Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Um, Wat?

#1 Blogdaughter sends in a story that, surprisingly, is not from Massachusetts.

Oklahoma may charge customers who install their own solar panels, wind turbines
Oklahoma residents trying to go green by producing energy through solar panels or small turbines may soon be forced to pay an additional monthly fee to energy companies.

The new measure, which passed the state legislature and is expected to be signed into law soon by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, charges residents who install energy-saving devices on their property an additional monthly fee.
Um, what the bloody hell? It apparently boils down to "net metering," where excess electricity generated by these solar panels and wind turbines is sold to the electric companies to be in turn sold to other electric customers.

Any bets on whether the fee to the solar and wind power customers is equal to or greater than the kickback they get?

Apparently this is nice and legal, as it appears to be going through without much incident. It does seem rather ironic, though, given how much lip service is given to people "going green" and looking for alternative sources of energy. Granted, the article doesn't really provide much in the way of concrete information, so I guess it's possible that the energy companies need to do *something* to the alternate energy when it enters the grid.

Or, more likely, they're trying to use the bully pulpit of government to stop competition...

That is all.


Roberta X said...

Nope, this is BS -- you are *required* to synchronize your AC power to the power company's, in order to even be able to sell your excess to them. Not sure how costly the sync box is but it's not a trivial job. It's also lossy; a lot of solar users run low-voltage DC systems and a sync-able inverter that puts out 240 VAC is going to use up a lot of power in the process.

There is already a long time before a home wind/solar system makes back its installation cost. This makes it even longer. It's a deliberate disincentive.

PhilaBOR said...

worked in manufacturing for 33 years. You have thousands of individuals pumping electricity into the grid from a variety of devices, some badly maintained and/or defective. I have no doubt it's far more trouble than it's worth and if politicians weren't involved the utility would ban them altogether.

Anonymous said...

The problem is load balancing and capability of the wires. Since the utilities are squeezing consumers for every last penny and the government is taxing the living snot out of it, more and more people are turning to alterative energy. This requires infrastructure upgrades to handle the additional loads.

As the legislation currently in place that requires energy companies to buy energy from the consumer at the same price that they sell it to that consumer (only fair, really) and the upgrades are funded now through equipment charges (which many must obtain permission from a state utilities board to raise), it is trying to recapture funds they once had from consumers. (Remember the CFL and LED lighting solutions consume far less energy than traditional bulbs.)

It is a combination of trying to discourage renewable energy by industry (because it cuts into their bottom line) and paying for equipment upgrade to handle the new energy. (I'm sure there may be additional governmental taxes that the state will want to charge for the energy the consumer sells TO the electric company. )

Joseph from IL

Ted said...

The electrical grid in Oklahoma is very different from the densly populated east . They have a very low "pass by" rate and high line maintence costs private wind and solar really makes a mess of thier already fragile load balance makeing the load even less predicable. And most of the remotely generated power gets lost to line losses in any case.

ProudHillbilly said...

Germany went to the whole green energy thing. All those folks who thought they were going to make money feeding excess back into the lines discovered that very much of that will take the grid down. They're buying energy from nuke plants in France.

Ancient Woodsman said...

Shouldn't the title be "Um, Watt?"

Evyl Robot Michael said...

I still need to compare the price difference between setting up off-the-grid power vs. laying as many yards of copper as will be necessary for our planned domicile. I don't see us doing both though.

Will Brown said...

@ Evil Robot Michael

I'd be interested to learn how (or if) something like this in the 100 kilowatt range would compare to the "yards of copper" alternative. Not for sale, but strictly for your own consumption on-property.