California's solar overload

Hasn’t Hawaii been through this. So much solar the utility cannot accept new solar connections. So people install batteries and disconnect from the grid. And utility mostly serves business and industry.


I know you can still do new rooftop solar on Maui.

California’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has allowed PG&E to institute a plan to eliminate future residential solar production. The California PUC is basically run by ret. executives from PG&E. The latest approval for residential solar production ends the possibility to break even on solar panel instillation.
The Net Metering 3.0 proposal that was put into effect April 2023; under the current NEM 3.0 jurisdiction residential solar production isn’t equally credited to the charge for grid production. Furthermore, under NEM 3.0 PG&E was allowed to raise the charge for 1k/watt/h to $.30 from $.18.
So, for example, under the current NEM 3.0, during the day when your residential system produces sufficient electricity to run your home, and a surplus about that goes back into the grid, PG&E pays you $.06 / 1k/watt/h. After the residential system stops producing electricity at night when the home draws electricity off the grid, PG&E charges you $.30 / 1k/watt/h. Plus, PG&E charges you $10/month for your net metering as a surcharge, and PG&E wanted to increase that to $70/month. That proposal has been put off for future PUC planning, but you can be sure that the net metering surcharge will increase in the coming months.

Currently, any solar system that submitted a NEM interconnection application by April 14, 2023 will continue to operate under NEM 2.0, or equal k/watt/h production for k/watt/h usage off the grid. There is a large backlog of systems being installed under these year old NEM 2.0 interconnection applications. Already, over 17,000 solar jobs have declined as the industry lays off employees and closes down operations and prepares for the end of solar installations in California and currently survive installing NEM interconnection application submitted before. April 14, 2023

As a political aside, Gavin Newsom signed this NEM 3.0 bill into law, and has always taken up the gavel for PG&E and SDG&E.


Meanwhile, a new study shows how solar helps low income families the most

Low-income residents in the U.S. West who have installed solar power experience the greatest benefit with the proportion of estimated household income spent on energy falling from 7.3% to as much as 5.7%, saving an estimated $821 a year.

Reminder: one of the NEM 3.0 purposes was that it was to minimize the rich taking advantage the system …seems like a program to help low income install solar is a better idea



Ahhhh…this is exactly the argument that PG&E made before the PUC. Buy that and I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Rich??? You mean households that can affor a $30,000 loan over 3 years along with a 40% tax break?? Households that have an income of > 80,000 a year are rich??? Because that is the vast majority of households that have invested in solar…
Hey if this was all about helping people totally dependent on the grid, why did they raise K-watt/h from $.18 to $.30?
Solar residential units with batteries only pay this for about 6hours a day in the summer. Low-income who can’t afford solar pay it all day when they’re air-conditioning is peaking out at 4pm.
Trust PG&E, their CEO who just got 40% raise to $39mil a year really cares.

That is the total cost per kWH. How much of that went to spending on the grid? The grid has gone unrenovated for decades. That is a must-do job.

This is like the 2010 October surprise in CT. Some folks were without any power for two weeks in a cold snap. The trees all came down in the lines. Why? Because to save money the Utilities did not up their rates. The utility commission let pruning back the trees fester for years.

After the storm, there was a huge rate increase to afford cutting branches and trees off the power lines.

Now CA needs a lot of grid work. It has to come from somewhere.

The poor do need help.

Middle-class uptake of solar has been huge in CA. Focusing on the poorer working-class families would help the economy in CA more. And it is fair. How many $80k income houses have cushy jobs? How many median-income homes do not have cushy jobs? People shyte on the working poor as if their needs come last. That is a line of BS in our society. The poor can come first.

With the minimum wage in CA being higher than the national average, the poor are not that poor. They can afford solar with decent subsidies. It pays for itself with some planning.

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From the original post:
“The state is, at times, generating more solar energy than it can handle. It’s to the point where loads of clean energy are going to waste.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

With all of that solar power, you might think that California’s CO2 emissions from the electric power sector have greatly diminished. That would be an incorrect assumption.

In-state power generation from natural gas is nearly unchanged since 2016. Plus, California still imports power from neighboring states, and some of that power comes from coal-fired power plants.

Below are the California in-state electricity generation numbers for natural gas, wind and solar, for each year listed. The Solar column is the combined large, utility-scale solar PV and solar thermal power plants, plus the estimated generation from smaller rooftop installations. These numbers come from the EIA monthly electricity report (February data, which shows the December year-to-date for the previous two years. I used the most accurate numbers available in this source.)

California generation, gigawatt-hours
Year     Nat Gas    Wind     Solar
2014     120,426   12,992   13,793
2015     116,140   12,230   20,829
2016      97,074   13,509   27,037
2017      88,350   12,823   34,958
2018      89,604   14,024   39,904    
2019      85,841   13,735   43,493
2020      92,047   13,583   47,680
2021      97,427   15,177   54,712
2022      96,372   14,638   62,910
2023      94,292   14,897   68,816

= The decrease in Nat Gas from 2015 to 2016 was largely due to increased generation from hydro resources. Hydro for 2014 and 2015 was unusually low, and then increased in 2016.
= Wind power has not changed much since 2018 or so.
= Solar power has seen the largest, consistent, increases. However, as noted above, this hasn’t caused natural gas to decline much. All of the growth in solar since 2015 has been with solar PV. Solar Thermal is not growing at all, and has actually declined about 20% since 2018.

The increasing dependence on intermittent renewables like wind and solar merely locks the state into future dependence on fossil fuels. This is illustrated in the table above. Solar power has greatly increased, but that hasn’t had much of an effect on natural gas and the CO2 emissions associated with burning that gas.

Sooner or later, people might come to understand what dispatchable power is, and why it is so important. In the mean time, I’m sure the state will continue to build more and more solar, continue to curtail some of that solar, and of course will continue to burn natural gas in order to keep the grid working. Good luck getting to net zero with that plan.

Lastly, with the California EV-only mandate coming in a few years, that will likely cause increased demand on the power grid. That means natural gas will be needed to run the power plants to charge up those EVs at night, when the sun isn’t shining.

  • Pete