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Letters to the Editor: Rooftop solar and battery backups could decentralize power, but utilities stand in the way

Workers install a rooftop solar power system.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I recently installed a modest rooftop solar electricity system, motivated by the long-term payback, rising utility rates and the 26% federal tax credit. (“Here’s how California can keep the lights on while meeting its clean energy goals,” Aug. 19)

My utility does not appear to share my enthusiasm. It wanted $1,000 for a new meter, which is really just the same meter on my panel but with more sophisticated electronics. To encourage customers to install solar panels, utilities should give these meters out for free or at least sell them at cost.

Last month, my system produced 1,103 kilowatt-hours, of which I used 430 and sent the remaining energy back into the grid for the utility to sell at sky-high rates to someone else. So much for the idea that solar users are driving up rates for everyone.

Technology is rapidly changing. It is now economically feasible to supply distributed power within a community using solar, wind and battery backups. This could eliminate the need for large power stations hundreds of miles away with dangerous high-voltage wires in many areas.

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The utility companies need to be proactive in developing a business model where they share in the cost of residential solar and community battery storage.

Dennis Arntz, Laguna Niguel


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