In “California’s Solar Rooftop Experience: A Report Card,” the authors take a broad look at the costs and benefits to California rooftop solar adopters, affected electric utility companies, the government, and the environment because of lower carbon emissions. Using data from academic and industry sources, they calculate how much would have been spent on a rooftop solar system for a typical high-consumption residence in 2010, based on the fixed cost of the equipment, tax credits, and monthly solar savings.
While allowing that California’s energy policies have resulted in a significant increase in the electricity produced by rooftop solar systems, the authors argue that California’s success came at a very high cost. According to their calculations, to pass a simple cost-benefit test, the environmental cost of a ton of carbon dioxide would have to be almost twenty-four times larger than current damage estimates. The authors assert that there are less expensive ways to achieve the same results and recommend a carbon tax as the most cost-effective method for reducing carbon emissions.
The Takeaway is a publication of the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy at the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University.