jspearman
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Re: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees for Solar Rooftops

Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:10 am

I pay about $10/mo with APS here in Phoenix on my 15.3kW system. I get paid retail rate for anything except excess generation, and then it's 3 cents per kWh. I'll overproduce about 6,000kWh this year, so that more than covers my monthly bill, but not much more.

$5/mo isn't a big deal, certainly, but APS was asking for between $50-100/mo extra from new solar rooftop owners. Not only that, they waged a very dishonest campaign against rooftop solar. They gave at least $3.7m to a lobbyist who then funneled it to outside astroturf groups to run commercials and ads. At first APS went on record denying they had any involvement, saying that the interest groups were acting on their own, but the excellent reporting by Ryan Randazzo at the Arizona Republic uncovered their lie and they finally admitted that it was their money financing the smear campaign. They painted rooftop solar owners as mooches who wanted someone else to pay their bills, not as people who give a damn about pollution, climate change, etc.

The ruling now opens the door for more increases, and the head of the ACC is a lackey for APS who voted against the .70/kW increase, as he wanted more. I believe APS is due for a new rate hearing in 2015, and if the ACC is more conservative than it is now (although five out of five members are Republicans, anything is possible), then we will see this fight start anew.

Fairness is one thing, but APS's actions had nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with protecting their monopoly.

On a happier note, it will take APS about 6 years to recover the money they spent on this campaign at $5 per month for each new solar install, so other utilities are unlikely to waste their money, time and reputations. Whether utilities like it or not, they are being disrupted and there's very little they can do about it unless they adapt. Dinosaurs like APS might limp into the future with a more limited role, but their day in the sun is over (pun definitely intended).

leafedbehind
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Re: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees for Solar Rooftops

Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:25 am

Off-grid is an interesting thought. How many half-depleted LEAF batteries would you need in the garage in order to go completely off-grid? I could probably do it with two or three. Maybe I'd have to crank up a diesel generator for an hour or two a day if there is a stretch of rainy weather.
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LEAFfan
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Re: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees for Solar Rooftops

Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:40 pm

RegGuheert wrote:I pay a "Grid Connection Fee" of $6.85 each month. It seems more than reasonable to pay this to be allowed to net meter.
So PV owners in AZ currently are paying $0/month for the grid connection?


Only 7 Bucks! Our (SRP) connect fee is $20 and APS's is very close to that. We all have a high grid-connect fee already!
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DarthPuppy
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Re: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees for Solar Rooftops

Sun Nov 17, 2013 11:07 pm

The argument that we "store" in the grid is bogus. In fact, we produce during the day when demand is high and generation/purchasing for the utility is expensive, thereby reducing the need for expensive new plants. This greatly reduces the cost to the utility. We then draw at night when they have far excess capacity and the power is cheap. Residential solar production is a pure win-win for the utility. It's also a win-win for the solar owner, except that the startup cost is so high. This technology holds so much promise that we should be encouraging it and removing barriers (unnecessary cost) rather than adding them. They just manage to snow enough of the regulators or have enough of them in their pocket to be able to get additional fees. It is sad to see so many say the current amount is "reasonable". Over time, they will change that.

It wasn't that long ago that we had rotating power outages in California because the utilities couldn't meet the daytime demand during the summers. That was a lot of extra time/expense at the same time that they weren't getting revenue since they unplugged a bunch of customers. I recall that this even resulted in a few deaths, which the Enron folks joked about. Rooftop solar has been part of the solution.

When utilities make these types of arguments, I'm reminded of a story of a gas company somewhere in northern California a few years ago that got approval and billed customers 2 times to replace a certain aging gas line, but never bothered. Apparently they used those funds to pay more executive bonuses. Then the gas line blew and killed a bunch of 'customers'. I don't think I ever heard the utility or their executives being held accountable. Perhaps they eventually were/will be, but that wasn't headline news anymore.

People, please stop with the super short memories. This was all within the last 15 years.
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kubel
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Re: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees for Solar Rooftops

Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:41 am

Cheap and abundant grid electricity -> Electrification of automobiles with batteries -> Decentralization of electricity production with solar -> Grid costs go up -> old EV batteries used as home battery banks -> Grid is obsolete.
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LeftieBiker
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Re: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees for Solar Rooftops

Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:11 am

As jspearman noted, the problem here is the precedent it establishes. There is little to stop the utilities from making solar production a losing proposition in the future, via large rate increases, should it suit them to do so.
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ydnas7
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Re: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees for Solar Rooftops

Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:35 am

electricity pricing is somewhat arbitary, but many costs are driven by the most difficult 15mins in the year.
ie once a year, somewhere is a powerplant (or equivalent) that only operates 1 day in the year.

IF PV helps to reduce that most difficult 15mins in the year, then it great and easy to justify.
(ie the most difficult 15mins in the year is due to airconditioning)
but
IF PV does not help to reduce that most difficult 15mins in the year, then it is not great and harder to justify.
(ie the most difficult 15mins in the year is due to heating)

In any case, PV reduce the energy usaeage of its providers, leading to less kWh but still similar infrastucture needed, so other costs will tend to go up. This is particulary an issue when it is new build homes that get PV.

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RegGuheert
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Re: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees for Solar Rooftops

Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:59 pm

LEAFfan wrote:Only 7 Bucks! Our (SRP) connect fee is $20 and APS's is very close to that. We all have a high grid-connect fee already!
Wow! I didn't realize that! Thanks for pointing that out!
RegGuheert
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JimSouCal
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Re: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees for Solar Rooftops

Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:57 pm

pkulak wrote:They should just set the buy price for electricity 10% or so lower than the retail price. That way every KWh you "store" in the grid has a cost.
Rather than retail price, what is the "true" cost of electricity generation? From coal? Oil? Natural gas? Geothermal? Hydro? The problem with energy markets is that external costs not a part of the pricing model are not factored in...

In Germany, Solar Electricity is purchased at a premium, and I'd favor that incentivized managed market model... Long term we will likely be better off conserving non-renewable resources...

DarthPuppy
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Re: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees for Solar Rooftops

Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:02 pm

The concept that decentralized power plants (i.e., home PV systems) increase grid costs is incorrect. These plants collectively can replace one or more plants that have to be available and standing by to meet the peak demand period - summer air conditioning. Perhaps in other markets, heating drives peak demand, but in Southwest, it's the summertime AC. That was demonstrated repeatedly by the timing of the rolling blackouts.

And, these plants are built with homeowner funds - the utility has no cost of construction or maintenace. The distribution grid already exists and the cost of maintainnig that is baked into the price already charged. If the homeowner is a net provider, the 'cost burden' is still neglible, especially when compared to the cost to put lines from any new plant built to bring the new large scale production onto the existing grid. So again, the utility comes out ahead.

And utilizing existing rooftops does not create the types of environmental impact problems that can arise from building a large solar farm in the desert, which otherwise would be undisturbed natural habitat. So it is a win-win for the utility as well as the environment. And when you factor in that so much of the existing power supply is through natural gas or other non-renewable or toxic sources like nukes, there really should be tremendous alignment to support this, not burden it.
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