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Philosophical questions that highlight how absurd a fee on self-generation is.

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by nwdiver, Feb 10, 2016.

  1. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    If I bypass my Production Meter... is that stealing? Who am I stealing from?

    If there's a power outage... do I still have to pay for the solar energy that I produce?


    This nonsense has got to stop.
     
  2. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    #2 markwj, Feb 10, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    Here's their side of the argument:

    Changes to solar pricing




    So they are saying that the cost of the grid is bundled into the pricing when you buy electricity, but not when you sell.

    So, what is the difference in buy/sell price?
     
  3. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    Right... key phrase there is 'pay for use of the grid'. I support that 110%. Charging a fee for self-generation IS NOT 'paying for use of the grid'.... that's charging a fee for self-generation.

    A fee for self-generation doesn't encourage storing power when it's abundant and using that stored energy later during peak demand to help the grid... as referenced in the video.

    A fee for using the grid is fine.

    A fee for self-generation is self-defeating, absurd and should really be illegal.
     
  4. renim

    renim Member

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    I think you're arguing linguistic semantics.

    Everyone should be free to severe ties with the grid, but to stay connected to grid does result in costs, self generation does result in costs for the wider community unless it is disconnected from the grid.

    whether the value assigned to the costs are reasonable is a different matter.

    I grow mangos, when I harvest my mangoes is typically when they are cheapest at the local fruit and vege shop:eek: Same happens with some of my vegetables also (bitter melon). My solar gets me a great feed in tariff rate, but lets be honest, I get to use the local grid for free (local grid for me is from the local transformer, and power poles up to my house and neighbours) It does take some cost for the entity that does my billing to understand and credit my generation of solar power.
     
  5. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    ????? Who's is talking about using the grid for free? If I want 20kW available at a moments notice... fine... charge me a demand fee based on that. If I want to export a MWh then import it later... fine... charge me a fee for that.

    Where's the logic in charging me for a kWh that comes off my array and gets consumed immediately on my side of the meter? If I were to bypass that meter to charge my car am I stealing? If I were to use my solar panels when the grid is down should I pay the utility for that? It's absurd.
     
  6. qwk

    qwk Model S P2681

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    I think the previous poster meant that by being connected to a certain company's grid, forces you to play by their rules(no matter how monopolistic or unfair they are). If you don't like their fees, go off grid.
     
  7. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    The difference is, you try to sell your mangoes at the same time as everyone else, so it's natural that you can't get the best price. But with electricity, you are trying to sell it when it's in the most demand, and yet somehow you still can't get a good price. In fact, you often can't get as good a price for it as the coal plant down the road is getting for theirs at the same moment (or at least that's how it works around here)

    - - - Updated - - -

    And that is what is going to force people off-grid in the long term, which is actually bad for everyone, but that's what's going to end up happening simply because the monopolistic utilities don't get that they can only squeeze so far.
     
  8. qwk

    qwk Model S P2681

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    Agreed. This is actually very similar to what Tesla is doing in respect to owners not being able to get parts, and work on their cars. Hacking is becoming commonplace, and in the end will generate aftermarket support, which has the opposite effect that Tesla was going for.
     
  9. Cebe

    Cebe Member

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    Why would the utility even know if you're generating electricity and using it without being plugged into the grid at all? Don't sign a deal to sell any of your electricity back to them, and, philosophically speaking, I'd say you're good. The minute you expect them to take any excess from off your hands, no questions asked, for a fixed price, I'd say they, philosophically, have the right to demand something in return.
     
  10. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    +1; They're called PUBLIC utilities for a reason. They need to start acting like it. If the DOT started delivering packages and charging UPS and Fedex onerous fees (not simply usage fees) intended to place them at a disadvantage I'm pretty sure most people would see that as wrong. The solution wouldn't be for UPS and Fedex to stop using roads... the solution here is not to go off-grid. Time to fix the system.
     
  11. qwk

    qwk Model S P2681

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    A lot of utilities are not public, and they own their grid. Kind of like toll roads would be, if used in your example. They are for-profit, but are regulated by the government.
     
  12. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    I think you'll find they're usually regulated by people who are rather tight with the industry itself, in fact often either coming from, or going to, high paid jobs at the utility they're supposed to be regulating.
     
  13. beeeerock

    beeeerock Active Member

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    It IS absurd. If there is a grid cost, then determine that value and add it to the incoming power and charge it to the exported power. Essentially taxing all the power you produce, whether you export it or not, seems entirely unreasonable.
     
  14. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    Seems to me that if they want to charge a 'generation' fee to self-generators for the use of the grid, that same fee should be applied to all generators. But, that would drastically affect their relationships with other power providers and inter-connection arrangements they have. Applying this to just one generator (self-generators) seems to contradict their argument.

    It seems better to apply this as a margin between buy/sell price. But, without a premium on clean vs dirty electricity generation (carbon tax, etc), even that is not equitable.

    +1 agreed. With Tesla Power Wall, and other off-grid storage systems, if I was a utility I would be terrified. Better to support self-generation with a workable scheme, than force them off-grid.
     
  15. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    They are scared, we've already seen them working with law-makers in certain locations to make it mandatory that you stay on grid, or the house can be condemned!
     
  16. vdiv

    vdiv Chief Grump

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    If you can't beat them, join them. Applies to car makers refusing to produce EVs, applies to taxi cabs, applies to the power utilities as well. Have to innovate and have to embrace change.

    Should utilities charge both electricity generators and consumers for the use of the grid? Yes, both need it.
     
  17. 3mp_kwh

    3mp_kwh Member

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    #17 3mp_kwh, Feb 11, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
    That's exactly what SRP did, in its solar rate design. A demand charge, and it won't be the last. It's how punitive they were in double-whamming users with ~$20 base rate upcharges and then triple-whamming with reduced Net Metered rates, down to the rate they buy from solar farms ($.06/kwh). All that stood out in what, as an analyst, I still would treat as the model example of the opposite extreme. There's too lavish, in solar, and then there's SRP. Here's some text, on the model fixed (Grid) costs, versus variable cost argument that has started showing up as a pretense to drill-out grid solar:

    From SRP:
    “Electric utilities face two types of costs: fixed and variable. Fixed costs are costs that are incurred irrespective of customer energy usage (kilowatt-hour usage) and which are necessary to make a safe and reliable grid possible. Examples of fixed costs are generating unit capacity, transmission lines, certain distribution system components and costs associated with providing customer service, metering, billing and payment processing. Variable costs are associated with the actual electricity that is supplied to customers, which is measured by the customer’s meter. Examples of variable costs are fuel and purchased power charges.”

    When I modeled costs, for a ~30kwh/day consumer that had enough solar to net zero consumption, I arrived at a monthly bill of $130, versus about $160 for all-consumption on the base rate plan. Keep in mind, if anyone thinks what SRP is doing is fair, there is no default time of use peak punishment in SRP's base rates. The guy cranking his A/C, at 4PM, is paying the same rate he would at 4AM. What is hugely important is attributing this fixed cost BS onto the user responsible for pushing the peak, not the solar home. That's what calls for the next plant. Moody's neglected this reality and was totally on board with this rate plan. Honestly, it keeps up the good times when another fossil plant is justified, and bonds and fees become necessary.

    At the end of the day, numbers close to the ones I get from looking at SRP show unfair retribution in the days of "beyond solar cap" net metering. Some in the U.S. pay $0, or get paid for being net zero (MA SRECs). I'm not on board with that, long term. Whether called nwdiver's charge for "self-generation", or anything else that can produce bills as high as those faced in Arizona, you can see the retail stationary storage market becoming more economic, and, frankly, more desirable even if its not.

    It's a huge assumption, on the part of both utilities and environmental regulators, that you can be passed costs for things like the next plant, or decoupling. It's hard to justify off-grid, on AZ rates, but pretty soon the bears aren't going to like they way they're being poked.
     
  18. beeeerock

    beeeerock Active Member

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    Absolutely. I would probably buck up for a Powerwall just to spite the utility, if I was looking at unfair economics. Extrapolate that over the masses and the utility's plans could backfire. If half their customers had solar and storage, what would happen to their business model then? Interesting to ponder. They seem to be behaving in a manner that might work if home solar was just an inconvenience, not likely to gain traction... but it's growing and will continue to grow. Better to get out ahead of the problem and design a fair solution, than try to save face later.
     
  19. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    Well, we know that the whole pricing model needs to change, but ...

    The Solar industry want to keep net metering, so they won't ask for it.
    Environmentalists want to keep net metering, so they won't ask for it.
    Liberal politicians like subsidizing people on low and fixed incomes, so they won't ask for it.
    Utilities like the ability to hide costs in per-kWh pricing, so they won't ask for it.
    Bought politicians like the money lobbyists are giving them, so they won't ask for it.

    If you want the pricing to change you'll have to find some unbought moderates or right-wingers and get them excited enough about the issue to push for change.
     
  20. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    That's easy, they'd move more of the charges to administration, distribution, rate riders, etc, and less of it on the actual electricity. That way anyone who ever needs even a single Wh of electricity needs to pay almost as much as they do now, and at the same time they get to brag about how low their rates are (see power companies in Alberta for an example, I officially pay $0.07/kwh, and yet that only explains a small fraction of my bill. I could add all the solar I want, but unless I go completely off grid, I still pay most of the cost of the electricity as if I were still using it.
     

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