Saturday, January 4, 2014

ALEC, Big Energy Team up to maintain monopolies, fight Consumer Solar Energy Independence.

It would be nice to get ahead of the coming energy fight by revealing why there's a fight in the first place. First up, the groups opposing freedom and energy independence by turning logic upside down; choice pegs you as a "freerider:"
The American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) will promote legislation with goals ranging from penalising individual homeowners-casting them as "freeriders"-and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, which is Barack Obama's main channel for climate action.

Details of Alec's strategy to block clean energy development at every stage – from the individual rooftop to the White House – are revealed as the group gathers for its policy summit in Washington this week. 
Check out the Guardian article here. Second, I had this story in the works just before the Guardian had theirs. From Bloomberg News
Americans are installing solar panels and lowering their cost for energy. But utility companies are not happy, since they’re still working with the old business model that makes them the monopoly.
Here’s how the fight is going between consumers and big energy:
William Walker estimates his bill would have dropped most months to an $18 service charge -- offsetting that $305 loan payment … he figured the (solar) system could pay for itself in as little as five years; his electricity after that would be free.

That is until his utility, a subsidiary of Honolulu-based Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. (HE), told the Walker’s they couldn’t connect their system to the grid. They aren’t alone ... hundreds if not thousands of the state’s residents are being put in solar limbo by a virtual moratorium on new connections. The reason ... circuits may become oversaturated, causing voltage spikes, damaging appliances ... The company needs more time to study the matter.

“Everyone is on board with getting solar and HECO has now put up a wall,” Walker said. “The only thing we can see is profit motivation.”
This is a big fight brought on by progress. Plus, it illustrates how utilities run by private interests instead of government, can block the natural progress of new energy sources:
Spurred by a drop in panel prices (and) robust government subsidies, rooftop photovoltaic solar is bursting out everywhere. About 200,000 U.S. homes and businesses added rooftop solar in the past two years alone. The U.S. set a single-quarter record with 31,000 residential rooftop installations in the three months through Sept. 30. Solar represented 72 percent of all power added in the U.S. in October.
Here's the rub:
Utilities, seeing a threat to about $360 billion a year in power sales ... HECO, despite criticism from Hawaii’s solar industry, denies the moratorium is anything more than an honest effort to address the technical challenges of integrating the solar flooding onto its grid. In California, where solar already powers the equivalent of 626,000 homes, utilities continue to aggressively push for grid fees that would add about $120 a year to rooftop users’ bills and, solar advocates say, slow down solar adoptions.

Similar skirmishes have broken out in as many as a dozen of the 43 states that have adopted net-metering policies as part of their push to promote renewable energy. In Colorado, Xcel Energy Inc. (XEL) has proposed cutting the payments it makes for excess power generated by customers by about half, because it says higher payouts result in an unfair subsidy to solar users.

In Arizona, 1,000 protesters last month swarmed the state capital while local and national solar advocates lobbied against an effort by utility Arizona Public Service to impose a $50 monthly fee on new solar adopters ... after two days of often contentious debate, voted to allow the state’s largest utility to charge customers about $4.90 a month for solar connections after Dec. 31 -- less than 10 percent of what it was asking for. Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity Corp., said it was “crazy for a utility to charge for services they didn’t deliver.
 Representative Cynthia Thielen, a Republican state legislator is more than skeptical. “This is a company with a drenched-in-oil mentality. I look at the company as ultimately becoming obsolete unless it changes its practices.”

A pro-solar group in Georgia consisting of Sierra Club members and Tea Party founders calls itself the Green Tea Coalition. Money poured in to Arizona in the weeks leading up to the November vote by state regulators on the proposed monthly solar charge ... in a radio spot that featured the sound of a trumpeting elephant, the symbol of the Republican party, and called on listeners to prevent APS from “trying to kill energy choice.”

Republican and libertarian support for solar is informed by a “don’t tread on me” response to the utility monopoly system.

Jigar Shah, head of a consulting company and author of “Creating Climate Wealth” ... advice: get with the program, otherwise utilities are simply inviting people to leave the grid. “The utilities are playing this wrong ... It’s not the solar industry that’s the problem -- it’s their refusal to recognize the benefits of new technologies.”

Phil Undercuffler hopes HECO will drive lots of people off the grid. Then he will sell them batteries.
Battery storage is the holy grail of the off-the-grid crowd ... battery storage units sold by Outback Power Inc. ... “You watch, all these installers are going to go to batteries,” said Jeff Davis, a partner in an Oahu company called Kamiyama Solar Electric who is known as the Solar Guy on a local talk radio program. “The utility has opened up the genie bottle.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What they are defending is their "peak Load' quantity. Solar operates most efficiently during the day, the same time as peak load. Peak load is what "base load" generating capacity is based on. This base load can only be turned down so far at times of lower demand, hence we are paying for this excess capacity to be ran into the ground, unused, at night. By lowering peak demand the power companies would also have to lower their base load capacity. Smaller base load means les profits, a smaller industry. The grid certainlt should be able to handle as much power as it was carrying out, in from household solar arrays. This is all about protecting the power companies profits and their shareholders.