Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by DrMatt »

EUREKA!

Use the Wilson Solar Collector to charge the batteries of a Tesla.
Then use the ensuing fire to grill your bear meat.

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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by robinson »

If solar worked for cooking then poor people in Africa would be doing it.

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oh really?

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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Anaxagoras »

So I heard this story on the radio and it seemed interesting so I thought I'd pass it along for anyone interested:

In sunny Nevada, a defeat for the solar industry
Solar City pulled out of Nevada after state regulators cut the price that utilities have to pay for surplus electricity generated by home solar installations. The price cut undid the home solar industry’s business model. This month solar customers and former employees protested outside the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.
In December, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission eliminated one-for-one net metering for residential solar customers. Over several years, the rate NV Energy pays solar customers for their surplus electricity will be cut by 75 percent. There went the business model for rooftop solar.

This month, more than a thousand angry consumers and industry workers demonstrated outside the PUC's Las Vegas offices. But the noise outside did not stop the agency from reaffirming a controversial part of its decision. The net metering rules won't just apply to new solar customers, but the 17,000 customers who have already purchased or leased panels. What seemed like a wise investment last year, has turned out to be an expensive mistake.

NV Energy did not respond to requests for comment. The PUC's director of regulatory operations, Anne-Marie Cuneo, wouldn't talk either. But on a local public television program, Cuneo said residential solar customers were being subsidized by non-solar customers.

"The commission has always been very clear that the rates can change, the utility has been very clear that the rates can change, the legislation was clear that the rates can change" she said.

"Come on, that's misleading," Lyndon Rive, the CEO of Solar City, said in an interview. "No one would go solar in their right mind, if they knew net metering was going to go away."

Solar City finances and installs residential solar systems in 18 other states. It shut down sales in Nevada and laid off 500 employees after the PUC's decision in December. Rive and other industry leaders are gathering signatures for a ballot referendum that he says would allow the industry to come back.

"I don't think people quite understand it," he said. "This decision has decimated the entire industry. There is no more rooftop industry in Nevada."
So how much is net metering worth to a homeowner? Richard Stewart, that guy with a laptop in his backyard, paid $30,000 for his solar array. But with the PUC's change in rates, he'll get back only half his money in 20 years.

"This was a dollar and cent decision for me, based on the rules at the time," he said. "If I'd know they were going to do this, I wouldn't have invested."

And that's the rooftop solar industry's fear: if customers can't count on savings, its business model is no business model at all.
Meanwhile in Spain:
Spain Approves 'Sun Tax,' Discriminates Against Solar PV
According to Spain’s Photovoltaic Union (UNEF), the new law requires self-consumption PV system owners to pay the same grid fees that all electricity consumers in Spain pay, plus a so-called 'sun tax'. Specifically, said UNEF, a self-consumption PV owner "will pay a 'sun tax' for the whole power [capacity] installed (the power that you contracted to your electricity company, plus the power from your PV installation) and also another [second] 'sun tax' for the electricity that you generate and self-consume from your own PV installation (this applies to installations larger than 10 kW)."

. . .
The new law also prohibits PV systems up to 100 kW from selling electricity. Instead, their owners are required to donate the extra electricity to the grid for free. Systems over 100 kW must register in order to sell electricity in the spot market for the excess power they generate. Limitations do not end at this point though. Thus, for PV systems up to 100 kW the owner of the installation must be the owner of the contract with the electricity company, while community ownership is prohibited altogether for all sizes of self-consumption systems.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Doctor X »

Wow.

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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Rob Lister »

Wow is right. The following quotes are a little out of order.
It makes sense to apply a small fee to the electricity exported in the network,...
I would argue not necessarily for a small fee but rather the actual cost for that exportation (i.e. reverse metering). There really are costs that they should share. In [some places in] the U.S., power companies are required by law to pay the retail price for reverse-metered power. That is both insane and unsustainable because the generated cost of electricity is roughly one-fifth the delivered cost; distribution is expensive.
...but customers shouldn’t have to pay taxes for the self-generated electricity to be consumed on site, say Spain’s solar advocates.
They should if they're otherwise connected to the grid because they represent a non-dispatchable node on the network; an unpredictable load. The resources of the grid are not lessened because they use solar; it must accommodate the grid as a whole on a rainy day regardless. I don't argue the fee should be large but it should reflect the actual cost. To wit:
Off-grid installations will obviously not pay any grid tax whatsoever.
And at the end ...
“It is clear the energy policy of the conservative party currently ruling the country does not want to encourage distributed generation, net metering or self-consumption schemes," José Donoso, UNEF’s general director, said. "The Spanish government clearly supports the energy model of the last century where few, very powerful utilities dominate the electricity market. It does not want more actors participating in the electricity market."
That does appear to be the case.
Finally, the law is retroactive meaning that all existing self-consumption PV installations need to comply with the new regulations otherwise face an astronomically high penalty fee up to €60 million. This sanction, UNEF notes, is double the fine set for radioactive leaks from nuclear plants.
:roll: okay, that's a bit rich.

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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by ed »

Governme ts want to control it because it represents revenue.
About that stereo

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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Rob Lister »

ed wrote:Governme ts want to control it because it represents revenue.
More to the point: it represents actual control. Self-determination and self-sufficiency of the people negates the need for government. That can't have that.

/libertarian mode

But they really do want to wrest control.
From a policy perspective, the control of the grid is balkanized, and even former energy secretary Bill Richardson refers to it as a third world grid.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_ ... ent_policy

It is truly balkanized but decidedly first world. It is the balkanization that makes it so.

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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Abdul Alhazred »

Who owns the grid?

I've seen suggestion that generation should be "free market" but the government should own (and regulate) the grid.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Abdul Alhazred wrote:Who owns the grid?

I've seen suggestion that generation should be "free market" but the government should own (and regulate) the grid.
I don't see how that would work in practice frankly.

"Hey everybody, we've got a special on electrons this week! Fresh, organic wind-generated electrons here! Supplies limited so get them while you can!!"

Seriously though, your electrical outlets don't come with a switch so you change who your power comes from. If "the grid" is the grid, there is no "shopping around" for different power generators at the other end.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Abdul Alhazred »

It works the same way choosing your phone company works, but with government owned and regulated grid infrastructure. We are already moving in that direction, except that the grid infrastructure is also often privately owned.

A few big players for power generation, with a handful of smaller outfits generating their own and selling their small surpluses to one of the big power companies.

I won't argue it's the best way to go, but if the issue is "will it work at all" the answer is it already is, except not quite "free market" enough for some folks.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Anaxagoras »

I didn't realize that's how the grid worked.

So let me get this straight: on a single grid you can have multiple power generators owned by different entities and multiple customers who can choose which entity to buy their power from? And each generator can send power only to the people paying for their power and not to everyone else on the grid who gets their power from someone else?
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Abdul Alhazred »

Even with a monopoly, you typically have several power plants feeding the grid.

The electricity is totally fungible, a plant does not target a customer. But a company can charge customers up to the amount they are generating. As well as charges for the use of the grid etc. The main complication here is accounting.

There are various technical issues, you can't just fire up a plant at random and hook it up to the grid, but it's one big grid with several plants in any case.

Think of it as a great big pool of electricity, except that there can be no significant static storage to speak of. With current technology that is. That would be a big game changer and people are working on it.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Anaxagoras wrote:I didn't realize that's how the grid worked.

So let me get this straight: on a single grid you can have multiple power generators owned by different entities and multiple customers who can choose which entity to buy their power from?And each generator can send power only to the people paying for their power and not to everyone else on the grid who gets their power from someone else?
yes
No.

If the load on any node on the grid can be measured, the loads distributed further down node can be reconciled by agreement between the utility company and the electricity retailers. This is generally reconciled every 15 minutes but can be more often. The retailer is responsible for providing supply to the grid prior to the node to his reconciled share of the demand after the node. He can buy it from any wholesaler, including the utility. Generally the utility is the default supplier; if the retailer can not or does not supply his share of the demand, it defaults to the utility and the retailer must then pay the hugely expensive spot prices.

I can't find a good description of the actual process in the U.S. but here is how New Zealand does it.
https://www.ea.govt.nz/operations/retai ... ciliation/
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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So in practice does this benefit customers somehow by lowering their prices? I think in Japan, the utility needs permission from a government regulator to raise prices. Because they are essentially a monopoly.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Anaxagoras wrote:So in practice does this benefit customers somehow by lowering their prices?
In general, nope. It adds a middle man who expects to get paid.

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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Abdul Alhazred »

Anaxagoras wrote:So in practice does this benefit customers somehow by lowering their prices? I think in Japan, the utility needs permission from a government regulator to raise prices. Because they are essentially a monopoly.
When I lived (until very recently) in Wheeling Illinois, the town had a deal with a power company other than Com Ed (the big original power company that owns the local grid) that was supposed to make rates come down.

Just the usual Chicago and vicinity crony capitalism.

It might work more to the benefit of the consumer if there weren't so much corruption in the mix. In any case, the lights stayed on and residential rates did not change much either way so no one called for an investigation.

That's about as well as it can be expected to work, whereas we had frequent brownouts under the old Com Ed monopolism. But that may have been deliberately contrived etc.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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Rob Lister wrote:
Anaxagoras wrote:So in practice does this benefit customers somehow by lowering their prices?
In general, nope. It adds a middle man who expects to get paid.
Reminds me of the car dealers and how they want it to be illegal for manufacturers to sell directly to consumers.
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

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In the UK we have this sort of nonsensical "competition". Yes, you decide which company you want to buy your electricity (and gas too, if you have natural gas piped into your home) from. They have different tariffs and change them at different dates so as not to be in synch with each other. Generally they have lower rates for new customers so if you can be bothered with the hassle, it pays you to switch providers every year or so. There is a whole industry of price comparison sites that are supposed to work out your best options and make the switching process more automatic - of course these sites are paid commission by the companies when they sign up fresh customers.

It's all bloody stupid and ultimately costs more on average. I would like it to be outlawed. Fucking business moguls and their pet politicians mean that there is little chance it will change. Basically you get to choose the name of the company on your energy bills and are rewarded for disloyalty.

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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by Anaxagoras »

Story out of Germany here. They have gotten this far:

http://qz.com/680661/germany-had-so-muc ... ectricity/
On Sunday, May 8, Germany hit a new high in renewable energy generation. Thanks to a sunny and windy day, at one point around 1pm the country’s solar, wind, hydro and biomass plants were supplying about 55 GW of the 63 GW being consumed, or 87%. Power prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity.
Germany’s power surplus on Sunday wasn’t all good news. The system is still too rigid for power suppliers and consumers to respond quickly to price signals. Though gas power plants were taken offline, nuclear and coal plants can’t be quickly shut down, so they went on running and had to pay to sell power into the grid for several hours, while industrial customers such as refineries and foundries earned money by consuming electricity.
Can you turn a foundry or refinery on and off as the price of electricity fluctuates throughout the day?
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Re: Solar Realities and the Electric Company

Post by ceptimus »

One of the main 'base load' uses of electricity that can be turned on and off (to some degree) in response to grid demand is refrigeration equipment.

Generally it doesn't matter if your fridge or air conditioning doesn't switch itself on till the fridge or house has warmed up an extra degree or two - so if all fridges and air-con units were smart and connected, then this could be used to smooth out some of the supply/demand bumps.

Once enough people have battery cars, then it would also be useful if the grid could request car charging to be switched off at times of peak demand.