Summary of The Solar-Panel Backlash is Here from The Atlantic, October 31, 2023

The article argues that as the U.S. aims to increase its renewable energy capacity, it faces challenges in distribution, storage, and economic viability, particularly for solar power.

– The article discusses the growing issue of wasted solar energy in states like California.

– The “duck curve” phenomenon, where more solar energy is produced than can be consumed, is becoming more problematic. In California, 6% of solar energy was wasted in 2022, and wind energy faces a similar issue.

– The California Public Utilities Commission has reduced net metering payouts, making solar panels less economically attractive for homeowners.

– The issue is spreading nationally as the U.S. moves toward renewable energy. Current infrastructure can’t efficiently distribute or store the excess clean energy.

– Texas also faces similar challenges; its power grid has limited interconnections with neighboring states. 5% of wind and 9% of solar energy were wasted in Texas in 2022.

– Despite pledges from the Biden administration to modernize the grid, building new transmission lines is a complex and slow process.

– States like Indiana and North Carolina are rolling back net metering, making solar panels less financially viable for consumers.

– Critics argue that net metering benefits wealthier households while unfairly shifting grid maintenance costs to those without solar panels.

– Utility companies are generally resistant to widespread rooftop solar adoption, as it doesn’t contribute to their profits.

– The trend against net metering is seen as a missed opportunity for scaling up clean energy, as fewer people are likely to install solar panels.

– Alternative solutions like “microgrids” or more nuanced net metering policies could help, but they conflict with the traditional utility model.