Musk slams California’s plan to penalize solar panels owners

Elon Musk slams at California’s plan for homeowners who use solar panels in their homes. Where the state’s proposal calls for a discounted rate for excess power sold into the grid. It also includes a monthly utility charge of $8 per kW which will be used for the cost of maintaining the state’s power infrastructure.

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The announcement was first posted on Monday by the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC). It is being met with a lot of criticism, especially from the residential solar industry. The criticism comes as the ones who opposed the proposal warned that the initiative could contradict California’s efforts to address climate change. However, the PUC argued, saying that the plan could encourage the solar industry to accelerate the rollout of battery storage systems.

The PUC noted that with battery storage systems the excess power generated by solar panels could be held in reserve by the homeowners themselves. So the solar won’t be sold back to the grid. Additionally, the PUC argued that the current system essentially means a multi-billion subsidy for wealthy homeowners. While the other utility ratepayers paying regular prices remain the same.

Once the plan is fully approved, homeowners with solar systems would have their homes to be moved to the new structure. Then their systems have been connected for 15 years. Also, homeowners with solar systems will be offered an incentive to pair a battery storage unit for their houses as per the plan. So, the owners who accept this offer would be shifted into the new structure soon.

Reviewing the policy

According to the PUC, a review of its policy reveals its current systems are not being cost-effective. As the homeowners without solar panels are shouldered with the price of maintaining the grid. Unfortunately, it is known that most ratepayers were from lower-income households. So considering that ratepayers from the state spent about $3 billion a year to support net metering, PUC Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves stated that the funds were better off being invested elsewhere. She said, “If you use that money to purchase the large-scale clean energy projects, we would be able to meet our 2045 goals.”

One of the most notable solar trade groups in the US, the Solar Energy Industries Association has also heavily criticized California’s announcement. The group stated that if the proposal were to go through it would “create the highest solar tax in the country and tarnish the state’s clean energy legacy.” Next month or so, a vote on the proposal. It is most likely that the proposed policy changes would take effect after a final decision by majority votes.