Letters to the Editor: Making rooftop solar more expensive won’t help anybody

Workers install solar panels on a roof
Solar panels are installed on a low-income home in Watts.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I can appreciate Mr. Borenstein’s argument for altering the current net metering policy, but take issue with several of his arguments. I’m not asserting that Southern California Edison is greedy, but the company is beholden to shareholders, not customers. Let’s not forget the shameful San Onofre debacle, where customers were held liable for millions to make up for a disgraceful mishandling of a defective nuclear facility, eventually shuttered.

Not all homeowners with rooftop solar are wealthy. I’m very much in the middle class, and was ready some years ago to install a sizable system to just do the right thing. Had the Coastal Commission not refused the plans, I’d have never broken even, but would feel great about my clean power. De-incentivizing any solar installation is killing the goose. Find a fair and reasonable wholesale price for consumer-generated power, advance subsidies for low-income residents and convert SCE to a true public utility that is responsive to public needs, not shareholders.

Greg Hilfman, Topanga



To the editor: When we got our first solar installation eight years ago, the size of the system was determined by our power usage, not the size of the roof. L.A. Department of Water and Power policies prevented us from producing more solar energy than we needed. Every month during all these years we paid a connectivity fee to the LADWP. A battery was not an option at the time. When our energy needs increased because we got a plug-in hybrid car, replaced the old gas heater with an electric heat pump and put in air-conditioning, our system was no longer big enough.

We recently installed a second system, this time with a battery backup. It’s not free, of course. I pay a monthly fee to lease that battery, never mind that it benefits others as well during peak energy times because I will be able to provide my own energy instead of using the overtaxed grid. So please, don’t tell me I’m a freeloader.

There is a climate crisis and we need to install as many solar panels as we can.

Ruth Honegger, Los Angeles


To the editor: Whether terribly poor or incredibly wealthy, anyone who cannot use rooftop solar pays more for the cost of the “grid” than those who can use rooftop.

Nevertheless, my rooftop solar contract with other parties is what it is. The terms and conditions of my contract were crucial to my decision to buy rooftop solar. It would be wrong for authorities to take away my net metering benefit without compensation.

If self-appointed do-gooders want to eliminate or reduce net metering rules for future agreements, that is up to them. I think that would be a mistake because it would hurt the quest to eliminate fossil fuel use and destroy a vibrant rooftop solar industry, and hugely upset all existing rooftop solar owners.

Mark Driskill, Long Beach


To the editor: Solar power costs less per unit produced than systems that rely on oil and gas, but lower costs do not control the profits made by utility companies. The energy costs per unit to poorer customers should drop, if discrimination and inequality in pricing did not place unequal burdens on geographic areas where people of color live. This unfair practice should cease with limits on price-gouging and unfair cost burdens to provide profits for shareholders or cheaper rates for wealthy people.

Karen Ashikeh, Long Beach


To the editor: California’s power utilities have failed the state. They are unreliable and dangerous (wildfires caused by neglected power lines have destroyed forests and homes and killed people). Now regulators have the nerve to punish those of us that have invested tens of thousands of our own hard-earned money into rooftop solar to have a more reliable power source, since in Simi Valley they shut off the grid anytime the wind kicks up.

California mandated as of Jan. 1, 2020, that most new home construction has to have rooftop solar power installed. The state is now wringing its hands over possibly paying us less for the excess generated electricity and making us pay a monthly grid connection fee. The California Public Utilities Commission must reject this atrocity of net metering 3.0 and make the power companies honor the original metering agreement that is good for the citizens of California.

Andrew Pobirs, Simi Valley