The California Energy Commission has mandated that most new residential structures — single family homes, condominium complexes, and apartment buildings — have rooftop solar systems beginning in 2020. While most people who care about the Earth are applauding the move, Fox News has greeted the decision with derision and scorn.
Amber Beck, a spokesperson for the California Energy Commission, says, “For residential homeowners, based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the standards will add about $40 to an average monthly payment, but save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling, and lighting bills. On average, the 2019 standards will increase the cost of constructing a new home by about $9,500 but will save $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over 30 years.”
It didn’t take Faux News long to find someone with a gloomier view. Brian Dahle, the Republican leader of the California Assembly, told the alleged news organization, “That’s just going to drive the cost up and make California, once again, not affordable to live.” Yup. You betcha. In a state where the average single-family home costs $479,000 and the typical monthly mortgage with principal and interest is $2,334, that extra $40 a month is going to be a deal breaker for most folks. (And the long-term savings don’t matter.)
Then Fox News dug up a quote from Bill Watt, a homebuilder and former president of the Orange County Building Industry Association. He tells The Orange County Register the added solar panel costs, in addition to other building mandates, will make home ownership out of reach for many buyers. “We’re not building enough housing already. Why not just pause for a little while, focus on the affordability and housing issues, then circle back?”
Robert Raymer, technical director of the California Building Industry Association, gave a tepid endorsement to the new policy. “[W]e would prefer that this had been put off for a few more years, but the fact is that the California Energy Commission has been working on this, with us, for the past 10 years. We know this is coming. We did everything we could to push down compliance costs and increase design flexibility.” In other words, they did everything they could to slow walk the process as much as possible, delaying the inevitable every step of the way, and increasing emissions in the process.
Brooke Singman, who purports to be a journalist, larded her Fox News story with this memorable line: “The solar panel decision is just the latest example of what critics see as the state’s ever-evolving nanny-state policies. California often is at the leading edge of government mandates and bans, having recently prohibited everything from plastic bags to foie gras – and even flirting with phasing out internal combustion engines.” Foie gras? Oh, the horror!
Then, as if to establish her bona fides, she dredged up the Solyndra debacle, an idea everyone was for before they were against it. “The mandate is the latest win for the solar industry, despite past controversies tied to companies’ use of taxpayer funds. The most notorious example was California company Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy in 2011. An Energy Department inspector general report in 2015 said the company misrepresented facts in order to secure a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government. Taxpayer lost most of that money in the deal.”
Conservatives Reactionaries have never met a handout to fossil fuel companies or the military they didn’t like. Those taxpayer-funded gifts cost hundreds of billions of dollars each and every year. But money to jump start the US solar industry so America could begin to wean itself off oil? Hang the bastards! Tar and feather ’em! Have them drawn and quartered at sunrise and then keel-hauled around the fleet!
Having thoroughly poisoned the minds of her readers, Singman tosses out this throwaway line at the very bottom of her journalistic tour de farce: “The new California measure would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 700,000 metric tons over three years, according to the commission. The Energy Commission said this would be equivalent to taking 115,000 cars off the road.”
Oh. With such fairly unbalanced diatribes soaking into the brains of its readers and viewers every day, it is little wonder that Donald Trump is pushing the world to the brink of World War III with his unhinged policies while his “base” cheers. In a perfect world, Fox News would be declared a terrorist organization and its rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth adherents deported. Then America could truly begin the task of becoming great once again.
Hat tip to Dan Allard