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Oklahoma House passes S.B. 1456 - Fee for Solar Owners

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by tigerade, Apr 17, 2014.

  1. tigerade

    tigerade Member

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    Not looking good for OK solar owners:

    Oklahoma Will Charge Customers Who Install Their Own Solar Panels | ThinkProgress

     
  2. RandyS

    RandyS Fan of Elon

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    I find it very interesting that in this entire article that was written to inform the reader about a new fee in Oklahoma that is aimed at solar owners for connecting to the grid, they never SAY WHAT THE FEE IS!??!?! The biggest thing about the article and they leave it out....The only assumption I can make is that it is a low amount and they're just trying to make a big deal about it...
     
  3. tigerade

    tigerade Member

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    From the article:

    The article is not clear right now how high the charge will be, nor outline the process of deciding that.
     
  4. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    Utilities are either going to re-align their capital budgets to put panels on their customer's homes followed up by neighborhood peak generation storage for off peak consumption (batteries) or they are going to fight homeowners (OK AZ and the like). The ones that figure it out and make solar happen will be here in 50 years. The ones that do not, will not.

    Yes, there will be a huge struggle in the interim but the very common sense nature of consuming a limited resource at an unlimited pace dictates that change will occur. I made my living from changes associated with the deregulation of utilities. Some have the ability to recognize change and roll with it. Some never figured it out. You can not save people from themselves.
     
  5. tigerade

    tigerade Member

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  6. Lloyd

    Lloyd Active Member

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    The struggle will be with systems then designed to carry the homeowner OFF GRID. Think Solar City and Tesla batteries. The technology is there, and the economics are almost there. If the fees are too high that will be the result. Will they then tax you to go off grid?
     
  7. RandyS

    RandyS Fan of Elon

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    Tiger, it's no secret that I work for the local utility here...I'm in the Clean Transportation group and not the Net Metering group, but the issue as I understand it is that you have non-solar customers who are paying for energy and transmission/distribution services for grid connection, as well as mandated public purpose programs (such as the low income rate subsidy) solely through their current kWh rate.

    Then you have solar customers who are generating excess power during the day (and being credited for it) and then of course they use power from the grid at night and are billed for that. There are a lot of these customers who end up with a very small or even a slightly negative bill. So they are not paying for T&D or the public purpose portion of the kWh rate that the non-solar customers are paying because they are using less kWh on a net basis. As an example, then, many solar customers are not paying to subsidize mandated public purpose programs such as low income customers, or in some cases are not paying much towards grid upkeep or expansion as compared to non-solar "regular customers" (even though they are using the grid as much as any customer by over generating in the daytime and then using energy at night).

    I try to keep an open and fair mind about the issues, being an engineer, and am fascinated about the solutions being talked about from an engineering point of view that will help deal with managing all of this intermittent power on a power system that was designed for central plants delivering energy downstream to substations and to customers. But the current economics won't work long-term.

    It seems from your comments above that you think monthly grid fees for NEW solar customers are not fair. If it were your decision, what would you do? Anything? Status quo? It's a difficult issue, no question, but it does need some attention...
     
  8. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    RandyS,

    I'm trying to sit down for lunch with the previous head of our utility to try to understand their thinking. This gentleman was brought into steer the ship through deregulation in the 90s and was a creative, if not loved, captain of the ship for many years.

    The utilities are getting peak energy for average energy costs through net metering and yet they want to charge homeowners for using the grid as their battery. Sure, there is some logic to the concept if you take solar to the extreme. By the same token, if you take solar to the extreme and fully comprehend (not saying you do not) the mechanism that will drive grid defection, or at least usage defection assuming the grid is still being used for 24 hour cycle storage, then any competent operations type should be able to see the writing on the wall. There are valid, good, useful, meaningful and proper reasons for grid defection and it should/must be supported. Literally the financial balance for point generating is tipping in front of our eyes.

    What the utilities SHOULD be doing is spending their capital budgets to lease space from their customers and start migrating from point to distributed generation. They can use big data from their net meters to determine when a geographic region can be moved from grid storage to local grid tied storage. This would be much more efficient than single home point storage as you could load balance over a larger population.

    Doing the above puts migrating the utility in lock step with the financial realities of renewable generation, continues the relevancy of the grid and provides a service that is efficient, well managed and cost effective. I will not react well to having to "carry" those that do not have solar and will even go so far as to put a battery in my house and cut the wire if I feel I am being played even if doing so is not cost justified. At the same time, I'll double down in support of using my utility for local off generation storage at an increased cost as long as it is moving towards a solution for the future. Put differently, the economics of point generation are coming out and the utilities are reacting by trying to tax it back into the closet.

    This whole debate is but another example of the influence of a few trying to protect a source of income without adding value. It is another example of a complete failure of leadership. If we are too lazy to do things the right way then we pretty much deserve what we get.
     
  9. GlennAlanBerry

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    As solar PV continues to become more affordable and as batteries also improve and become more affordable, I think that grid-defection is going to become more feasible and popular over time, to the detriment of many utility companies. The utility companies that try to fight this with silly regulations, taxes, and fees are not going to do as well as the forward-looking ones doing what lolachampcar suggests.

    I am building a new all-electric house on a five acre lot, and I am going to start off with a 10KW grid-tied solar PV system. After we have been in the house for a year or so, I hope to add a wind turbine, and get some batteries, and then be actually able to go completely off-grid.

    I really hate my local electric company, Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA), so I cannot wait to be able to do this!
     
  10. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    I don't think so. In that case, there is no cross-subsidy because you (off-grid) are no longer receiving any benefit for which you are not paying.

    - - - Updated - - -

    The rate-case to implement this will be an extremely interesting test case, if properly prosecuted. Some random thoughts, sitting with a pint in Heathrow:

    1. There is no requirement that the charge be greater than zero. If solar advocates can make the case that there is a net benefit from additional solar installations in reducing costs to all customers, then the charge should be set to zero. Arguably, it could be set to a negative value to prevent cross-subsidies from PV households to non-PV households.

    2. There's a "nanny state" problem created by the fact that residential customers don't see the real-time wholesale price. If PV households paid/received the spot price of power, then @lolachampcars points would be directly addressed (namely, that "peak power" during the day is worth more than the same kWh over night). This fact means that PV households are overpaying for power, on average.

    3. On the other hand, a grid-connected PV household is getting more benefits from the grid connection than is directly measured by net usage. I've discussed this before: if I drive across a toll bridge and then return, my "net usage" is zero but I shouldn't be allowed to avoid paying the toll. The utility has real costs of maintaining the distribution and transmission system to support customers even if those customers' PV systems are producing nothing. And they've purchased and maintain a fleet of generation to provide power round-the-clock and to deliver necessary "ancillary services" to stabilize the grid in real time.

    The question boils down to whether the benefits from #2 are greater than the costs of #3. This is an empirical question, very specific to the utility in question.
     
  11. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    A couple of things:
    • To be really Off Grid, it seems to me that the house would have to have it's electric connection removed. Only using it a few times per year still would require all the overhead of the power system to be in place.
    • Can't homeowners with their own solar and wind systems get renewable energy credits to offset some of the grid costs.
    • I don't think the time of day when solar would feed power back into the grid coincides with peak demand. Around here peak demand is in the evening. The grid economics of this are a bit unclear too since solar isn't reliable which means the grid has to have more expensive dispatchable sources ready in case of clouds etc. The question is if the instability introduced by fluctuating solar power makes mid day power more or less expensive.
     
  12. GlennAlanBerry

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    @RDoc Yes, to be really off-grid, there is no connection to the grid whatsoever. In the past, people in remote areas such as the mountains did this because they had no other choice or because it was extremely expensive to have electric lines run to their remote property. In the next few years, it may become economically feasible for more people to do voluntary grid defection.

    My main point, (and future plan) is to have enough solar PV and wind electric generation capability, along with enough local storage capacity to be able to actually go completely off grid, even though I will be in an area where the grid is readily available. I readily admit that this probably won't make economic sense for a while, so my initial motivation is for environmental and self-sufficiency reasons.
     
  13. Brit4864

    Brit4864 Member

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    Exactly. I'm about to have a 10Kw PV grid-tied system installed on my house but if FL goes the way of AZ and OK, depending on how much they would charge, I will cut the connection and go off-grid. In AZ, the utility company wanted as much as $100 pm (the State limited it to $5 pm...for now). I've done a lot of reading lately about this issue and it seems ALEC are behind a lot of these State bills. They're even gone as far to say we solar users (read generators) are "freeriding" the system :confused: :mad: That's quite some weird perverse economic thinking to justify their position. In their universe, it makes perfect sense.

    ALEC calls for penalties on 'freerider' homeowners in assault on clean energy | World news | theguardian.com
     
  14. tigerade

    tigerade Member

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    Well, you are more familiar with how a utility company works then me, but I think their best bet is to get into the solar game instead of fighting it. That's what NRG Energy seems to be doing. And if you think about it, there is really nothing that companies like Solar City are doing that utility companies can't do, solar leases and PPA's aren't really that complex. Another option is having a flat grid fee for all ratepayers, but that is bound to be controversial because those who conserve energy would have an energy bill that's almost the same as those who don't. It also might encourage grid defection. The worst option I think utility companies can do is fight solar directly like they are doing in various states now, trying to impose a special fee on solar owners. Utilities are going to have a hard time arguing that people who produce their own energy should have to pay a special fee that no one else has to pay. Especially with trying to jam the fee through state legislatures, this is likely going to be seen by the public as trying to hold back solar and punish solar owners, which will very likely turn public opinion against utility companies.

    Personally, I would rather that utilities use solar power to their benefit. Apparently solar can reduce the need for peak demand and hold off the need for new infrastructure, which is something that could actually help utilities save money. Maybe even more can be done when energy storage comes into play, which could only be a few years away. I don't claim to have the best answers for this and I agree that this is a complex problem. But I do know that utilities companies should not bury their heads in sand, or label solar owners as "free loaders" and run to legislatures to impose a fee on them. This is just going to cause hostility which I think is unneeded.
     
  15. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    At least in Texas, the power companies have outsourced grid maintenance, so the only maintenance that gets done is when something breaks. This is different from when the regulated power companies upgraded the grid infrastructure on a somewhat regular basis. So the grid is falling apart anyway and power outages are becoming more frequent. The tax seems like just a tax grab.
     
  16. Frankrb

    Frankrb Member

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    I'm a Nevada PV solar owner, who frequently generates more power each month than we consume. When I am a net positive generator, my bill is $10.50. Ten is for the grid service connect fee and the 50 cents is the tax on the service fee. I have no issue with paying $10 a month for grid connection:smile:
     
  17. Beavis

    Beavis Signature 991

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    You go, Glenn! I have had some interesting conversations with IREA about smart meters and why they don't allow net metering with TOU plans. The bottom line is, you live in the wrong service territory if you want your utility to support clean energy. They suck.
     
  18. wycolo

    wycolo Active Member

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    > The struggle will be with systems then designed to carry the homeowner OFF GRID. Think Solar City and Tesla batteries. The technology is there, and the economics are almost there. [Lloyd]

    From out of left field comes a new technology: FLOW STORAGE, that will replace batteries (of any type) with organic-rich liquids which are pumped thru a reactor and stored in tanks. Expectations are that the fluids might be cheap; the tanks certainly are cheap. Put the reactor cost in the unknown column. If the organics can be 'grown' onsite would be a big plus. Also unknown is the voltage range that would be most efficient for the reactor. Lighting, refrigeration, entertainment can function on 12-30 volts but Teslas can't.
    --
     
  19. Merrill

    Merrill Active Member

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    This is just another way to get into our pocket books, when you do a PV system you pay for that and the power companies still charge the transmission and associate fees and that amount is reflected in your total cost. So even if you generate more than you use you have payed for it in some way. It goes back to the same issue as tax collected when you purchase gas to repair the roads, if you do not buy gas they want you to pay a special fee. I do not mind paying the fee to repair the roads if they actually used the money collected to repair the roads!!!!
     
  20. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    Why is it so hard for business to understand that they will do much better if they would just apply the same number of brain cells to adding value instead of extracting it. The only sad thing is that most utilities are so entrenched and co-dependent with those that regulate them that we will share the pain as the dumb ones die off.
     

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