ICYMI: UC Berkeley Energy Expert Says NEM Debate Wrongly Focused on Maintaining Solar Industry Profitability

Posted on January 10, 2022

“The goal should be equitably saving the planet, not growing one industry.”

Sacramento – Calling the current debate about Net Energy Metering (NEM) “misguided,” the state’s foremost energy expert said the goal of the state’s rooftop solar subsidy program should be equitably saving the planet, not growing one industry.”

In a blog post released today, Severin Borenstein, E.T. Grether Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy at the Haas School of Business and Faculty Director of the Energy Institute at Haas, UC Berkeley, said:

“You might think that the PD [proposed decision] would supercharge both sides of a policy debate about the value of residential solar.”

“. . . instead of a debate about the appropriate role of residential solar in addressing greenhouse gas emissions in California and beyond,  the reactions have largely been about how much subsidy rooftop solar companies in California need in order to stay in business. If that sounds to you like climate policy is taking a back seat to political horse trading, you aren’t alone.”

This redirection of the residential solar debate highlights a larger reality about problematic regulatory policies: individuals and businesses make investments in response to those policies, and many come to believe that they have a right to see those policies continue indefinitely.”

“Yet, as electricity prices have increased and the CPUC has stuck with NEM, the ballooning subsidies have induced residential solar firms to go big on selling more dumb systems, without storage or grid communication. Those installations now do little to reduce grid costs or cut GHGs in California, but are still the vast majority of new systems going in today.  The result is costing non-solar households  boatloads of money.”