Tag Archives: Energy Efficiency

Should all houses in SLO switch to electric appliances? These experts think so

By Nick Wilson, The San Luis Obispo Tribune

What would it be like to live in a home that uses all electric appliances?

A panel of experts who spoke Thursday at an event hosted by the SLO Climate Coalition at the SLO library touched on questions around cost, safety and the ability of the grid to handle a transition from gas to electrically-powered homes.

The discussion comes in advance of a planned SLO City Council meeting Sept. 3 when a new policy around energy requirements for constructing new homes will be considered. The proposed changes to building codes would incentivize electrification by allowing construction with all-electric appliances to meet minimum state standards.

If the new policy is approved, those who choose to construct gas-powered systems would have to retrofit existing buildings to electric appliance systems or pay an in-lieu fee that will be used for the same purpose, according to city officials.

A panel of four state building and energy experts said they believe a transition to electrification is inevitable given California’s target of carbon neutrality in 2045. It makes good sense, they said, to start planning for a future in which communities will be faced with finding ways to reduce as much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as possible — a significant portion of those emissions now coming from use of gas appliances in homes.

Read full article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune

Solar is coming to all new California homes. How many in Fresno already get power from sun?

By Tim Sheehan, The Fresno Bee

More than 1 million California homes are already soaking up sunshine with solar panels to generate electricity. Next year, that number will surge as new building standards take effect requiring all new homes permitted after Jan. 1 to have solar photovoltaic systems.

In Fresno, which already has the third-highest number of homes in California with rooftop solar panels, the number continues to grow even before the new California Energy Commission standards take full effect. Through the first six months of 2019, the city issued permits for more than 1,640 residential solar systems as additions or alterations to existing homes. That doesn’t count solar panels that home builders or developers are already offering as a feature on new homes.

As of June 30, more than 23,300 Fresno homes had solar systems in operation under the state’s Net Energy Metering (NEM) program. That’s third behind only San Diego and Bakersfield among California cities, according to data from Go Solar California. The total electrical output capacity of Fresno’s residential solar panel systems amounted to almost 148,700 kilowatts of direct current (DC) power. That’s about 144,000 kilowatts of alternating current or AC electricity after it’s converted from DC.

Fresno also has another 1,742 homes with solar installed from 2007 through 2017 under the older California Solar Initiative program.

Read full article in the Fresno Bee

Opinion: The Phony Numbers Behind California’s Solar Mandate

By Steve Sexton, The Wall Street Journal

California’s energy regulators effectively cooked the books to justify their recent command that all homes built in the Golden State after 2020 be equipped with solar panels. Far from a boon to homeowners, the costs to builders and home buyers will likely far exceed the benefits to the state.

The California Energy Commission, which approved the rule as part of new energy-efficiency regulations, didn’t conduct an objective, independent investigation of the policy’s effects. Instead it relied on economic analysis from the consultancy that proposed the policy, Energy and Environmental Economics Inc. Its study concluded that home buyers get a 100% investment return—paying $40 more in monthly mortgage costs but saving $80 a month on electricity. If it’s such a good deal, why aren’t home buyers clamoring for more panels already? Most new homes aren’t built with solar panels today, even though the state is saturated by solar marketing.

The Energy Commission is too optimistic about the cost of panels. It assumes the cost was $2.93 a watt in 2016 and will decline 17% by 2020. Yet comprehensive analysis of panel costs by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated the average cost of installed panels to be $4.50 a watt for the 2- to 4-kilowatt systems the policy mandates. That is $4,000 more than regulators claim for a 2.6-kilowatt model system in the central part of the state, where 20% of new homes are expected to be built. Berkeley Lab further estimates that costs fell a mere 1% between 2015 and 2016, far short of the 4% average annual decline the regulators predict.

Now consider the alleged savings on energy bills. The commission’s analysis assumes California will maintain its net energy-metering policy, which effectively subsidizes electricity produced by a rooftop solar panel…

Read full op-ed in the Wall Street Journal

 

Clean-energy lender Renovate America tops $1 billion in loans

By Ivan Penn, The Los Angeles Times

A leading clean-energy lender has topped $1 billion in loans for home improvements — a milestone for the San Diego company as well as a once-foundering government program to encourage projects that reduce electricity or water use.

Renovate America got into the business in 2011 as the Property Assessed Clean Energy financing program, or PACE, was struggling to overcome opposition from mortgage lenders and federal housing regulators that had stalled the clean-energy lending effort. Since then, the lender has provided money to 44,000 households for efficiency projects in partnership with local governments using the Pace program. That represents not only a fast-growing source of revenue for Renovate America but also a gauge of the improving health of PACE programs.

PaceNow, a nonprofit organization that tracks use of the Pace programs nationwide, lists Renovate America as the top operation of lender among more than 100 members. Renovate America is the only one to reach $1 billion in financing, with more than 90% market share of all Pace programs, which operate in conjunction with local governments in 32 states and the District of Columbia.

Read full article in the Los Angeles Times

Half Of California’s Electricity Will Come From Renewable Energy In 15 Years

By Ryan Koronowski, ThinkProgress.org

Late Friday night, the California State Assembly voted 51-26 to pass SB 350, a landmark bill that would boost renewable energy and make buildings twice as efficient as before. The legislature sent the bill to California Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature, and he is expected to sign it later this month, as the legislation makes real the goals Brown set down earlier this year in his inaugural address.

The state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) currently requires utilities to provide 33 percent of their electricity generation from renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal power, by 2020. SB 350, The Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, increases that target to 50 percent by 2030. It also requires a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings by that year.

Brown also issued an executive order in January that aims to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 — a big step to the larger 2050 goal of reducing GHGs by 80 percent under 1990 levels. This legislation accelerates the pace to that target.

Read full article from ThinkProgress.org