cost of electricity. Homes with solar panels are not paying their fair share of maintaining the infrastructure on the grid, and these costs are forced upon homes that don’t have solar panels.

There is much, much more at the link, including California’s belated recognition that its net metering program was Robin Hood in reverse:

The California PUC couldn’t ignore the ongoing massive wealth transfer from low-income to high-income earners in the state forever.
The major change to net metering happened in December 2022, when PUC commissioners passed an updated NEM 3.0 program that became effective in April 2023. This program was based on net billing as opposed to net metering.

That reform reduced the value of net metering credits by around 75%. It turns out that if solar power isn’t massively subsidized by lower income electricity users, the demand for it drops precipitously:

Wind and solar energy are scams that are kept alive only by government corruption. To the extent you scale back the corruption, they disappear.

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