Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

KnowledgeSpongeKnowledgeSponge Solar Expert Posts: 173 ✭✭✭
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  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    The utilities would be well served by looking closely at what the digital revolution did to the music industry and how the industry responded. They dug in their heels and tried to preserve their old business model in the face of a radical paradigm shift in technology. It did not work for them and it won't work for the utilities, either.

    That said, at the present time the prospects for large numbers of customers getting completely off the grid are not that great, and they may never significantly improve. The lack of a cost efficient electrical storage technology is, as it always has been, the largest and most intractable obstacle, and it may not be a solvable problem.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,153 admin
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    In metropolitan areas--Between trees, power lines, neighbors' homes, roof design--I would be surprised if 25% of the homes in our region could "go solar" if the utility "went away" (with present laws regarding shading/etc.).

    If the utilities went away (natural gas, electricity, etc.), then that would also dramatically affect water, sewer, jobs, stores, etc. too... Our "high density" society will need utility power and "dense" forms of energy (fuels, nuclear, power lines, new forms of energy/energy storage/etc.) to maintain our present lifestyles. If/when we "de-industrialize", then you could be looking at something different.

    Possibly could be done "slowly" (over generations)--But it could happen quickly too (war, epidemic, financial collapse, etc.). And if it happens quickly, it will be a disaster of biblical proportions (my guess--who knows).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    So far they have not mentioned that what the DER's put into the grid is sent to another grid customer and the Utility sells that power without having the expense of paying for generating it , the GT customer bears that cost and is paid a modest price for his self generated power... pretty good profit margin I think. At least that is what it's like in BC...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    i agree with bill as we won't be able to totally replace the utility with solar. even i would have difficulty finding enough space to place all of the pvs i'd need to run my household and i figure i could fit 2kw comfortably with 3kw pushing it as i have a tight city type property. winter would be a total disaster with so few hours of sun if and when it decided to pop out.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,368 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    And this study shows that the Arizona utilities get a 54% advantage using distributed solar.
    http://www.solarfeeds.com/arizona-sees-54-return-on-distributed-generation-solar/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+solarfeed+%28Solar+Feeds%29

    Who you going to believe.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    solar_dave wrote: »
    And this study shows that the Arizona utilities get a 54% advantage using distributed solar.
    http://www.solarfeeds.com/arizona-sees-54-return-on-distributed-generation-solar/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+solarfeed+%28Solar+Feeds%29

    Who you going to believe.
    My local utility (Austin Energy) is very much a proponent of solar. The city is growing rapidly and AE is under a lot of pressure to divest itself from coal. AE looks at encouraging/subsidizing solar as one way to defer the building of more natural gas fired electrical generation capacity.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,368 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    ggunn wrote: »
    My local utility (Austin Energy) is very much a proponent of solar. The city is growing rapidly and AE is under a lot of pressure to divest itself from coal. AE looks at encouraging/subsidizing solar as one way to defer the building of more natural gas fired electrical generation capacity.

    Certainly a places like ours with high AC loads should be proponents of solar, as the load corresponds to the generation pretty good.
  • peakbaggerpeakbagger Solar Expert Posts: 341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    Unless folks are willing to change their lifestyle substantially and go with true real time pricing plus live with frequent brown or black outs or install large battery banks and standby generators, the utilities will do fine. Many states are deregulated already where the local utility only acts to deliver the power and maintain the lines while third parties supply the power. One regional utility near me has proposed flat rate billing for T&D costs. They dont care where the power comes from, they just deliver it. Once the wires are installed, its the same cost to maintain a service no matter how much power is used. Unlike some areas of the country, new englands peak demands are usually cold nights in January where solar is not running and even windfarms may not be turning. Barring a major change in technology with much higher storage density, I dont see days worth of batteries being installed to back up the grid in pace of fossil generation. Utilities are regulated monopolies and are guaranteed a rate of return, if they lose out generation they will make it up on grid stabilization.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    Here's a new nightmare twist for you all to worry about:

    Smart Meters that measure at-the-moment current and charge according to usage on that basis. Not the "It's 3:00 PM and the rates go up 'til 9:00" TOU billing but rather "this house is drawing above 2kW so it gets charged 10 cents more per".

    Just imagine that! First kW at any moment for 10¢, draw two and pay 20¢ (each or on the second), et cetera or some other variation on the theme.

    That ought to keep you awake nights worrying. ;)
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,368 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    Here's a new nightmare twist for you all to worry about:

    Smart Meters that measure at-the-moment current and charge according to usage on that basis. Not the "It's 3:00 PM and the rates go up 'til 9:00" TOU billing but rather "this house is drawing above 2kW so it gets charged 10 cents more per".

    Just imagine that! First kW at any moment for 10¢, draw two and pay 20¢ (each or on the second), et cetera or some other variation on the theme.

    That ought to keep you awake nights worrying. ;)

    APS already has a demand use tariff. I sure don't know why anyone would get on it , but it exists.
    http://www.aps.com/library/rates/ect-2.pdf
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    solar_dave wrote: »
    APS already has a demand use tariff. I sure don't know why anyone would get on it , but it exists.

    Many companies do, but they tend to be on the lines of "so many kW hours per month" at one rate and above that at a higher rate. This often in concert with daily TOU rates.

    Now imagine the rate fluctuating moment to moment according how much current is being drawn at that moment. I think they got the idea from some of our cell phone service providers. :p

    Oh yes, one other thing: we don't know about this and you didn't hear it from me. ;)
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,368 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    For billing purposes, the kW used in this rate schedule shall be based on the average kW supplied during the 60-minute period of maximum use during the customer’s On-Peak hours, as determined from readings of the Company’s meter.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    solar_dave wrote: »
    For billing purposes, the kW used in this rate schedule shall be based on the average kW supplied during the 60-minute period of maximum use during the customer’s On-Peak hours, as determined from readings of the Company’s meter.

    Wait ... didn't they leave out the part about the phase of the moon? :p

    I sometimes think they sit around coming up with ways to make it more confusing so that the customer has no hope of understanding how it works and can not come out ahead no matter what.

    We have a flat rate here, up to so many kW hours per month. Our neighbour across the street says she has TOU billing but I don't see how as there are no smart meters in this area. That's a bit dumb too, as it would save them having to drive around to read meters which are often miles apart. Of course the RF meters may not work over that distance.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    having not read the complete thread, nor the I need article, but it would seem if the utility were worried about losing it self to the PV revolution, the simplest solution for the utility would be for it to simply install PV itself. At the economy of scale and access to infrastructure if they were serious they could ensure thier own survival?

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,153 admin
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    In California, they have been talking about real time pricing for power once the smart meters have been installed... Something like 23 hour notice of the next day's rates. And the "elevated rates" (i.e., during power emergencies) would be limited to something like 20 days a year (prices at $0.75 per kWH as I recall)--So far, it does not appear to have been implemented yet (or forced customers onto that plan).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,368 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    Wait ... didn't they leave out the part about the phase of the moon? :p

    I sometimes think they sit around coming up with ways to make it more confusing so that the customer has no hope of understanding how it works and can not come out ahead no matter what.

    We have a flat rate here, up to so many kW hours per month. Our neighbour across the street says she has TOU billing but I don't see how as there are no smart meters in this area. That's a bit dumb too, as it would save them having to drive around to read meters which are often miles apart. Of course the RF meters may not work over that distance.

    What is even more confusing on that tariff is this!
    ADJUSTMENTS
    1. The bill is subject to the Renewable Energy Standard as set forth in the Company’s Adjustment Schedule REAC-1 pursuant to Arizona Corporation Commission Decision No. 70313.
    2. The bill is subject to the Power Supply Adjustment factor as set forth in the Company’s Adjustment Schedule PSA-1 pursuant to Arizona Corporation Commission Decision No. 67744, Arizona Corporation Commission Decision No. 69663, Arizona Corporation Commission Decision No. 71448 and 73183.
    3. The bill is subject to the Transmission Cost Adjustment factor as set forth in the Company’s Adjustment Schedule TCA-1 pursuant to Arizona Corporation Commission Decision No. 67744.
    4. The bill is subject to the Environmental Improvement Surcharge as set forth in the Company’s Adjustment Schedule EIS pursuant to Arizona Corporation Commission Decision No. 69663 and Arizona Corporation Commission Decision No. 73183.
    5. Direct Access customers returning to Standard Offer service may be subject to a Returning Customer Direct Access Charge as set forth in the Company’s Adjustment Schedule RCDAC-1 pursuant to Arizona Corporation Commission Decision No. 67744.
    6. The bill is subject to the Demand Side Management Adjustment charge as set forth in the Company's Adjustment Schedule DSMAC-1 pursuant to Arizona Corporation Commission Decision No. 67744 and Arizona Corporation Commission Decision No. 71448.
    7. The bill is subject to the Lost Fixed Cost Recovery mechanism as set forth in the Company’s Adjustment Schedule LFCR pursuant to Arizona Corporation Commission Decision No. 73183, unless the customer opts out from this adjustment and is subject to the Optional Basic Service Charge.
    8. The bill is subject to the applicable proportionate part of any taxes or governmental impositions which are or may in the future be assessed on the basis of gross revenues of APS and/or the price or revenue from the electric energy or service sold and/or the volume of energy generated or purchased for sale and/or sold hereunder.

    Just not decipherable by the average consumer.

    And here are the rates:
    Delivery Charge:
    May – October Billing Cycles
    (Summer)

    $4.500 per On-Peak kW, plus
    $0.01400 per kWh

    November – April Billing Cycles
    (Winter)

    $2.400 per On-Peak kW, plus
    $0.01590 per kWh

    Generation Charge:
    May – October Billing Cycles
    (Summer)

    $9.000 per On-Peak kW, plus
    $0.06650 per kWh during On-Peak hours, plus
    $0.02200 per kWh during Off-Peak hours

    November – April Billing Cycles
    (Winter)

    $6.900 per On-Peak kW, plus
    $0.03340 per kWh during On-Peak hours, plus
    $0.01700 per kWh during Off-Peak hours

    Go read it, I don't think they could even tell you how your bill is derived once it is delivered.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    Sounds like a lot of different ways of saying "we're-not-making-enough-profit billing adjustments". :roll:
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,368 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    Sounds like a lot of different ways of saying "we're-not-making-enough-profit billing adjustments". :roll:

    Some how I think they are OK with about a 75% gross margin!
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    That is definitely one meaning of the word "gross". Possibly two. :p
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    Dave, any ideas why the "Renewable Energy" excludes "AZ Sun" , and what it really means?
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,368 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    westbranch wrote: »
    Dave, any ideas why the "Renewable Energy" excludes "AZ Sun" , and what it really means?

    No clue, probably CFO mumbo jumbo!
    here is the link to the presentation
    http://www.pinnaclewest.com/files/investors/1Q2013_PNW_Earnings_Slides.pdf
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    Sounds like a lot of different ways of saying "we're-not-making-enough-profit billing adjustments". :roll:

    you're probably right. i'm waiting for one to say management waste. that would be the high cost of those that are in management that sat in the little boys/girls room thinking up ways to charge us more.:p
  • DanS26DanS26 Solar Expert Posts: 244 ✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    The real underlying problem with solar PV energy in not storage it is distribution. The sun is shining on the same amount of earth every minute of every hour every day. In the longer run, I think utilities should be more concerned with a breakthrough in distribution technology rather than storage technology.
    18.2kW Kyocera panels; 2 Fronius 7.5kW inverters; Nyle hot water; Steffes ETS; Great Lakes RO; Generac 10kW w/ATS, TED Pro System monitoring with PVOutput.org
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    DanS26 wrote: »
    The real underlying problem with solar PV energy in not storage it is distribution. The sun is shining on the same amount of earth every minute of every hour every day. In the longer run, I think utilities should be more concerned with a breakthrough in distribution technology rather than storage technology.

    It is difficult enough to have a stable grid when transferring energy from one side of North America to the other. When you add in crossing oceans, you will find it is less likely to be practical than the chances for improving storage at either a local or regional level.

    We have enough problems with our long-distance grid infrastructure that we cannot afford to add the stress of long distance transfer or solar or wind energy right now. Once we spend what it takes (or less likely we develop new technologies) then we may be in a position to do something along those lines.
    But energy storage can be built and installed now, and at the same time will serve to make the grid more stable in the face of both faults and sudden changes in demand or supply.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,368 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    I don't know what the lose rate is for long haul transfer of power but I suspect it is more than loses using localized storage.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    solar_dave wrote: »
    I don't know what the lose rate is for long haul transfer of power but I suspect it is more than loses using localized storage.

    In some cases it is more than 50%. No joke.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    DanS26 wrote: »
    The real underlying problem with solar PV energy in not storage it is distribution. The sun is shining on the same amount of earth every minute of every hour every day. In the longer run, I think utilities should be more concerned with a breakthrough in distribution technology rather than storage technology.
    Actually, it's both. Consider a large solar farm built out in the middle of nowhere and the transmission lines that must be installed to connect it to the grid. The lines must be designed to carry the maximum power the PV can produce, even though it produces at that rate only a few hours out of the day, and that is hideously expensive. If there were on-site storage which could buffer the PV system's output so that it delivered the same amount of power around the clock, those transmission lines would only have to be 1/4 to 1/3 as big.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,368 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities
    ggunn wrote: »
    Actually, it's both. Consider a large solar farm built out in the middle of nowhere and the transmission lines that must be installed to connect it to the grid. The lines must be designed to carry the maximum power the PV can produce, even though it produces at that rate only a few hours out of the day, and that is hideously expensive. If there were on-site storage which could buffer the PV system's output so that it delivered the same amount of power around the clock, those transmission lines would only have to be 1/4 to 1/3 as big.

    I notice that APS is doing there commercial level solar farms where the lines already exist, the Gila Bend Project is near the gas turbine peakers and the other large project is not far from Palo Verde Nuclear plant.
  • hfrikhfrik Registered Users Posts: 15
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    Well, some opinion from European sight :)

    a) utilities as far as power plants are concerned might get into trouble when solar power expands. they will be needed less and less frequent.
    b) utilities , as far as grid is concerned, will have more and more business the more solar power is installed.
    At least as long as nobody develops a _really_ cheap storage. So far, Grid is far cheaper than storage.
    But the existing grid in the U.S. is far too weak for this shift. Even the far stronger European/ German grid is not sufficient for this task, which is why plenty for grid extensions on the high and highest voltage are are under way / under construction here.
    A European / U.S. Link would be possible via Iceland and Greenland; Iceland-UK-Link was already in discussion, a lot of wind power could be installed in Iceland and Greenland on the way. but that's for the future. So far it's enough to move the power some hundreds or thousands of km from places where "too much" is generated to places where it's needed.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,153 admin
    Re: Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities

    Right now, many countries with heavy commitment to solar are using Coal Fired power plants on spinning standby to keep their power grid stable (or virtually giving away "peak power generation" that exceed local loads to nearby countries.

    And, so far, even with solar/wind power, these countries (in Europe) have not even closed down one coal fired plant yet--And now are having to look at more coal/other fueled plants to keep the grid up and stable (especially Germany shutting down old nuclear power plants after the last major Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami hit a nuclear power station (that was built in a flood plan with historical hits from Tsunami's hundreds of years and longer in the past--Understand their concerns about older nuclear plants, but this seems to be a bit extreme).

    A full sized Nuclear or Coal Powered plant can take 24 hour or more to come online from a cold start and can only "efficiently" throttle their output power in a limited range (something like 50% -- don't know for sure). Where a natural gas fired turbine can start up and be at full power in less than 15 minutes.

    The issue of how a utility runs its "base load" plants is a big problem. One poster here said (a couple of years ago) actually was paid a few cents a kWH to use power at night.

    And some wind turbine farms were actually having to pay the utility to take their power--But it still made sense for the operators because the subsidies for kWH was so high.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
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