Lucas Davis, professor at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote an article in which you claim that if your neighbor installs solar panels it will cost you $ 65 per year on your electric bill, but your calculations are wrong. Rather than costing you more, these signs are likely to save Davis money. Solar panels aren’t just good for people who have them, they’re good for everyone.

So how did Davis go wrong with his math? First, Davis forgot to factor in the savings he realizes when rooftop solar panels reduce the need to build new transmission and distribution infrastructure. While Davis is correct that utilities have certain fixed costs that we all pay, he forgets that in the long run these costs are not really “fixed”. Their need ultimately depends on the demand for electricity, and your neighbor’s solar panels can reduce that need.

In fact, just two days before the publication of its analysis by Davis, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) approved a plan to cancel previously approved transportation projects worth $ 2.6 billion, which, According to CAISO, was the result of changes in electricity use “heavily influenced by energy efficiency programs and increasing levels of solar production on residential rooftops.” This is in addition to the $ 192 million saved in projects not completed in 2016. While additional investment in transportation will surely be needed to help California meet its clean energy goals, CAISO’s revised plan shows that rooftop solar systems, like the one owned by the Davis’ neighbor, helping customers save billions of dollars.

Rooftop solar power, including solar power for businesses, government buildings, and schools, can save utilities and consumers money on other distribution infrastructure costs.

For example, expensive utility transformers can be overloaded on hot summer days when people use more energy to cool their homes. Solar rooftop power can reduce system pressure these days, extending the life of utility equipment and saving everyone.

So if Mr Davis is looking for someone to blame for his soaring utility bills, he could start by looking in the direction of his electric company, which is pushing for new infrastructure to be approved, even if it isn’t. it is shown that this is not the case. necessary.

For example, Southern California Edison recently sought approval for more than $ 2 billion worth of waste in its distribution system, in which it would earn an attractive rate of return, but which taxpayer advocates say would increase tariffs for everybody. Mr. Davis must see his neighbor as an ally in the fight against these costs, not as an enemy.

Additionally, Davis ignores the widely recognized benefits of rooftop solar power, including the avoided costs of blanketing volatile fossil fuels like natural gas, avoided electricity losses from power plants far from cities, and avoid the need to build new and expensive. natural gas plants.

Finally, Mr. Davis’ logic on avoided energy costs is wrong. Part of the reason wholesale electricity generation costs just $ 0.04 per kilowatt hour is because solar and other renewables are reducing the state’s reliance on “bigger” generating plants. costly that would drive up prices if they were to work. Saying solar power is not worth much because electricity is cheap is like saying your alarm system is worthless because no one is trying to enter your house anymore.

Instead of arguing with your neighbor, Mr. Davis should offer you a cold beer, cooled with energy increasingly coming from clean sources, like your neighbor’s solar panels.

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