Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Little Known Dark Side to California’s NetZero by 2020 Order

Lancaster, California has moved beyond requiring solar panels on the rooftops of new houses. A newly passed 2017 city ordinance stipulates that those rooftop arrays meet the energy needs of those homes.

solar baby.jpg

The city started requiring solar on new homes back in 2014, pioneering a policy that has since been adopted by Sebastopol, Santa Monica and San Francisco, and which was introduced into the California State Senate in January. Lancaster’s “Zero Net Energy” policy mandates that those rooftop arrays contain 2 watts per square foot of real estate.

The idea is that new houses added onto the grid cover their own energy needs for their occupants.

The Dark Side

Not every house will be able to support that much solar capacity, so builders also have an option to pay an in-lieu fee of $1.40 per square feet of constructed home, or a combination of solar panels and fee. The fee option unlocks a 50 percent discount on the generation component of the homeowners’ electricity bill for 20 years.

The focus on solar generation as the be-all, end-all of sustainable living could run into some issues down the road, as the role of intermittent generation evolves in California. The major utilities are grappling with how to handle the influx of solar production at midday, and the subsequent ramp-up in demand as the sun drops off.

The state's utility regulator recently approved a switch from pure net energy metering to a system where solar homes get charged for their time of use and could earn less money over time for selling surplus energy back to the grid.

In other words, a Net Zero Energy plan could need some fine-tuning before going statewide, where it would have a significant impact on those issues already facing the grid. Residential energy storage systems could play a role by letting the homeowners use their solar generation in the evening.

2020 is getting here quickly and when California requires all new homes to be Net Zero, will they be prepared.

For the modular industry, does this mean that the solar panels will be factory installed and require intensive site information for each house?

Every state will be watching what happens in CA from today through 2020.

No comments: