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California solar panel mandate bears watching
Over the years, it’s been interesting to watch trends that start in California as they spread to the rest of the country — or not.
From skateboards to fashion to legal weed, things seem to start on the coast, only to arrive in the Midwest in time to be replaced by something else on the west coast.
California’s latest move is more than a fad, however, and will play out over decades instead of fashion seasons.
Starting in 2020 — yes, that’s only next year! — every new home built in the Golden State must have solar panels, at a cost estimated between $8,000 and $10,000.
California’s Energy Commission estimates that will increase the average monthly mortgage by $40, but will save new homeowners an average of $80 a month on heating, cooling and lighting.
Even if that proves to be true, the government mandate raises as many questions as it answers.
How long will it take for the higher installation cost to pay for itself, even with a government subsidy? What if my home is in a shaded location? What if solar panels don’t fit the architectural design -- and I simply think they’re ugly?
What if I have other energy plans for my home — say wind or some exotic source yet unknown?
Can the grid handle the excess solar energy efficiently? What about toxic materials and hazardous products used to manufacture solar photovoltaics, and how are solar panels disposed of once they’re no longer used?
Nebraska is slowly adopting solar energy, but our ratepayers, who purchase electricity at a little more than half the price of Californians, may be happy to let them deal with the teething problems.