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Thu Jul 11, 2013, 11:00 AM

An Epic Battle Between Solar Firms and Power Utilities Could Leave One Side Unplugged

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2013-07-11/news/an-epic-battle-between-solar-firms-and-power-utilities-could-leave-one-side-unplugged/

The nonprofit company, which manages bowling alleys and seven recreation centers in the politically powerful Phoenix-area retirement community, has a large solar-panel project going up at its facilities.

<snip>

"The anticipated savings is about $15 million," Higgins says from the lobby of RSCS' corporate office at Lakeview. She adds that the electricity generated from the photovoltaic panels could power an estimated 347 homes.

<snip>

Rooftop solar is a no-brainer to power utilities like APS, too.

They say they're getting screwed in deals like these.

<more>

21 replies, 2313 views

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Reply An Epic Battle Between Solar Firms and Power Utilities Could Leave One Side Unplugged (Original post)
jpak Jul 2013 OP
Sentath Jul 2013 #1
msongs Jul 2013 #2
wtmusic Jul 2013 #3
cprise Jul 2013 #6
wtmusic Jul 2013 #7
cprise Jul 2013 #11
wtmusic Jul 2013 #12
cprise Jul 2013 #14
wtmusic Jul 2013 #16
cprise Jul 2013 #18
wtmusic Jul 2013 #20
quadrature Jul 2013 #4
kristopher Jul 2013 #5
quadrature Jul 2013 #9
kristopher Jul 2013 #10
wtmusic Jul 2013 #13
cprise Jul 2013 #15
wtmusic Jul 2013 #17
cprise Jul 2013 #19
wtmusic Jul 2013 #21
madokie Jul 2013 #8

Response to jpak (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 11:13 AM

1. New to the Phx area and very interested in solar

So this is a very interesting article to me.

I think I'll go make an OP in the AZ group....

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 01:04 PM

2. electric companies are only interested in profits for themselves, everything else is just BS nt

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 03:06 PM

3. And one side will have power all night long.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #3)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 05:26 PM

6. Utilities will have 'overnight' profit margins all day long,

bless their microscopic hearts.

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Response to cprise (Reply #6)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 07:22 PM

7. You're a small government, free-enterprise type, aren't you.

Since utilities are the most highly-regulated industry in the country, you'd prefer to make your own energy and profit off people who can't afford to.

You and Enron...touches my heart.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #7)

Sat Jul 13, 2013, 01:04 AM

11. No, but I could just as easily say

...you're against shifting some of the power to the middle class.

And that's what is truly worrying about your take on environment and power issues, the lack of class consciousness and the facile attitude toward centralized power structures that set the stage for excessive security mandates.

It seems the sector most steeped in regulations feels the most entitled to flout them and to undertake regulatory capture.

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Response to cprise (Reply #11)

Sat Jul 13, 2013, 12:32 PM

12. If you're shifting from the lower class to the middle, I'd say yes

and it's all about class-consciousness. So why you chose to snatch that insult from the air, I have no idea.

"Centralized power structures" like...government? "Excessive security mandates" like..the ones required to get a nuclear plant permitted?

"It seems the sector most steeped in regulations feels the most entitled to flout them and to undertake regulatory capture."...just for fun, let's apply that statement to the financial industry and see how odious it sounds.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #12)

Sun Jul 14, 2013, 03:45 AM

14. That's inane

How does wind and solar shift power away from the lower class, especially as opposed to nuclear?

And why would centralized power, in the age of corporatism and globalization, necessarily mean big government? Well, other than an expansion of police powers...

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Response to cprise (Reply #14)

Sun Jul 14, 2013, 10:49 AM

16. Easy

You set up a solar array on your roof, subsidized by everyone - rich and poor alike.

While you kick back energy into the system, and are paid for it, the utility still has to maintain its generation capability. Since you're sucking their profits (or "decentralizing", as you frame it) they have to raise their rates. The poor have to pay disproportionately not only for their own electricity but to be able to back up your little privatized paradise when the sun goes down, or it goes on the fritz.

Not that hard to understand.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #16)

Sun Jul 14, 2013, 02:22 PM

18. Nothing in a govt budget is subsidized by "rich and poor alike"

...unless you intend regressive taxation.

OTOH, the poor and everyone else get what is on balance a rate cut as the supply for expensive peak hours is loosened up by solar. I don't believe the anti-solar folks have run a comprehensive analysis of their own on this, and perhaps you've ignored the posts here on this subject. It utilities want to break out fees for grid maintenance, that's fine, but by the same logic solar generators will want a discount if/when their distribution results in reduced need for transmission.

Storage will be an added expense for sure, but that's no reason to stop solar + wind investment now.

...your little privatized paradise...

That's cute coming from someone who not only refuses to acknowledge that a large chunk of solar is on government buildings or utility-owned, but who also makes scarcely a peep about the business culture of the essentially private US nuclear industry (which belies your posturing).

Perhaps a surge in socialist politics can rescue your vision of a nuclear future; I can't think of another way the US can become like France. Its more likely you will continue to see wind + solar surge instead. And as for France and the rest of the planet, I encourage them to increase public ownership or co-determination of wind, solar and other renewables, from manufacture to energy production.

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Response to cprise (Reply #18)

Sun Jul 14, 2013, 04:39 PM

20. Peak usage is around 8:00 PM and for most of the year

and the sun is below the horizon at that time, so solar does little to address peak.

The costs are for not only grid maintenance but to keep utilities ready to generate power when it's dark. That means keeping a plant functional, staffed, and maintaining generating equipment. If people were charged for what it truly costs to integrate their net-metered energy into the grid they would probably find themselves paying more than they were before panels, simply due to economies of scale.

I know you see "the nuclear industry" as one big boogeyman, but I really have no idea to whom you're referring. Utilities with nuclear plants? Nuclear equipment manufacturers? Nuclear fuel providers? Companies with "nuclear" in their name?

There is no way, shape, or form that independent operators can reduce the costs for utilities by breaking up service areas into bite-size chunks, any more than you can improve police protection by breaking up departments into privately-owned outsourced companies, or hand out school vouchers to improve education.
This is Tea Party territory that's not even worth venturing into.

And yes the poor do pay a disproportionate share of taxes, but acknowledging that only increases the burden.

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 08:06 PM

4. you cant go into a grocery store ...

 

and expect the store to buy
your produce at the retail price.
life does not work that way

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Response to quadrature (Reply #4)

Thu Jul 11, 2013, 08:26 PM

5. That's a horrible analogy

All wholesale power isn't priced the same. Solar services a high-value segment of the wholesale market where the normal WHOLESALE price is usually well ABOVE the averaged price of all sources that constitutes the retail price.

Every day as the world begins to go about its business, the demand for power rises from its nighttime lows. The generators that service that demand cost about the same as other generators, but they are used much less than the "baseload" generators that are kept running at night. This means they have to spread all of their costs over a much smaller amount of electricity sales. That, in turn, means that the price per kilowatt hour of electricity from these part-time generators is higher than those that run all the time - usually several multiples at the very least.

The utilities are getting a bargain buying rooftop solar at the cost of retail because it avoids the cost of buying electricity from those part time generators.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #5)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 08:25 PM

9. perhaps somebody could post the price schedule ...

 

and the other terms of the contract,
that we are trying to discuss here.

without those numbers,
this thread is just hot air

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Response to quadrature (Reply #9)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 09:11 PM

10. Your contribution could change that

Why don't you do some research, find the information you think it relevant, and post it instead of the usual 4 lines of syncopated prose?

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Response to quadrature (Reply #4)

Sat Jul 13, 2013, 12:35 PM

13. Nice analogy.

At least capitalism doesn't work that way. I think we went through this whole experiment a generation ago.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #13)

Sun Jul 14, 2013, 03:46 AM

15. Bad analogy-- there is no monopoly aspect to a grocery store. n/t

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Response to cprise (Reply #15)

Sun Jul 14, 2013, 10:53 AM

17. The monopoly is irrelevant

Both entities have made a substantial investment to get their product to you. There is absolutely nothing obligating either to buy your product to sell to other customers, especially when they would make no profit on yours.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #17)

Sun Jul 14, 2013, 03:21 PM

19. The monopoly is always relevant

Geographic monopoly status literally redefines a private investment into a "public" investment in most cases. It doesn't matter if the owners are public or private, so long as people are forced to go through the monopolist to access a product or service deemed a a necessity or 'public good'. Typically the public also foots a large amount of the upfront costs.

The public made that investment collectively.

The more mercenary corners of Finance no longer agree with these progressive terms, but industry traditionally has accepted them.

You keep implying that you're some kind of advocate for public enterprise in the public interest, but I don't think you know what you're talking about. Its just a canard you superficially adopted to smear distributed power generation as socially regressive.

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Response to cprise (Reply #19)

Sun Jul 14, 2013, 04:49 PM

21. I'm an advocate for government doing what it does best

which is provide services that everyone needs, at a volume discount, with a fundamental amount of fairness, and subject to public review and regulation.

Utilities have always been an uneasy mixture of a socialist/capitalist enterprise, but over the long term have been a fantastic success. In the 1880s during the War of Currents between Edison/Westinghouse there were no standardized plugs, voltages, wiring, bulbs, anything. There were also a lot of fires and outages, and if you want to time travel back to that day dumping utilities would be about the fastest way. They were created to solve that problem.

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2013, 08:11 PM

8. The VA hospital where I go

put covers over their parking and covered them with solar panel. As well as the roof of the hospital too.
In reading about it I seen where they said they expect a savings of 50,000 dollars a year in electrical cost.
I'm hoping that this covered parking will get the attention of the big box stores and malls. I know if I could park in the shade I'd spend my dollars in that store without a doubt.

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