"Renewable energy is not fair"

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  • DaveBDaveB Solar Expert Posts: 48 ✭✭✭
    Re: "Renewable energy is not fair"
    icarus wrote: »
    I'll be the contrarian here. Even with a basic meter charge of say $25-50/month, look at the value that 24/7/365 access to energy is. Middle of the night, turn on he light, pump water, make toast, run the furnace. Yea, I can do all that with my off grid system, only that ain't cheap eatery. When you consider the infrastructure they hve to maintain especially for scattered rural and ex urban areas, it really is a bargain.

    Tony

    I would agree. The problem I have is with so many of these utility companies (including mine) having a hostile attitude towards anything pro renewable and promoting how great coal power is. They do this because they have no idea how to compete against energy efficiency and people generating their own power. They need to find more innovative ways of making money!
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,989 admin
    Re: "Renewable energy is not fair"
    DaveB wrote: »
    They need to find more innovative ways of making money!

    As in raising the base connection/minimum monthly charges for gas and electricity (and phone, and cable, and government, etc..)? :roll:

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: "Renewable energy is not fair"

    I think we'd all be a little less upset about the charges if we didn't know that much of the money these companies make is spent on frivolous things. This is particularly true if the company is a Crown Corporation or member-owned co-op. I seethe at the fact BC Hydro had money to sponsor the Winter Olympics; that is our (taxpayer's) money and should be used only for utility purposes. It is not profits to a private corporation that can do what they like with it.

    And there's the other problem: there is rarely any real competition for this type of business (electricity/gas/telephone) so if you don't like their rates or service you can't register your complaint by switching to the "other company"; there isn't one.

    Cell phones have provided significant competition for land lines (except in Canada where the carriers all use the same infrastructure and have identical rates) and the land lines are disappearing. Along those lines if the electric utility keeps upping the price then "roll your own" solar/wind/hydro will become more financially viable. It would be nice to be able to go grid-tie for it, but if they're going to be hard-nosed anti-solar jerks then ... take out the service. See how much profit they make when solar is a viable option and they start losing customers to it. It's not that far away now.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,879 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: "Renewable energy is not fair"
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    For off-grid power, using generator support for peak loads is a lot more cost effective than adding more RE sources, batteries and controllers. ...

    In general this is true, but if your major peak load time is in the summer and daytime, it's worth calculating if all you need is a greater array, since you will have more sun available and only need to store for the over night. particularly if your heat(cooling load) comes with available sun. This wouldn't work where I was in North Florida, but here in Missouri our heat comes with sun.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,124 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: "Renewable energy is not fair"

    Here is the way I look at it. Your utility bill is the sum of two functions. The first is paying for the product you use, eg, the kwh you use. The second is to have the service avaialbe 24/7 whether or not you use any power at all. In both cases you have the option of turning on a light switch at any time and getting the product delivered to your outlet.

    I the old days the price of the power factored in the price of the infrastructure needed to make it available, through the metered rate. More modern billing methods (and I would argue more equitable) bills for the product (power) and bills the delivery cost separately. Are there "funny"aspects to this billing arraignment? Probably, but on balance the systems works fairly well, and fairly equitably.

    I would certainly argue that utilities ought to be doing everything they can to encourage the adoption if RE, for a myriad of reasons, but economic and business factors do come into play. The bottom line is, even if your net useage is 0kwh/month, you derive significant benefit from the grid even though you don't use any (net) power, and you ought to be willing to pay for it. Now if you turn the tables the other way, and the utility derives a bigger benefit from you than it costs, they too ought to be willing to pay. For example, if by having a lot of peak time of day PV allows them to reduce the need for other more expensive energy, both in peaks, and in the aggregate, it can be argued that they derive a benefit, hence the move toward TOD metering.

    Certainly not all utilities are yet in the 21st century, but more and more they are moving that way. The net/net of all of this is the price of both energy and it's delivery mechanism (infrastructure) is likely to continue to go up. Unless you are convinced that the price of batteries are likely to buck that trend, the grid will continue to be you best bag for your buck.

    Tony
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,879 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: "Renewable energy is not fair"
    NorthGuy wrote: »
    When you live off-grid, you generate electricity in the day time (off-peak), store it in batteries, then use in the night time (peak-hours). Batteries and associated equipment are expensive and need to be changed from time to time. So, you pay dearly for the shifting.....

    Not getting you, 'NorthGuy' I think peak energy use for electric companies is noon to 6pm, I don't have time just now to look it up. Perhaps someone who has peak and off peak rates can confirm this. Solar is mostly generater during peak hours though.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: "Renewable energy is not fair"
    Photowhit wrote: »
    Not getting you, 'NorthGuy' I think peak energy use for electric companies is noon to 6pm, I don't have time just now to look it up. Perhaps someone who has peak and off peak rates can confirm this. Solar is mostly generater during peak hours though.

    You may be right. It should be very low usage during the night, so nights should be off-peak. The business consumption happens during the day time.

    Although, at home we consume 50% of our electricity in two short periods - morning and evening - both dark.

    If solar customers produce energy during peak and then get it back off-peak, this should be good for the electric company. If so, I don't really understand why energy shifting is a burden on non-solar customers.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,338 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: "Renewable energy is not fair"
    NorthGuy wrote: »
    When you live off-grid, you generate electricity in the day time (off-peak), store it in batteries, then use in the night time (peak-hours). Batteries and associated equipment are expensive and need to be changed from time to time. So, you pay dearly for the shifting.

    When you are grid-tied, you simply unload all your off-peak energy to the electric company, and then get it back during the peak-hours. They store your energy for free, or, at least, for the fraction of the cost of batteries. However, this is a very valuable service. The question is who's paying for that.

    Let's suppose all the customers switched to grif-tie solar. The electric company would get a lot of energy during off-peak. They cannot do anything useful with it, so they would have to sell it. During the peak hours they would have to buy it back and supply it to customers. But, during peak hours the electricity costs 3 to 5 times more. So, by doing this energy trading the company would be losing money all the time until the government would bail them out and the taxpayers would be paying the bill for energy shifting.

    Let's now suppose that only half of the customers switched to solar. The electric company wouldn't need to buy energy off-peak because it still has plenty, possibly even too much. All the electricity would have to be bough during peak hours. As a result, the cost of energy, which used to be some sort of average of off-peak and peak prices, would be now pure peak rate. If the electric company kept the margin the same, the non-solar customers would have to pay this higher rate, thus indirectly subsidising energy shifting for solar customers. That definitely is a burden.

    If electric company would charge solar customers an energy shifting fee, which is similar to what off-grid people pay for batteries, there would be no burden on the rest of customers.

    Not the case with my net metering plan. I can only get benefit for power generated within my Time of Use. For instance I generate excess kWh during the day, I don't get to buy off-peak power with that excess, I still have to pay for off peak. That being said I can bank those on peak kWh for use in a later month when I can't generate enough. The utility can sell my excess to my neighbor and charge delivery fees and transmission fees to hop through there transformer. No generation cost at the time, no transmission losses, just a pretty pure profit.

    Those Californians have it made getting dollar credits for daytime excess and use the dollar credit to buy night time power. Just think of the extreme differences in price there and you can see where a smaller system works wonders against the billing.
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: "Renewable energy is not fair"
    Photowhit wrote: »
    Not getting you, 'NorthGuy' I think peak energy use for electric companies is noon to 6pm, I don't have time just now to look it up. Perhaps someone who has peak and off peak rates can confirm this. Solar is mostly generater during peak hours though.

    When I used to work on megawatt class generators and set them up for exercise, and auto-run times for Peak Load Shaving, the utilities always told us 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM is peak load time.

    Especially for hospitals where standby generators have to be tested and certified** at full campus load every 30 days, the utilities would offer a break on rates for the month if the hospital was willing to run their standbys during peak load hours several times a month. The break was pretty substantial for 480/277 three-phase power and usually paid for the fuel to run the standbys up to 25 hours a month. And further, the scheduled run times also took care of the monthly certification requirement, so they killed two birds with one stone.

    **the generators used at any facility where human life support systems are located are special units. They are dual redundant sets and are required by law to start and accept full campus load within 11 seconds of a power outage.
    --
    Chris
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