CA Passes Mandate: All New Homes Must Be 50% Solar-Powered by 2030

P. Gardner Goldsmith | May 11, 2018
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A small portion of the population sometimes forgets that the capital of the California state government is not Los Angeles, but is, in fact, Sacramento, many miles north of Tinseltown.

But the power of the L.A. left (and that of the leftists from the San Francisco area) to steer the state into economic ruin is manifest in Sacramento, so there’s not much difference, and it’s one of the reasons some Californians want to break away, and be free of the continuing assault of invasive and expensive California government dictates.

Dictates like this one, which ought to act as a warning to other people in the U.S. – this idea might pop up in the state legislature near you.

According to a bald-facedly glowing report by Ivan Penn for – surprise -- the New York Times, the Great Wizards in Sacramento have decided to tell everyone who builds a new house that by 2030, the buildings must get half their power from the sun.

(Applause from the solar panel makers, who’ve just gotten a big boost in business thanks to government manipulation of the market. I thought leftists hated this kind of corny crony capitalism…)

Yeah. You know the drill! Instead of going into the market oneself and seeing if homeowners wanted homes that were 50% energized by solar power (with all its attendant expenses and inefficiencies for energizing large items) why not use the force of government to tell other people how to build  -- or buy – homes?


As Penn writes:

Long a leader and trendsetter in its clean-energy goals, California took a giant step on Wednesday, becoming the first state to require all new homes to have solar power…. The new requirement, to take effect in two years, brings solar power into the mainstream in a way it has never been until now.

For a moment, the casual reader might get the impression that Penn is going to be even-handed about this new government imposition and command. After all, he admits:

It will add thousands of dollars to the cost of home when a shortage of affordable housing is one of California’s most pressing issues.

Which would fall into the “no duh” category.

But then Penn uses a deft sleight of hand to pass off those economic concerns, while blithely overlooking the ethical and moral breaches of politicians literally telling people how they can build homes or what kinds of homes consumers can purchase. He writes:

State officials and clean-energy advocates say the extra cost to home buyers will be more than made up in lower energy bills. That prospect has won over even the construction industry, which has embraced solar capability as a selling point.

Really? Politicians telling people that their mandates are “good for you” is somehow an acceptable excuse for fascism? Again, economic fascism is, by definition, the nominal (in name only) ownership of private property, while government tells property owners how it will be used.

Admitting that one is pushing fascism might not be all that winning a strategy for CA politicians, so why not come up with vacuous excuses like, “it’s for your own good; you’ll save money by doing what we command”?

And since when did home builders suddenly all become one giant, monolithic gestalt? How can Penn not be embarrassed by writing, “That prospect has won over even the construction industry, which has embraced solar capability as a selling point”?

Hint to the New York Times: a “mandating point” is not a "selling point".

And the reason solar is being mandated, rather than simply sold, peacefully, is that, as opposed to the burning of fossil fuels, it remains inefficient for large-scale uses.

As Richard Fulmer writes for the Foundation for Economic Education:

When it comes to power, energy density is the key. Solar power, wind power, and ethanol are so expensive because they are derived from very diffuse energy sources. It takes a lot of energy collectors such as solar cells, wind turbines, or corn stalks covering many square miles to produce the same amount of power that traditional coal, natural gas, or nuclear plants can on just a few acres.

Additionally, it takes a lot of energy to actually make the solar cells and power delivery system. Which is why, yeah, you got it, the CA politicians themselves acknowledged this increased expense – because it’s so manifest that, in the private market, people still shy away from it and are waiting for more efficient solar systems before they use them for their homes.

Solar power can be useful for small, low-demand, items. Photovoltaic cells can be used to charge batteries, phones, and signs. But there is a translation problem when people try to apply solar power to larger energy needs. Scientifically, the solar industry is still prey to what are termed the “thermodynamic efficiency limit” and the “ultimate efficiency limit,” and it’s the ultimate efficiency limit (pertaining to electron paring) that makes solar power less attractive than other forms of carbon-based energy for people on the market.

And this is not a small thing to consider. It is tied to morality and ethics, which, themselves, are connected to economics. Only by allowing our neighbor to determine what helps or harms him or her, and letting those choices in the market reflect their personal preferences, can we see what people value or do not value. Only by this process can prices reveal shortage, supply, demand, and the possible opportunity for new technologies to supplant old ones by showing individuals that they can help them more than the old options.

Solar power has yet to do this. And it is the height of immorality to impose on others one’s preferences, to dictate through the force of government what others should do and how they should live.

No wonder many people want to get away from Sacramento’s mandates. Not only will it cost them money, it costs them their liberty.

Who would want to live in homes that are economic prisons?