LKK wrote: The real reason for utilities attacking solar users is loss of profits.
The short version.
The long version:
Lopton wrote:I'll chime in and offer a different opinion. The customers installing grid tie solar do provide power back to the grid, however they only do this for less than half of the day at best, and even during that time they are relying completely on the grid for reliability.
A different opinion is definitely welcomed. I believe that the counterpoints will prove more compelling though.
Historically nothing like this was possible so the utilities charged using a simple calculation, you pay for what you use based on KWH's consumed. But is it really fair that a customer who provides power for a small bit of power for part of the day gets to use all of the equipment required to keep the grid functioning for free?
The solar customer is relying on thousand of miles of wire, voltage regulators, circuit breakers, 24/7 operating personnel, maintenance personnel, and power plants to be there ready the instant a cloud covers their PV panel, and as the sun sets to keep the lights on during the night. I believe that it is completely reasonable to be charged a certain amount for that service. I also think that if you build a large enough array then maybe you should get free power, but it needs to do much more than covering just your load.
And that is where the problem is, the utilities want to use a "simple calculation," but with the stipulation that the calculation will result in more profits for them. Otherwise they're perfectly willing to go to complex calculations, as their longstanding charges for businesses for demand demonstrate. It is also true that, at least for the time people are generating, they really aren't using the grid, the grid is using their electricity for the benefit of the electric company or in a more general sense the society with clean electricity. So why shouldn't there be a calculation for them to credit their "grid charges"" for that timeframe, except it would be a complex calculation. In my situation, I am on TOU, and have ONLY used the grid for electricity for off-peak times (at least for the past 10 days since they put the meter in, prior to that I had smaller batteries and did use some peak electricity).
If you don't want to be charged for that service then build your solar system appropriately, with a battery backup, and disconnect from the grid. However anyone who has looked at that option quickly realizes that connecting the grid and using it as a battery is so much cheaper.
That's what I've done is built a PV system with battery backup, and if there weren't space constrictions I'd have 12kw instead of 5kw and truly go off-grid, although I don't think that is allowed by code (I know that is the situation in some places). After three hurricanes in Central Florida, the third one at the last hour or so knocking power out and resulting in damages to the house because I didn't have electricity to wet-vac the water that was coming in, and power out for a week, I had a real incentive. And yet, no credit for the grid charges when the power was out and they didn't provide the 100% reliable electricity that people were depending on. And yes, I understand there were extenuating circumstances, but yet that doesn't change the logical argument.
Diving further in to the solar issue is the problem that occurs as you start adding more and more solar, take a peak at the California ISO "duck curve," (http://www.solarcurator.com/wp-content/ ... 506141.jpg
). Notice how system load is not highest during the day, but peaks at night after the solar goes down. Now instead of having to raise generation 2,000MW's the ISO is going to have to raise it by 12,000MW's, the equivalent of bring 9 large coal or nuclear plants from offline to online in 3 hours, not an easy feat.
That is the responsibility of the electric company to plan for I would think. Wouldn't they be bringing the generators up as they do every morning after being off-peak all night?
All that being said, it can be done, but there are costs associated with it, and is it fair to pass your share for the grid costs on to someone who can't afford solar, or can't get it because they don't own their house? Sure the utility company is a big bad entity who just wants your money, on the flip side you're the customer who demands 100% reliable, clean power, and wants to pay nothing for it. We have to meet somewhere in the middle.
I just don't understand this "is it fair" point. Is it really fair that somebody is driving a Corvette Z06 or a Tesla while I'm in an 8-year-old Prius (for clarification, I and my family also have a 2011 Nissan LEAF)? Oh, I put the money into PV solar and batteries instead, so I made a choice. Is it a prudent choice? Maybe and maybe not, it depends on your definition of "prudent."
But yes, it is fair to "pass your share for the grid cost on to someone who can't afford solar, or can't get it because they don't own their house." That is because the utility has chosen to do their "simple calculation" and subsidize the true cost of the grid between customers based on their complex calculations, such as some utilities that calculate this based on peak hour usage, and tipping off the large customers when that will be so those customers can cut back for that hour or two. It would be easy to simply add "grid connection fee" on a per kwh basis to everybody's bill.
Look at the rate plan they want to push the PV customers onto, Residential Demand. As they have business customers on demand rates. And yet, what is "fair" about a business or resident whose demand is during off-peak periods? Why should that customer be charged the same demand fee as somebody who is using energy during peak or even overloaded times because they aren't being charged correctly? My demand currently, without any effort as it is a trial period at the moment, is 12kw off-peak, 0kw peak. If people were charged correctly with complex calculations the utilities could dump probably 20% of their infrastructure. But you see, they don't want to do that, because in the great country we live in, utilities are guaranteed a profit
for their efforts. So logically, what incentive do they have but to expend money on nuclear plants they know won't ever come online, knowing that they're covered AND profiting! A sweet deal if you can get it, is it fair that mere citizens can't get such guarantees when they invest?
At least the utility in question is a public utility, while profiting is important, the community has much more of a voice than an investor owned utility where you know the only goal of the business is to take your money. Don't like the politicians interfering, run your self, organize a campaign, do something, if it were a private utility you could send a message to the CEO begging for mercy.
I truly chuckle, but that is because I'm local knowing much more information about the local situation, rather than forming a logical opinion a Lopton has. Just today in the paper, more exposure about how the utility misled the city commission: http://www.theledger.com/article/201502 ... ions&tc=ar
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; It is also the case of the utility and the city taking advantage of those in the county, who are truly powerless to do anything about it, have no vote there, and a state attorney who unfortunately won't hold those city commissioners responsible when they have violated, and admitted it, open meeting laws of Florida.
My two cents.
That used to get me about a kwh of electricity, but if I remain interconnected with my PV they'll kick me off (on 10/1/15) the TOU rate I'm on, directly in contradiction to the federal government's years of stating that utilities should be shifting toward TOU rates. Instead, they'll happily have me, along with everybody else, straining the grid at peak times so they can start the circle of expansion and profits again.