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Richard Rider

Latest SKY HIGH CA residential electricity rates — and the case for CA home solar power

Below is my personal electricity bill for the month of October, 2018 — and my history for this past year.  Don’t be overly impressed by the low cost bills.  It’s the result of a very expensive solar electricity array on our roof.  

But DO be impressed (and appalled) by the SDG&E residential electricity RATES I included.  Below 400 kWh use, the price is 27 cents per kWh — double or more what customers pay in other states.

But it gets worse. Above 401 kWh usage a month, the price is a mind-blowing (and wallet-emptying) 47 cents/kWh.  Above 1,245 kWh the price rises even further to 55 cents/kWh.  I might add that these prices are probably similar to the rates of the other two major electricity utilities in the Golden State — PG&E, and SoCal Edison.  Folks in other states should look at THEIR electricity bills to get a feel for the ASTONISHING difference in CA rates vs. the other states.

It’s these ridiculous rates — coupled with California’s abundant sunshine — that make California uniquely attractive for solar installation.  In the other much lower electricity priced states, such a solar installation without big subsidies makes little or no sense.  Of course, the subsidies themselves make no sense at all.

Even in CA, solar can make little sense for many.  For example, CA homes close to the coast usually don’t need A/C, so their electricity usage is rather low — no tier 2 and higher usage.  Also there are often “onshore flow” clouds which block out the sun for part of the day — reducing the amount of solar power harvested by 75% or more while the overcast hangs over coastal homes.

Here’s a fun “good news, bad news, good news, bad news (etc.)” of my personal situation — and California solar arrays in general:

The bad news?  Electricity rates in most of CA are SKY HIGH.  Far higher than almost anywhere else in the country.

The good news?  My home now has a solar array that knocks our bill down to under an average $30/month for the year.  Something to do with all the California sunshine, I suspect!

The bad news?  It cost a fortune when we installed the array in 2009 — about $36,000.

The good news?  Y’all paid for almost half of it, as the federal and state tax credits back then totaled 50%.  After the subsidies are considered, we paid for the solar array in under seven years.  Yeah, yeah — tax credits are not a subsidy, yada, yada.  Whatever, dude.

The bad news?  See the payment-sharing “good news” above.

The good news?  Solar arrays are far less expensive today.

The bad news?  The tax credit percentage has dropped significantly.

The good news? See immediately above.

The bad news?  We have an electric Jacuzzi.

The good news? It’s a newer model, an improvement over our OLD Jacuzzi — an improvement that cut our Jacuzzi electricity consumption at least 80%.  Something to do with better heaters and motors, I’m told.  Coupled with better Jacuzzi insulation.

The bad news?  We have a full-blown office in the home — with great neon lighting, built in desks, electronics galore, etc.

The good news?   It’s the warmest room in the house.  It literally glows in the dark.

The bad news?  Ditto.

The good news?  We have central air conditioning.  We live about six miles inland from the Pacific. 

The bad news?  Our utility LOVES our A/C.

The good news? We have a “whole house” fan that reduces our A/C usage maybe 85%.  If you don’t know what a whole house fan is, check out my article about this needed (by some) home improvement.

The bad news?  WE taxpayers are still subsidizing solar installations.  Naturally, now that I have MY subsidized array, I want to end the subsidy!  That, and ending such subsidies makes sense economically.

The good news?  With today’s CA utility prices, solar array installation can (for many in CA) make sense WITHOUT the tax credits.  Several factors to consider, of course.  

The bad news?  Politicians don’t grasp simple economics.  They’d rather take credit for the continuing solar installations.  They have advanced degrees in “Feel Good Economics.”

The good news?  We have so much solar power (and its growing) that afternoon electricity will approach and PASS zero value.  Brownouts are a thing of the past in our state — except perhaps from 6PM to 8PM.

The bad news?  For now, there is no efficient way of storing this excess power, so more and more of our daytime electricity generation will be wasted.  Indeed, recently CA utilities have been forced to PAY Arizona utilities to take some of our excess solar production to keep the CA grid from malfunctioning.  Simply bizarre.

The good news?  At least if there’s a widespread electrical outage, we who have solar arrays will still have power.  Think fires and earthquakes.

The bad news?  Actually we WON’T have power. The state and the utilities don’t allow a residential array to have a switch to drop off the grid and use the home’s solar array to power that home.  There are legitimate safety issues involved, but they COULD be solved if allowed. I even asked electricians about illegally changing our system to such an option, but none would do it.  Not easy anyway, as it’s variable DC power.

Ending on a high note, the (obvious) good news!  For most in CA, the climate is exceptionally moderate.  The amount of residential electricity needed in the Golden State is significantly lower than in just about ALL the other states.

Enough!  No more “good news, bad news” in this article. But definitely some food for thought for Californians.

Here’s my most recent electricity bill — October, 2018:

SDG&E Logo SDG&E Bill Ready Notification
Amount Due $-34.45
Date Due Do Not Pay
For account ending in *****
Your net energy metering account will true up on 09/26/2019.
Net Energy Metering Monthly Summary
Net Electricity
50 kWh
The electricity delivered to you was more than the electricity received from you.

Average Electricity Cost (kWh)

Your total usage is 50 kWh.


 Tier 1



 Tier 2



 High Usage Charge

≥ 1,245


27¢ 47¢ 55¢
The pricing illustrated above represents an average SDG&E cost per kWh for each tier.

Actual prices may vary.

Your 13 Month Electricity Usage
Meter: ****

Current Rate: DR

13 month electricity usage chart

Log into My Account to view tabular versions of the energy use graphs provided in this email.

Your total net energy usage balance as of November 2018:

55 kWh