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Earth Power Technology

Oklahoma Moves To Discourage Solar and Wind Power 504

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-needs-the-sun? dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Paul Monies reports at NewsOK that Oklahoma's legislature has passed a bill that allows regulated utilities to apply to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to charge a higher base rate to customers who generate solar and wind energy and send their excess power back into the grid reversing a 1977 law that forbade utilities to charge extra to solar users. 'Renewable energy fed back into the grid is ultimately doing utility companies a service,' says John Aziz. 'Solar generates in the daytime, when demand for electricity is highest, thereby alleviating pressure during peak demand.'

The state's major electric utilities backed the bill but couldn't provide figures on how much customers already using distributed generation are getting subsidized by other customers. Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma have about 1.3 million electric customers in the state. They have about 500 customers using distributed generation. Kathleen O'Shea, OG&E spokeswoman, said few distributed generation customers want to sever their ties to the grid. 'If there's something wrong with their panel or it's really cloudy, they need our electricity, and it's going to be there for them,' O'Shea said. 'We just want to make sure they're paying their fair amount of that maintenance cost.' The prospect of widespread adoption of rooftop solar worries many utilities. A report last year by the industry's research group, the Edison Electric Institute, warns of the risks posed by rooftop solar (PDF). 'When customers have the opportunity to reduce their use of a product or find another provider of such service, utility earnings growth is threatened," the report said. "As this threat to growth becomes more evident, investors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector.''"
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Oklahoma Moves To Discourage Solar and Wind Power

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:37PM (#46809751)

    Why do investors think they are entitled to growth?

    There is a risk to returns. If the investors want no risk then they should get no gains.

    • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:45PM (#46809825)

      I don't know how or where this "grow or die" idea began, but it's just plain wrong. You can't have infinite growth within a finite market.

      • False dilemma (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sjbe (173966) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:32PM (#46810303)

        I don't know how or where this "grow or die" idea began, but it's just plain wrong.

        It's not grow or die. It's grow or lose investors. If I own a company (I'm a shareholder) and want a return on my investment the only way for that to occur is for the company to grow. In fact it has to grow faster than the rate of inflation or I will be losing money. The company has to engage in profitable activities sufficient to generate a return for investors. If the future value of risk adjusted cash flows is lower than another potential investment then the company will lose investors because they will put their money into the other investment.

        You can't have infinite growth within a finite market.

        I've never seen a company experience infinite growth or anything close so that's kind of a meaningless statement. You can however have substantial growth rates for a long time both for a company and for a market. There are companies that have grown by 10%+ per year on average for decades.

        • Re:False dilemma (Score:5, Insightful)

          by kwbauer (1677400) on Monday April 21, 2014 @07:03PM (#46810565)

          Not exactly the only way. If a company is profitable it can always return a portion of that profit to its investors. This is called dividends.

        • Re:False dilemma (Score:5, Informative)

          by polar red (215081) on Tuesday April 22, 2014 @03:08AM (#46813071)

          In fact it has to grow faster than the rate of inflation or I will be losing money.

          BS. the normal, supposed way of gaining money is the dividident, which is being paid to shareholders as a yearly return on their invested money. But currently, people want more and more and more money from their investment, and a way to do that is artificially boosting the price of a share, by hollowing out a company.

        • by gnupun (752725)

          If I own a company (I'm a shareholder) and want a return on my investment the only way for that to occur is for the company to grow.

          Is that really the only way? I think most companies sell products for a decent profit (revenue - employee/material cost). Assuming a modest profit of just 20% and assuming shareholders own 50% of the company, why can't shareholders receive 10% return/year on their shares without it growing. That's not happening because share prices are so high investors barely make 0.1%.

          If the

      • by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:47PM (#46810411)
        The explanation is very simple: debt.
        And unfortunately it is not plain wrong in an economic sense.

        The neo-con ideology which has pervaded most capitalist economies is one of debt fuelled growth. This is across the board including government, business and private household debt. In the US this started in earnest with Regan, in other countries it began when whatever new-breed, neo-con idealist came to power in their country.
        The problem is that these economies are now (metaphorically) "negatively geared". This means that while they are growing and turning a profit they are ok and turn a profit for yourself from other people's money. But when they start to make a loss the losses are exaggerated by the gearing and the economy is in serious trouble.
        e.g. How many times has it been reported around the world that even a flat GDP growth is a major problem and will have serious negative consequences and negative GDP growth will be a utter disaster? Sound like a healthy and robust situation to you?!

        This is where your "grow or die" mentality comes from and it makes perfect economic sense.

        Now everyone in business knows that if the total cost of a project (including interest etc) is less than the profits (after taking risk into account) then the project should usually go ahead. Funding projects with debt and allowing those with capital to benefit from the time value of their money is perfectly sane and sensible and a core part of any healthy economy.

        HOWEVER

        The problem with this mentality as it has been applied across the board (i.e. at a country or global level) in the modern economy is many-fold:

        - The true cost of many projects is simply ignored or left for future generations to deal with. (e.g. pollution, retirement, housing, infrastructure, sustainability)
        - Many of the projects are pork barrel spending and not a net positive at all
        - The true cost of the DEBT itself is ignored. (e.g. The Fed handing out essentially free money to financial institutions and the accumulation overseas debt)
        - The overall impact to the economy of certain projects/decisions is not taken into account. (e.g. job losses, economic stimulus)
        - The positive economic stimulus of a policy/project (e.g. Bush tax cuts) is grossly over estimated.

        This is what has led you to the current situation. The ONLY way out of it is through a painful correction of some sort.
        e.g.
        - Higher taxes of some sort to pay off outstanding debt to bring it to sensible levels
        - Massive reduction in spending (probably not an actual option as the viable cuts would not amount to enough)
        - Create a huge number of new exports that bring in additional money. (again, not really viable since it would probably already have been done if it was)
        - Some other major macro economic change that would destabilise the market in the short/medium term.
        • by AaronW (33736) on Monday April 21, 2014 @09:27PM (#46811671) Homepage

          There is nothing wrong per-se with debt funded growth as long as the risks are properly accounted for. For example, a year ago I bought a new car. While I could have paid cash for it it made much more sense to finance a large part of it since interest rates are so low and invest what was not spent. As long as the investment is beating the low interest rate I'm ahead. Now it's pretty easy to beat a 1.99% interest rate. Now the problem comes if that investment fails and the source of income to pay off that debt fails. In my case my investments are well diversified so even if something like what happened in 2008 occurs I will still be ahead.

          The problem as I see it is when people get too greedy and things get too risky so that everything collapses if things don't go according to plan. I fault that on the loose lending practices of the bankers and the repeal of Glass-Steagall which to this day has not been addressed. It's like what happened in the 1920s where speculators were buying stock on margin with only the stock backing it up. In 2008 it was the same thing but with real estate.

          In the case of the United States, it could start paying down its debt any time it wanted to by raising some taxes, especially on those at the top who are finding good ways to hide their assets in various offshore accounts. Changing how corporations are taxed would also help a lot, especially reducing taxes on the small businesses and closing all the loopholes that large corporations like Apple, GE and Google use to avoid paying taxes. Adding a very small tax to each stock transaction would also go a long way towards adding stability to the markets which are being gamed.

          Social Security could be fixed just by removing the cap, which is basically a tax cut at those earning above the cap.

          Sadly I don't see any progress being made, especially with the republicans who fight tooth and nail over any reforms no matter how badly they're needed.

    • by lgw (121541) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:46PM (#46809851) Journal

      This is the flip-side to regulated utilities. When your profit is determined by the government, you always turn to the government to increase or maintain your profits, which in turn means you become quite expert at that game. [smbc-comics.com]

      I don't object to a fair "base rate" that actually covers the maintenance overhead; seems fair to pay that even if you're a net seller to the utility. This may become another case where the "last mile" maintenance costs should be separated from the "content provider".

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:03PM (#46810005)

        Regulatory capture is a symptom of lack of democracy. The solution isn't to eliminate democracy entirely, but to improve the democratic process.

        The baby-with-the-bathwater reductio is elimination of the entire justice system because some powerful guys are good at manipulating it a bit. And, having been brought up at the tail end of a fascist state, I guarantee that you don't want to live in a country with an impotent judiciary.

      • by mpapet (761907) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:05PM (#46810025) Homepage

        The last time I looked, the flip side to a regulated utility was a deregulated utility. Deregulated utilities end up as monopolies.

        The other last time I looked, business interests of all kinds turn to governments to maintain their profits, and raise barriers to competition. And spare me the "The problem is bad regulation." That's not the problem.

        • by khallow (566160)

          Deregulated utilities end up as monopolies.

          So do regulated utilities. You need some way to distinguish between the two.

          The other last time I looked, business interests of all kinds turn to governments to maintain their profits, and raise barriers to competition.

          So you disagree that there is a stronger incentive to turn to government to enhance your business model when the government is the primary factor determining how profitable you are?

      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:11PM (#46810103)

        I don't object to a fair "base rate" that actually covers the maintenance overhead; seems fair to pay that even if you're a net seller to the utility.

        That much is perfectly fine, but why should a customer who decreases his electricity consumption by, say, 5 kWh per day by means of installing solar batteries be treated differently than a customer who decreases his electricity consumption by 5 kWh per day by means of buying more energy-saving home appliances?

        • by lgw (121541)

          Well, charging different customer differing base rates doesn't sound fair to me, unless there's legitimately some significant infrastructure build-out cost the utility faces to support net power generation at the endpoints (no clue if that's so).

      • Why do you say regulatory capture? With the exception of nuclear power, I don’t see a lot of regulatory capture in the electric market. Regulatory capture normally happens when the regulations are narrow and complex. Most of the current issues surrounding electric generation tend to be old, well settled issues, which results in open debate – or at least where I live.

      • by hey! (33014)

        This is the flip-side to regulated utilities. When your profit is determined by the government, you always turn to the government to increase or maintain your profits, which in turn means you become quite expert at that game. [smbc-comics.com]

        Which is not a problem, if the legislators, governor and regulators are working for the public. The public needs a grid and base generation capability, and the utility is guaranteed a safe and reasonable profit if it provides these things.

        • by lgw (121541)

          If the utility gets a better return from optimizing their lobbying than their infrastructure, that's a problem. People respond to incentives. People need a communications infrastructure maintained too, but that doesn't excuse Comcast.

    • by alexander_686 (957440) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:56PM (#46809941)

      Because their profits are (kind of) regulated.

      Electric Utilities are heavily regulated. I am not sure about Oklahoma, but in many states the rate that utilities can charge is tied back to the cost of electric production, Since electric production tends to be capital intensive, that means their cost of capital, and that ties back to the health of the utilities earnings, both in terms of growth and stability (i.e. risk).

      Feeding electricity back into the grid is not a free lunch for the utilities – there are costs involved. (and I am sure that electric utilities will whine loudly in an exaggerated fashion as they fight a rearguard action.)

    • by SumDog (466607)

      People are afraid of deflation, layoffs, reduction in force, etc. But it's sad because it's a failure to realize sometimes that maybe technology has brought us to the point where we don't need those jobs. We could staff fewer people and pay them all more and free up other people for more interesting jobs. I mean really, we should have a TON more robots right now.

      But we have this feeling everyone has to work; you gotta do what you gotta do and all that bullshit. So we pay people less, work them more and peop

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Capitalism is a failure.

        Correction: Crony capitalism is a failure. Finest example of this is in Germany and Ontario with "Feed in Tariffs" for all the "green energy producers" where we pay excessively high prices including to pay them to not to produce energy. And that can be as much as $0.70/KwH.

      • by OneAhead (1495535)
        There's an interesting point there. I wouldn't necessarily go as far as saying Capitalism is a failure, but that automation of physical and mental tasks (coupled with hitting the limits on exploitation of natural resources) present a change in the playing field that will require thorough revisions of the game. We probably can keep some form of Capitalism, but in the shape of a social democracy, like present-day Norway - likely even more radical. To the Americans among us who haven't shed the cold-war brainw
  • Peak During the Day? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:39PM (#46809761)

    Obviously this varies from region to region, but I was always led to understand that in hot locales, peak was late afternoon, when houses began to cool down, and businesses were still cooling. ...part of the reason why large solar plants are moving to molten salt -- to keep providing power in the early evening when the sun isn't directly overhead.

    • by oneiros27 (46144) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:55PM (#46809927) Homepage

      Afternoon is still considered 'day' by most people, if you're in an area where the sun hasn't set yet.

      Of course, that assumes summer time -- if you're in an area where many people rely on electicity for heating, in the winter the peak may be closer to sunrise. (with a second peak in the evening, as people get home & heat their homes & start cooking).

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        Even in your example, my point remains.

        The times when residential solar systems are generating the sort of power that they can sell back to the grid -- they're the times that the grid (generally) needs it the least.

        Oklahoma is a *highly* coal and gas fired grid, so you'd think any semi-predictable amount of residential solar overflow would help. *shrug*

        • 'selling it back to the grid' isn't the point. Lets say I'm using 2KW (don't nit pick my numbers I'm not an electrician :) ) and I have a 1 KW array on my roof. Even if I'm only getting 50-70% of that 1KW due to being in the afternoon, I'm still drawing that much less from the grid and thus the grid is less taxed because of my solar array.
          • by mythosaz (572040)

            You and I have more power available to us at peak because our solar/wind neighbor is only drawing half of peak. "The Grid" is healthier. I agree 100%.

            ...but that's not my point.

            My point is only that excess residential solar has little value, since it's generated when it's least needed. [Because if it was needed, houses wouldn't be generating extra.]

    • Uh...you reorient the solar panels? (If you don't have solar trackers already, that is.)
      • by mythosaz (572040)

        I'll just install a lazy susan on my house...

        Point is, solar is most efficient at times when the grid least needs the electricity from it. [Obviously, since the times residential systems have excess is when residential electricity demand is low.] If everyone had a solar system that produced more than it needed at peak input, there'd never be anyone to sell the excess to.

        • Solar is most efficient when the grid needs the electricity 'the least'? So when it's night time?

          Solar may peak at the top of the Sun's path, but it still provides plenty of juice for hours afterwards...when the grid is specifically taxed quite hard.

          Go outside at 2-3pm on a hot sunny day...it's still pretty damned strong.
    • by thaylin (555395)
      Having worked for progress enery before duke bought them, I can tell you this is what they tell you in the training. There are 2 peak usages, one when people are waking up and turning lights/coffee makers on, and one when people get home and turn their AC on.
      • I'd guess most people run the AC all day no? I'm in DC and not running it during the day would suuuuuuuck coming home in the summer. Granted, programmable thermostats are making headway but I wouldn't think they'd even have 25% market yet. Even then, it's only a reduced usage, not off. Also related to computers firing up, TVs, ovens etc. We use LOTS more electricity than we used to :)
    • With Daylight Savings Time, much of that 'afternoon' is still plenty well lit.
  • Suck It Up! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:41PM (#46809783)

    'When customers have the opportunity to reduce their use of a product or find another provider of such service, utility earnings growth is threatened," the report said. "As this threat to growth becomes more evident, investors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector.''

    Suck it up princess!

    I know you're going to fight tooth and nail to get legislators to protect your business model but the writing is on the wall. Feel free to look up buggy whip manufacturers if you want to see how this story is going to end in the long run.

    Oh, and if you think we, the public, are going to feel any sympathy for you as your business model gets replaced by newer and better technology, trust me when I say you're wrong. No sympathy. Adapt or die.

    I know you think legislate or die are the options on the table but I assure you, it's adapt or die.

    • Re:Suck It Up! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:47PM (#46809855)

      Or, in Star Trek words...

      We, the collective, believe your technology is not even worthy of being considered. You will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kwiecmmm (1527631)

      And I am sure that that some tax breaks or subsidies helped them get their grid up to begin with.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      BTW, similar trick was pulled off successfully in Spain, where the Sun is shining most of the year.
      Solar power gets taxed more and you will be fined 30K EUR, if you do not comply.

    • You obviously are not familiar with Oklahoma.

      Oklahoma is a firm Republic state, and past experience tells me this will be legislated.

    • I havn't done any buggy whip research, but I assume they shifted focus and moved from making whips for horses into S&M whips. I bet they loved what that 50 shades of grey book did for their sales.

    • Re:Suck It Up! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NoKaOi (1415755) on Monday April 21, 2014 @07:04PM (#46810589)

      It is the utility company's responsibility to gain as much profit for their shareholders as they can. Since it's a monopoly, it's the government's responsibility to keep them in check. The problem is that the utility is succeeding at their responsibility to their shareholders, but the government is failing at its responsibility to its citizens. People always point out how evil the utility company is but fail to point out that the government who is supposed to be regulating them is who is truly evil.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:49PM (#46809873)

    If you take off your "Electric Companies are TEH EVIL" hat for a second, it's pretty interesting that they have the same issue that states do with paying for roads in relation to electric cars. That is, someone generating electricity or using an electric car is making use of a resource where the cost of access is subsidized by something you are no longer consuming.

    I think the electric companies have a pretty good point that they still have to pay to maintain lines to your house even though you are now consuming a fraction of what you would have.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:10PM (#46810087)

      Exactly this. They shouldn't charge solar customers a higher base rate, they should make the pricing more transparent. Charge everybody a monthly connection fee. That goes to maintain the lines. Then you charge for electricity consumed by their plant. They have two businesses going, generation and distribution. Their pricing should reflect that.

      • by bobbied (2522392)

        Further, they should go to charge you based on "time of use" for that Kw/H.

        Personally, I think the electric company should *pay* (at a discount) the Solar customer for each Kw/H the customer provides based on their current cost on the wholesale market and not pay at the customer's current retail price. Yes, customers may get more or less than they pay depending on when the power is supplied to the grid, but this would more closely reflect the utilities actual costs and benefits.

      • by blindseer (891256)

        Exactly. That is how I pay for my natural gas, a monthly service fee and charges for BTUs consumed. In the summer my service fee is typically more than my charges for the fuel but in the winter the fees are a fraction of the total bill.

        I have no problem with having to pay for the utility to maintain the connection to the service separately to the services provided. If these people want to have the utility buy their power then someone has to pay for the connection. One might assume the utility should pay

    • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:10PM (#46810089)

      I think the electric companies have a pretty good point that they still have to pay to maintain lines to your house even though you are now consuming a fraction of what you would have.

      I don't know about Oklahoma, but my bill is split into two parts: a fixed per-day customer charge, plus a separate charge per kWh. Presumably, the charge per day covers the lines and administrative overhead. (The per-kWh charge is further divided into separate fuel and generation charges, and the fuel rate changes frequently.)

      If Oklahoma uses this system, then the utility is being fairly compensated for the power lines no matter how little electricity the customer actually buys.

      • by tompaulco (629533)

        If Oklahoma uses this system, then the utility is being fairly compensated for the power lines no matter how little electricity the customer actually buys.

        OG&E certainly does not do this, but that would certainly be a fair way to do it. Of course, then you run the risk of pissing people off with your complicated and proliferous line item charges,

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >I think the electric companies have a pretty good point that they still have to pay to maintain lines to your house even though you are now consuming a fraction of what you would have.

      Which is why I, as a solar customer, pay $12 a month to PG&E to maintain the grid.

      It's interesting that OK thinks that it's OK to change solar customers higher *power rates* instead. This means that it will penalize people for having smaller solar installations, and still not recover any extra tariffs from large instal

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:49PM (#46809879) Journal
    This seems like the sort of problem that could be much more logically and less painfully solved by breaking out the (more or less constant, at least within a given size class and geographic area) grid hookup cost and the per-KW/h price for electricity as separate items on the bill.

    Infrastructure doesn't build and maintain itself, so if you want to maintain your connection, it's only logical that you'll pay something for that. If you try to bundle the distribution costs into the energy cost, though, you just get a bit of a mess since the amount a given person is paying for infrastructure can vary wildly and you end up having to field requests like this. Even here, they make a somewhat arbitrary distinction between users who do feed to the grid and those who don't (who presumably also use less power but just aren't easy to identify). Just break out the two items and call it a day.
  • Koch Brothers (Score:5, Informative)

    by hondo77 (324058) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:59PM (#46809967) Homepage
    Perhaps this is all a part of the vast right-wing conspiracy against green energy [salon.com]. Can't let the hippies win!
    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      Perhaps this is all a part of the vast right-wing conspiracy against green energy [salon.com]. Can't let the hippies win!

      Nice to see someone at least trying to look past the smokescreen.

      This was a law pushed on us [digitaljournal.com] by the corporate right-wing legislation factory ALEC. Actually, "pushed" is a bit strong. It would probably be more accurate to say the Oklahoma legislature goes to ALEC and asks, "what laws would you like us to pass today"?

      Those of you who've been here a few years know the drill with ALEC: their avowed reasons for a law are almost always a cover, so arguing over the validity of their reasoning is pointless. The r

  • by haruchai (17472) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:00PM (#46809983)

    Oklahoma has some fantastic wind & solar resources and adjoins the Texas Panhandle where there are many wind turbines and therefore a reasonable transmission infrastructure.
    Even if they didn't need the wind & solar, Texas can make very good use of it. They should be investing in those resources and they could probably get Texas to pay for a big chunk of it.

    • by haruchai (17472)

      Meant to say "investing much more heavily in those resources and streamlining the process instead of introducing more obstacles"

    • by RevWaldo (1186281)

      Oklahoma has some fantastic wind & solar resources

      Especially when the wind comes sweepin' down the plain. Plen'y of air and plen'y of room, plen'y of room to swing a rope! Plen'y of heart and plen'y of hope!

      .

  • by organgtool (966989) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:10PM (#46810093)

    As this threat to growth becomes more evident, investors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector.

    It's about time that power companies realize that their most important goal is not in providing customers with a quality source of electricity, but in making investors as much money as possible.

  • "The state's major electric utilities backed the bill but couldn't provide figures on how much customers already using distributed generation are getting subsidized by other customers"

    How does generating your own electricity subsidize other customers? Isn't this just a way of the utilities to gouge more revenue out of people who use less of their expencive electricity.
    • I guess if you generate more than what you consume, you pay nothing. You pay nothing towards the maintenance of the power grid but enjoy the benefit of effectively using it as a battery of infinite capacity. The utilities still need to provision capacity for your peak demand, when the sun goes down and you turn on your oven, stove, hot water cylinder and electric heating all at once in winter, pulling up to 10kW, the same time as everyone else in your area.

      • "I guess if you generate more than what you consume, you pay nothing" ..

        And this electricity is fed back into the grid and being sold on to the other consumers. I just wonder what bull session came up with the idea that generating electricity was the same as consuming other peoples electricity.
  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:21PM (#46810215)

    Do Oklahoma power companies not charge separately for connectivity and power consumption?

    I thought it was common sense to be charged a fixed daily rate and an additional rate per kWh.
    The fixed rate is supposed to pay for transmission lines, maintenance, billing, customer support etc. The kWh rate pays for generation.

    • by Teun (17872)
      Over my way in Europe there's even a legally mandated split between power generators and power grid providers.

      You do get only billed by the power generator but the distribution part is a separate charge.

  • Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday April 21, 2014 @09:32PM (#46811709)

    This is a higher BASE rate. Not what they get charged for power. Since the customers are generating power and possibly even getting paid by the power company to do so, they are paying far less than most of us. But they still use the most expensive part of the utility, the lines. Green energy doesn't make power lines any cheaper.

    When customers give power back, often the utility is required to pay them for that power. But wind and solar do not provide power to the grid continuously. When the wind picks up or the sun is out, suddenly all these people are providing power at the same time... and not when the power company needs it. The power companies methods of generating power do not ramp up or down easily. For example, coal burning plants operate very inefficiently when they are not running at full capacity. So every watt contributed by wind and solar actually make a coal plant even less efficient.

    Shit like this is what will sink green energy. Turn it into a subsidy like Ethanol and it'll never get anywhere.

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