Can Californians afford zero carbon goals with skyrocketing power costs?

Next to housing, energy is the 2nd largest expense people have. And they are increasing steadily at 2 to 3 times the rate of inflation. Thanks to PG&E. It has risen the monthly bills of Californians to around 39% in the last three years. And still set to increase from 2024 to 2026. 

On the flip side, the government keeps pushing electricity over any other kinds of energy, making it the primary fuel of the economy. With the state-wide ban on natural gas appliances set for 2030, homeowners have no option but to adapt to the new electric era.

Combined together, can California sustain? Will the new green era make California poor? How to handle these price hikes with a fixed income? What alternatives do I have?

These became the new bedtime worries of people. As California has no alternative power provider, all these make the whole situation a lot worse. Even though the actions of PG&E are unethical and transparent, it is not going out of the monopoly game anytime soon as millions of dollars are sent to politicians of Santamonero and CPUC.

So How Californians should handle this?

Here, the problems are four-fold.

  1. The cost of power is rising and set to rise
  2. The ban on natural gas and promoting the electric as the primary source.
  3. No alternative power provider in California giving PG&E a monopoly, and
  4. PG&E will stay in monopoly.

So the only viable solution to handle this is: by going “Solar”. Because solar solves all four problems in one shot. 

  1. It helps you adapt to the “All electric zero-carbon” goals
  2. It frees you from the price hikes of PG&E.
  3. It frees you from PG&E’s monopoly and
  4. It is a renewable source of energy and gives the power to own your energy.

But many still think solar is more expensive. Yes, it was once expensive, but now with all the financial assistance and tax incentives, solar has truly become economic. In fact, in 2022 alone, America has installed solar that can power 22 million homes. These many units can never be sold if it was expensive. 

Also at first, it cost $300 per watt to install solar, which is really expensive. But since the price has continued to fall by at least 10% each year, now it only costs $3 per watt. Added to the top of a 26% Federal Tax Credit on installing solar, there is no reason now NOT to go solar.

Even so, here are 7 reasons why solar is beneficial for you:

What are the benefits of installing solar

  1. Saves money/ Lower utility bills: The most appealing factor of solar is saving money. Because in the majority of households, power has a major share of their total monthly expenses. With solar, you no longer need to pay those unrealistically high power bills to those utility companies.

Especially if you live in a state where the power charges are high, switching to solar becomes a relief. The independence, the fixed rate of payment not affected by inflation, and the power to control your energy would be burden-free and life-changing.

  1. Increased property value: As per research by Berkeley Lab, buyers paid $15,000 more in California for a house that has a pre-installed solar system. So more and more people are now turning to renewable sources to maximize their budgets. So if you have a property with solar installed, then it has a massive upper hand and can be easily sold or rented for a higher price.
  1. Earn money via solar: Many states (like California) have a policy called Net Metering. Where you get paid for the excess power sent back to the grid. For example: If your solar panels generate more power than you consume (and your panels are connected to the grid), then the excess power is sent back to the grid. And for this, you earn credit on your bill and receive cash.
  1. Low maintenance: There are no moving parts in solar. Due to this, the wear and tear cycle becomes long. So once installed the cost of maintenance is low. You may need to change batteries once 15 years. But other than that, all the maintenance is cheap or you can do it yourself.
  1. Tax benefit: The most popular one is Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Which allows homeowners to claim a credit on their federal income taxes equal to 26% of the cost of their solar installation. Also, on top, many states offer separate tax incentives for installing solar. 
  1. Healthy: Unlike fossil fuels which release harmful pollutants. Producing electricity from sunlight releases none to the atmosphere. It’s nature friendly and harmless. Also, it does not deplete natural resources like water or coal. As climate change has already begun, the responsibility has to be taken on an individual level to stop it and make the planet a sustainable place.
  1. Renewable: Touching on the last point, you own the power. Not for a year or a decade but for eternal. As famously Elon said:

“The amount of energy that reaches the earth from the sun is staggeringly high. If you take the nuclear plants and you take its current output and compare that to solar panels in the area used by the nuclear power plants, The solar panel put in that area would typically generate many times over.”

With all those benefits, there is no point in relying on utility companies. 

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