The laissez-faire infatuatants like to talk about how government should just “stay out of the way”. Well here is some ways that government can help everyone else “stay out of the way” so solar, wind, etc. energy production has a chance to save our sorry asses:
- Folks should be paid for the extra solar electric energy production that exceeds usage. Huffman has a bill to in the CA Legislature, AB 1920.
AB 1920 establishes a means by which Net-Metered customer-generators can get credit for “excess” electricity generation over and above their energy usage. The current Net-Metering law allows these customer-generators to get a “credit” toward their bill, but does not allow for any compensation for their excess generation. Many people are amazed that the utilities are not required to pay for this excess generation. This bill would correct that. The Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) credits for the excess generation purchased by the utility would then be owned by the utility and count toward their RPS requirements.
- Some statewide or region wide consistency in solar electric permitting submittal and inspection standards (Kurt Newick is working on getting this adopted at the International Code Council, the local Bay Area building officials). A proposed SolarTech approved standard for Photovoltaic installation permit submittal recommendations. (Instructions)
- Requirement that new homes have south/southwest facing roofs with a minimum 300 square foot surface. Kurt is reporting lots of crazy roofs and bad angles that make installing solar impossible.
- Requirements/guidelines on roofing angle to reduce installation costs.
- Currently in California, Homeowner Associations cannot block a solar installation. However, more than a few times homeowners have had to threaten to sue to get HOAs to agree to actually follow the law. HOAs ability to interfere in this area needs to be reduced -something with real teeth. This interference creates delays – increasing costs and making more likely that a less determined homeowner will follow through.
- Require new homes have the needed wiring in place so solar can be retrofitted post construction.
- Remove ability of NIMBYs/HOA/planning boards to determine that solar panels are ‘unsightly’ and shouldn’t be visible from street or some such nonsense.
- In multi-unit townhouses where the HOA handles exterior maintenance – the homeowner who installs solar is liable/responsible for the cost of removing the panels if roof work is needed. This burden should be assumed by the HOA.
- In multi-unit townhouses, individual buildings or connected units should be able to vote to install solar that will service the entire building or connected unit block. This handles the case where a good solar installation will cross multiple units’ roofs.
- Reduce/eliminate inflated permitting fees charged by cities. See this study for more details.
- Focus on the demand side as well. Develop Energy Star ratings for houses, the same as we have for refrigerators and other appliances. Penalize developers/builders/homeowners for building/buying houses with a poor rating. Have the Energy Star rating affect the property tax on the house. For townhouses, this might need to be assessed at the HOA level. Same needs to be applied to commercial buildings. Lots of flat roofs that should have solar on them.
- Don’t ignore barriers to geothermal or small windpower installations as well.