• John Sutter

Climate Change Strikes (Our California) Home


New York Times photo of the first day of the Camp Fire near Paradise.

It seems everyday we are seeing more evidence climate change is real, accelerating, and effecting our everyday lives.


Last week the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported:


PG&E seeks higher consumer rates


SACRAMENTO — Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. is asking state regulators for another increase in rates and profits, saying it’s needed for wildfire safety and to attract investment as the utility goes through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Sacramento Bee reported Monday that the request and a previous one could result in average PG& E customer bills rising more than $22 a month for electricity and natural gas.

Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, the state’s other major utilities, also asked the Public Utilities Commission for greater profit margins, saying they need to offer investors a higher return for taking on financial insecurity related to wildfires.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officials are trying to figure out how to deal with PG&E’s bankruptcy — and utilities in general — in the state now marked by frequent deadly wildfires.


At present, the combined average monthly bill for PG&E residential customers is $168. The new rate will boost that to about $190 per month. The company cites a need to: "fund new special accounts for wildfire emergencies, catastrophic events, caps on liabilities, and wildfire mitigation efforts."


I submit that as prices for solar generation systems fall and our conventional power system rates are increasing at a faster rate than ever, now is the time to go solar generation for your home's energy needs.


For about the last twenty years the rate of utility price increases have averaged around 5% a year, and solar systems paid for themselves in about 7 years. In today's climate environment that 5% annual average already seems like the good old days.


Also the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy projects starts decreasing at the end of the year and decreases to nothing in four years. (News alert: with our current federal administration it could end sooner).


If you finance your system with one of the generous county or state programs or a current fixed rate HELOC loan, the price for your energy is locked in for the 10 or 20 year term of the loan, much the way airlines buy jet fuel futures to guarantee the prices they have to pay in the future. And at the end of the term of the loan there will be many years of remaining generation that will provide energy at virtually no cost.


And you will have the satisfaction of knowing you are powering your home's operation with the least environmentally disruptive energy available today.


A few words to the wise .... OK, maybe a little more than a few.


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