CA Solar Panel Push Still Leaves Residents In The Dark As Grid Shuts Down For Fires

P. Gardner Goldsmith | October 29, 2019
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As I reported in March of 2018, the light-on-wisdom, heavy-on-compulsion, government of California recently mandated that all new homes must be at least 50 percent solar-powered by 2020, which not only is an immoral command on peaceful homebuilders and buyers, it is an imposition of higher expenses and energy inefficiency.

And, now, it turns out that solar-paneled California residents were sadly mistaken in anticipating that their “solar homes” would have electricity when the power corporation PG&E shuts down supply “to lower fire risk”.

As James Murphy reports for The New American, that’s not at all how the “solar-powered homes” system works:

(M)ost panels are not designed to power the homes they are attached to — but to supply power to the electrical grid. Moreover, the panels attached to the power grid shut off for safety reasons when blackouts happen, according to Audrey Lee, the vice-president of energy services for Sunrun. ‘And that’s because in an outage, we wouldn’t want the power from the solar to flow back on the grid. If there was a utility employee working on that grid, that backflow power would be very dangerous for them.’

Yep. Many California residents have been aware of this, but the information comes as shocking news to others – and many proponents of “solar” around the nation – who thought that, surely, the state mandating expenses of up to $12,000 for solar panels on new home construction would be “a public good”.

The trick about this is that the utility company, PG&E, holds such sway with the politicians of California that the state mandates solar power created at private homes be funneled into the corporate grid, rather than stay with the home itself. The homeowners are then “graciously” given a discount on their bill that takes into consideration the power their own home adds to the lines.

So, not only will new homeowners be compelled to have solar panels, they will also be compelled to hand over that power to the power collective. And when the power collective decides to shut down its lines?

Sorry, folks. It’s blackout time.

And why does PG&E shut down power to “reduce the chance of wildfires”? Because, as I noted for MRCTV in May:

(T)he core and majority of PG&E’s power lines run above government owned and mismanaged land. As numerous commentators have observed, the lack of private property ownership, control, and real liability for management of land has led to a shocking history of fires in California and elsewhere in the US. The government won’t go out of business if it causes damage to other peoples’ property through the mismanagement of land it claims as its own.

And California residents have little to no choice but to sign-on with PG&E if they want electricity:

…PG&E is one of only a few companies allowed to sell power on a retail level. Its prices are capped by the state, drawing from a government-controlled system of power offerings. In other words, there is not only a government-inspired risk problem when it comes to the land over which the lines run, there is no freedom in the consumers’ ability to choose or not choose a company to provide the power.

And now they have no choices when it comes to having or not having solar panels on new homes – solar panels that won’t even work during these new blackouts mandated by PG&E, blackouts that put lives and communications at risk. Heck, the state even mandated that HAM radio users shut down repeaters this year – to “lower the risk” of fire, even as the government increases the communication efforts to warn people of FIRE.

As I wrote earlier this year when PG&E announced its plan, these mandates overlook the key to protect property: recognition of real property rights.

It’s pretty fundamental. Ownership of private property incentivizes owners to take care of land because they are liable for fires that start or spread on their land and then damage other owners’ land. This doesn’t happen on government-run parcels. The government claims “sovereign immunity” from liability, has no positive incentive to cut old brush away and decrease the risk of spread, and, should a citizen ever be “allowed” to sue the government, the state pays for its lawyers and for any judgment by... taxing the public.

Meanwhile, the mandates stay in place, and the only way people can use their solar panels when PG&E shuts down power to a million CA residents is to own huge, expensive – and environmentally hazardous – batteries.

As Murphy explains:

Even for solar panels designed to power a house, a battery back-up is necessary or solar panels are useless in a power outage. With a battery-connected system, excess power that the home produces charges the battery, which can then be used at night or during power outages. But the battery backup systems are expensive, generally running from $5,000 to $7,000 for a residential system. The largest U.S. rooftop solar supplier, Sunrun, Inc., says that hundreds of its customers are getting through the blackouts with the help of battery back-ups.

So if you’ve got the money, you can get the battery. Otherwise, forget it. There’s no real market competition to provide power in California, the company given a virtual monopoly over electric power in the state will unilaterally cut off anyone its “great minds” want to cut off, and those who have homes with mandated solar “power” won’t have it either.

California's lawmakers show an effort to keep residents in the dark on a multitude of levels.