kevin672
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Re: SDG&E asks for higher rates on customers who go solar

Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:17 am

At least one politician in SDG&E's service area has sent a letter to the CPUC opposing the new rates. http://eastcountymagazine.org/sites/def ... .10.11.pdf

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DaveEV
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Re: SDG&E asks for higher rates on customers who go solar

Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:26 pm

johnr wrote:Here's another article on this topic:
http://www.solarindustrymag.com/e107_pl ... ntent.9095" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
From that article:
Per the company's calculations, an average hourly power flow of 1 kW, for instance, would incur a monthly charge of $35.44 under the current proposed rates for 2014.
That's ridiculous. That's about the same or more than what I pay for to charge my EV monthly - (about 250 kWh/month at $0.14/kWh) which includes distribution AND energy charges.

But charging the EV when the sun isn't shining on a net-meter would incur an hourly demand of nearly 4 kW which would then cost $144.76? That's way more than commercial demand charges.

Where is the transparency here? Why can't we see _exactly_ how SDG&E is proposing to bill customers so one can accurately judge the effect on their bill?

LKK
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Re: SDG&E asks for higher rates on customers who go solar

Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:39 pm

drees wrote:
johnr wrote:Here's another article on this topic:
http://www.solarindustrymag.com/e107_pl ... ntent.9095" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
From that article:
Per the company's calculations, an average hourly power flow of 1 kW, for instance, would incur a monthly charge of $35.44 under the current proposed rates for 2014.
That's ridiculous. That's about the same or more than what I pay for to charge my EV monthly - (about 250 kWh/month at $0.14/kWh) which includes distribution AND energy charges.

But charging the EV when the sun isn't shining on a net-meter would incur an hourly demand of nearly 4 kW which would then cost $144.76? That's way more than commercial demand charges.

Where is the transparency here? Why can't we see _exactly_ how SDG&E is proposing to bill customers so one can accurately judge the effect on their bill?
I've been trying to figure out that statement as well. I think what SDG&E is saying is if you draw 1 kwh off the grid continuously for a month (about 720 hours), the grid costs work out to $35.44. If this assumption is correct, they want to charge solar users a grid charge of about 4.9 cents per kwh ($35.44/729) for power drawn off the grid at night. For a 20 kwh overnight charge this works out to almost an additional dollar.

This whole concept is pretty ridiculous when you consider that we are trading clean renewable power generated during the peak time of the day for excess power at night. In addition every kw generated by solar installations in San Diego is one less kw that has to be transported over expensive transmission lines like the Sunrise Power Link.

As the article says, this rate hike will slow the adoption of private solar, I think that is conterproductive. In the article Sanjay Ranchod makes an important point which I think gets to the heart of this matter "Part of what's going on is that the utility has concern about an increasing number of its customers going solar and, therefore, not demanding as much electricity from the utility." In other words, SDG&E thinks its customers with solar installations are freeloaders. They make their own power, thereby reducing sales and the bottom line, and they have the nerve to push their excess stinking solar power on to the grid further reducing the bottom line, and the gall to think they can trade this stinking solar power for cheap off-peak power at night.

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TonyWilliams
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Re: SDG&E asks for higher rates on customers who go solar

Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:16 pm

LKK wrote: They make their own power, thereby reducing sales and the bottom line, and they have the nerve to push their excess stinking solar power on to the grid further reducing the bottom line, and the gall to think they can trade this stinking solar power for cheap off-peak power at night.
They're more upset, IMHO, at being forced to pay us for the excess solar.

This is their return fire.

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DaveEV
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Re: SDG&E asks for higher rates on customers who go solar

Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:49 pm

TonyWilliams wrote:
LKK wrote: They make their own power, thereby reducing sales and the bottom line, and they have the nerve to push their excess stinking solar power on to the grid further reducing the bottom line, and the gall to think they can trade this stinking solar power for cheap off-peak power at night.
They're more upset, IMHO, at being forced to pay us for the excess solar.

This is their return fire.
They shouldn't be - they're only paying average wholesale day ahead market rate ($0.036-0.039 / kWh) for excess solar (on an annual basis) - so they still get to charge full retail price for that excess solar including distribution even though that electricity only fed your neighbors hundreds of feet away at most. That's a profit margin of $0.10-$0.26 / kWh for your excess production with only a fraction of the distribution costs. SDG&E should LOVE net-metered over-producers!

Net-metering is much worse for them since you get full retail credit for every excess kWh you push to the grid - and you can "store" it for as long as a year.

Right now I'm on the regular flat rate - I should probably move to TOU as so far my calculations show a better return for me, but I want to see what the winter months look like first - the higher winter rates of the TOU plan ($0.177-0.185 / kWh) may be too much to overcome my excess summer production when I take into consideration that my house tends to use the most electricity from Nov-Feb.

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EricH
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Re: SDG&E asks for higher rates on customers who go solar

Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:12 pm

I see several comments about "excess" generation rates, etc. The utilities, I think, are not especially concerned about customers who, at the end of the Net Energy Metering billing year, have a modest 'overgeneration' for which the customer is paid approximately wholesale electricity rates (say, 4-5 cents/kWh). Utilities are much more concerned about the entire Net Energy Metering subsidy, whereby a customer who places solar panels on their roof can avoid any responsibility for the overall utility system costs, by feeding power into the grid at noon (credited at on-peak retail rates, for solar owners on TOU rates), then sucking it back off the system during the afternoon/evening and night.

Is solar power, fed back into they system during the daytime, worth 4-5 cents/kWh? Very likely. Is it worth 35 cents/kWh? Very unlikely. As a customer with no solar panels, I would prefer my utility to buy power at 5 cents, than 35 cents, because I pay the average cost of that power.

Please don't confuse SDG&E's recent proposal with an 'assault' of some kind on the year-end net over-generation payment (4-5 cents); it appears to be a way to get NEM customers to pay for at least some of the costs they impose on the utility system, irrespective of whether they over-generate on an annual-net basis. The impact on "solar cost-effectiveness" will be what it is -- I'm far more sympathetic to people who invested in solar last year, concerned the existing economics of their decision will be materially impacted, than I am to folks not-yet committed to solar, who are alarmed that the free ride of Net Energy Metering may be curtailed before they can sign a contract.

Let's debate the "open" subsidies like state/utility rebates for solar installation, but don't pretend that uncontrollable, un-dispatchable power that is subject to outages, is somehow worth retail Tier 3-4-5 residential prices. SDG&E appears to be challenging the PC "solar-at-any-price" wisdom, but their economics and logic have a solid foundation in principle.
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SanDust
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Re: SDG&E asks for higher rates on customers who go solar

Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:10 am

EricH wrote:Is solar power, fed back into they system during the daytime, worth 4-5 cents/kWh? Very likely. Is it worth 35 cents/kWh? Very unlikely. As a customer with no solar panels, I would prefer my utility to buy power at 5 cents, than 35 cents, because I pay the average cost of that power.
...
Let's debate the "open" subsidies like state/utility rebates for solar installation, but don't pretend that uncontrollable, un-dispatchable power that is subject to outages, is somehow worth retail Tier 3-4-5 residential prices. SDG&E appears to be challenging the PC "solar-at-any-price" wisdom, but their economics and logic have a solid foundation in principle.
You don't get it. If you read SDG&E's submission what it is most concerned about is customers paying the highest rates adopting a PV system and turning into lower value customers. IOW what SDG&E fears is competition, and competition is what will keep rates down for all ratepayers. That would include you.

People with PV systems will figure out a way to get around the charges. That might be something as complex as a battery backup system but it could also be something as simple as charging their cars or running the pool pump on peak rather than at super off-peak. Trust me, that won't do anything for your rates but drive them up.

Finally, the fact is that, as SDG&E describe in detail, technological advancements make solar a more cost effective by the day. We're not too far away from the time when a PV system and storage will be cheaper than SDG&E's standard rates. All the network charges in the world won't stop that. In fact it may accelerate the move towards bypass. At that point the only people left on the network, and forced to pay all the costs, will be those who are too poor or otherwise incapable of getting a PV system. All SDG&E is doing here is throwing glass out the back of wagon trains in an effort to slow down the cars which are rapidly overtaking them.

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lonndoggie
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Re: SDG&E asks for higher rates on customers who go solar

Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:47 am

EricH wrote:...it (SDG&E's proposal) appears to be a way to get NEM customers to pay for at least some of the costs they impose on the utility system, irrespective of whether they over-generate on an annual-net basis.
Indeed. And, as others have pointed out, in any month that I generate more than I consume, I still pay over $5 for use of the grid. Apparently, that's not enough now, per SDG&E. And maybe it's not--but, I don't think my use of the grid (as opposed to consumption of electricity) should be related to how many electrons I push in or pull out; the service time of these systems is decades, which, other than mis-sized transformers and such, don't wear out appreciably more quickly due to electrical flow. So there's a long amortization period for the costs, spread out over all the users. Should be pretty small per month, and relatively fixed.
EricH wrote:...don't pretend that uncontrollable, un-dispatchable power that is subject to outages, is somehow worth retail Tier 3-4-5 residential prices. SDG&E appears to be challenging the PC "solar-at-any-price" wisdom, but their economics and logic have a solid foundation in principle.
And yet, the TOU rates are *their* rates. WE didn't foist them upon the utilities, they offered them to us, admittedly as an incentive to get more people to pony up for PV systems--because SDG&E thought it was a good thing for them, too. As I drive around the county and see the vast majority of rooftops without panels, I can't believe we're at the point where those of us with PV systems are creating a hardship for SDG&E. Or hurting our neighbors who haven't invested in solar.

Come back and talk to me after you've plunked down tens of thousands of dollars for your own PV system.
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DaveEV
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Re: SDG&E asks for higher rates on customers who go solar

Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:38 am

SanDust wrote:People with PV systems will figure out a way to get around the charges. That might be something as complex as a battery backup system but it could also be something as simple as charging their cars or running the pool pump on peak rather than at super off-peak. Trust me, that won't do anything for your rates but drive them up.
Exactly - if SDG&E gives net-metered customers an incentive to reduce the amount of power they pull from the grid when the sun isn't shining you better believe that these customers will shift their loads to run when the sun is shining.

This won't have much affect on winter rates since those are pretty flat regardless of time, but in the summer I'm going to start doing my laundry and charging my LEAF early afternoon (during peak hours) instead of early morning or late evening (during off-peak hours).

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EricH
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Re: SDG&E asks for higher rates on customers who go solar

Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:48 am

SanDust wrote:You don't get it. If you read SDG&E's submission what it is most concerned about is customers paying the highest rates adopting a PV system and turning into lower value customers. IOW what SDG&E fears is competition, and competition is what will keep rates down for all ratepayers. That would include you.

People with PV systems will figure out a way to get around the charges. That might be something as complex as a battery backup system but it could also be something as simple as charging their cars or running the pool pump on peak rather than at super off-peak. Trust me, that won't do anything for your rates but drive them up.
I wasn't trying to defend SDG&E's proposal or arguments - merely the economics. What I really don't get is your use of the word "competition". SDG&E's problems, common to the other California investor-owned utilities (PG&E and SCE), is that they were required to build a large system that didn't allow shortages or brownouts, for its entire customer base. Then, after regulators screwed with the system around 2000, the utilities were stuck with a residential pricing structure that dumped the last decade of inflation and social costs on the highest users (Tiers 3-4-5). Add to that a well-intentioned idea called "Net Energy Metering", which essentially forced utilities to buy kWh at retail prices (often Tiers 3-4-5, which are the folks most likely to adopt solar) and sell at lower prices (to the lower-tiered customers not on solar). Since Tiers 1 and 2 are essentially frozen, all that money comes from somewhere... oh, wait, it comes from my Tier 3-4-5 rates, which went up to cover the shortfall created by the solar PV customer next door. Increased adoption of solar PV won't lower my rates - they will go up to cover my (larger) share of the fixed utility system that was built to serve my neighbor too.

If you find anything in this situation that resembles "competition", we had wildly different economics texts. It is the consequence of legislation and regulatory policies that are mainly a decade old. If your upper-tier rates weren't so high, you probably wouldn't have found solar PV cost-effective, even with the state rebates and the favorable net energy metering policy that SDG&E appears to be trying to modify. No real-world unregulated commodity costs more, the more you use -- but that's California energy pricing.

Also, I specifically expressed my concerns with 'changing the deal' for those who already committed money to a solar PV installation; we don't really disagree on that point, except that I would consider $5/month a fairly trivial impact on a decade(s)-long payback calculation. I have more sympathy with grandfathering the existing PV investors somehow, and modifying the deal to provide sustainable, open subsidies to future adopters.
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