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Wed Dec 19, 2012, 12:53 AM

Solar power adds to nonusers' costs

Booming rooftop solar installations in California are bringing an unwelcome surprise to the homes and businesses that don't have the devices: an extra $1.3 billion added to their annual bills, more than half of that for Pacific Gas & Electric customers.

Power companies in the state, the nation's biggest for solar power, are required to buy electricity from home solar generators at the same price they resell it to other customers, meaning utilities earn nothing to cover their fixed costs. The rules are shortsighted because eventually rates must be raised to make up the difference, according to Southern California Edison, which has joined with competitors to estimate potential losses.

As more homes and warehouses get covered in solar panels, higher rates imposed on traditional consumers risk a growing conflict between renewable-energy advocates and power companies that foresee a backlash in California and 42 other states with similar policies. The tension has also emerged in countries including Spain and Germany, where solar investments are curbing investment in the power grid.

"You get into a situation where you have a transmission and distribution system with nobody paying for it," said Akbar Jazayeri, vice president of regulatory operations at Edison, a unit of Edison International and California's second-largest electric utility.
To deter losses as solar abounds, states typically set a cap on the amount of photovoltaic power utilities must buy under what is called net-metering policies. Those allow a meter to run backward during the hours a day when a home or business is selling the power to the utility. California's limit is 5 percent of a utility's aggregate peak load.




http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Solar-power-adds-to-nonusers-costs-4124277.php

13 replies, 1167 views

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 02:41 AM

1. Simple, take away the from subsidies nuclear and coal

then reduce the bills that way

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Response to intaglio (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 03:15 AM

2. Then the consumer bills would rise even faster

I benefit tremendously from the fact that CA is now making utilities pay for excess power on grid tie solar. I make much more than I use. However the additional infrastructure cost that I and other positive solar producers require has to be paid for somehow. Perhaps a rethink of the industry cost model is in order.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #2)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 02:07 PM

10. That so? So you are in favour of subsidies to nuclear and coal generation

but not to solar, wind and (hopefully) tidal.

You are very Progressive aren't you? But only in comparison to someone from the 1950s.

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Response to intaglio (Reply #10)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 02:27 PM

12. Actually I have a large solar plant that pays me well now that CA requires it.

Us solar guys are getting a bit of a free ride. The big solar guys even more so. The locally generated power is requiring more transmission capacity and there is not a good funding model to cover the costs. No different than wind or other local generation approaches. While all good things, it presents some new challenges.

The current subsidies lowers consumer power bills. If we ever went to a true "what it costs to provide you power" model, many consumers would be freezing in the dark. That is unacceptable.

We are moving away from coal/oil/nuclear and to some extent centrally generated and manged power. A good thing, but its not going to happen overnight.

My point is that the production model for power generation is changing and it is moving faster than the cost and payment models. That needs to get fixed. That is not support for subsidies, its a desire to get ahead of the game as we move to a renewable based power.

And that is quite progressive.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 03:19 AM

3. Tired of Corporate excuses

 

With the amount of money the utilities are making, I wonder if they ever heard of cutting profit to pay fixed costs? Where does their loyalty belong? with their rate payers who make the business, or with the blood sucking investors, CEOs & boardmembers who are parasites?

Thankfully, you can buy your power from other competing power companys using the same transmission lines.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 03:28 AM

4. It's a cost that benefits us all -- because solar power means cleaner air.

Clean air is a big deal in California. Look at our geography.

To the West we have the ocean, an expanse of land, much of which, at least in Southern California, is urban and densely populated.

Then to the East, we have mountains including Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the lower 48 states.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Whitney

The foggy air comes in from the ocean and meets the mountains. It has nowhere to go but down and settles in our basin. The gases from cars and industry and just human life are caught. They hover above us and congest our lungs.

I remember when I first visited Southern California in the 1960s. Smog was terrible, and as a contact lens wearer, I cried nearly the whole trip.

The air is cleaner now, but it could be cleaner. And solar energy could be the key to that cleaner air. Worth it. The cancer rate, the asthma in children, the general breathing problems would not be such a difficulty if we had cleaner air here.

Here is the information on our lung cancer rate.

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/statistics/state.htm

We are low, but if you saw how little people in Southern California smoke, you would be amazed that we have any cancer at all. I know a few people here who smoke, but I never see them smoke because I don't go out with them for their smoke breaks.

The anti-smoking campaign is fairly recent. I think our cancer rates will decline even more when those of us who worked in smoking environments are out of the picture.

Wow! To change the topic, note how high the lung cancer rates are in the South where people smoke a lot.

If I were a smoker, that chart would make me quit right now.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #4)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 03:31 AM

5. Used to live not far from Whitney

I lived both on the east side and west side of the mountains (ridgecrest, tehachapi, bakersfield) - the pollution in bakersfield is worst in the country.

Some miles away in Ridgecrest...sunny blue skys.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 04:04 AM

6. So change the outdated law.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 05:43 AM

7. Which is why big-power-plant co, inc, TM loathes renewable power

and why power plants should be owned by the communities they serve and operated as non-profit co-ops..paid for with taxation for hiring maintenance people and people to run it.

Younger people may not know it, but that's how it used to be before private companies came along & did them all a big favor & bought up their utilities..

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 06:06 AM

8. Then those customers should get solar panels. They do live on the same planet

and breathe the same air. It isn't like they are not benefiting from the panels, if only indirectly.

Nobody with any sense at all is going to have a problem with this.

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Response to The Straight Story (Original post)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 06:22 AM

9. Germany has managed to figure it out

 

Germany is one of the world's top photovoltaics installers, with a solar PV capacity as of 2011 of almost 25 gigawatts (GW). As of 31st on October 2012, there were 31.62 GW of photovoltaics connected to the electrical power network. The German solar PV industry installed about 7.5 GW in 2011, and solar PV provided 18 TWh (billion kilowatt-hours) of electricity in 2011, about 3% of total electricity. Some market analysts expect this could reach 25 percent by 2050.



... On midday of Saturday May 26, 2012, solar energy provided over 40% of total electricity consumption in Germany, and 20% for the 24h-day... Solar power in Germany has been growing considerably due to the country's feed-in tariffs for renewable energy which were introduced by the German Renewable Energy Act. Prices of PV systems have decreased more than 50% in 5 years since 2006.

...A feed-in tariff is the most effective means of developing solar power. It is the same as a power purchase agreement, but is at a much higher rate. As the industry matures, it is reduced and becomes the same as a power purchase agreement. A feed-in tariff allows investors

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Germany

While Germany (Known for it's sunny climate!) has become the world leader in photovoltaics the US has been carrying out the PNAC plan.

Compare the photo above to our base in Kosovo (PNAC 1999):
Camp Bondsteel



If the US Gov wanted energy independence it would have started a serious program in the 70's, or the 80's, or the 90's OR IT WOULD START one now.

Obama can't even keep his promise to put solar panels onto the white house FFS.

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Response to green for victory (Reply #9)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 02:11 PM

11. Nah, that would mean more costomers buying from their grid cause of lower rates...that's

...common sense...something US corps hate to use

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Response to green for victory (Reply #9)

Wed Dec 19, 2012, 02:45 PM

13. Not entirely, but they are getting there

In the US we are moving from large centralize facilities and control to a more distributed generation capacity based on renewables. A very good thing but there are teething problems. The Germans are ahead of us and we can learn from their lessons on the tech side and maybe the business side as well. All and all a good thing.

This transition is also causing problems with the cost models and management models that underpin the power grid and businesses in the US. If well killed all subsidies, power would be unaffordable to many, an unacceptable condition. A forward looking major rethink of how the power business is run and funded is called for. The Feds should lead it, but its not clear if there is enough understanding or desire there to make it happen. It would be proactive way to lead us away from coal/oil/nuclear into renewables dominated era.

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