This concern was raised by a person who attended one of my Zero Carbon, Zero Bills webinars. Here is the question and my answer:
Queation: Hi David, I really enjoyed your talk last week on your zero carbon adventure. I did have a question, which didn’t get answered. I have a friend that works at National Grid and she told me if you sell your solar RECs, which I believe you did, you can not claim to be carbon free as those rights go with the REC? After your talk, I went back to her and she felt that this was definitely the case and that you would need to buy RECs to offset the ones’ you sold, to make the carbon free claim and you should also tell people you sold your RECs and brought other ones.
Just wondering your thoughts on this
Thanks and thanks again for a wonderful talk. I plan to share this with some folks
Hi Rob, I have occasionally heard this perspective before and I think that reasonable people can disagree on this one.
I have two concerns with your friend’s perspective.
The first is that I have not counted either RECs or SRECS in my calculation of my carbon footprint. I have actually cut my carbon footprint to zero by using the fab four, it is Eversource that is claiming it has cut its carbon footprint when it has not done so. So, I think it is more accurate that I say I have cut my carbon footprint and it is Eversource that has been allowed by the state regulators to claim it has cut its carbon footprint (by buying my SRECs) when it has not done so. But I have genuinely cut my carbon footprint and it is zero. The SRECS have not been counted in any part of my carbon footprint reduction. My carbon footprint is zero because I no longer burn heating oil and I generate all my own electricity, including that to heat my house, using heat pumps, powered with zero-carbon solar panels.
My second point is that, where I do count the SRECs is in the financial subsidies. I genuinely receive this cash so I do not think it is right to remove it from the financial forecasts. There are many subsidies involved in going zero, from net metering and zero-interest loans (which are essentially funded through all of us in MA paying the highest price price for electricity in the US, other than Hawaii) to federal and state tax credits. SRECs are calculated per kWh I generate, the federal tax credit is calculated based on the price you pay for the solar system you install. Why should one subsidy not count just because it is based on kWh generated rather than on the price of the solar system? SRECs were replaced with SMART in 2018 and so it is only owners of legacy systems that receive them. I do not see why a subsidy should be dismissed for those who installed systems prior to 2018 but should be allowed for those who installed systems after 2018.
In my opinion, SRECs are just a form of subsidy, paid from a regulated utility to an owner of solar panels, which means they are ultimately paid by all electricity customers. This is essentially a regressive form of taxation because it takes money from everyone who uses electricity (including poor people) and funnels it to those who can afford to install solar panels which tend to be wealthy people or investors. I think this is rather unfair, but I do not make the laws Rob, I just abide by them.
Please share these thoughts with your friends, I am interested to hear what she says.
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On Jun 19, 2020, at 2:31 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: