Skip to main content

In early December, the Guardian covered ALEC's latest corporate-written attack on freedom, an effort to penalize households that place solar panels on their roof:

An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels – casting them as "freeriders" – in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy, the Guardian has learned. ...
For 2014, Alec plans to promote a suite of model bills and resolutions aimed at blocking Barack Obama from cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and state governments from promoting the expansion of wind and solar power through regulations known as Renewable Portfolio Standards.
[Director of the Energy and Policy Institute Gabe] Elsner argued that after its bruising state battles in 2013, Alec was now focused on weakening – rather than seeking outright repeal – of the clean energy standards. "What we saw in 2013 was an attempt to repeal RPS laws, and when that failed … what we are seeing now is a strategy that appears to be pro- clean energy but would actually weaken those pro- clean energy laws by retreating to the lowest common denominator," he said.
So, is there a particular reason why ALEC going after rooftop solar photo-voltaic installations now, after having to beat a retreat on its 2013 effort to win wholesale repeals of Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards? Why yes, there does appear to be a particular reason for going after the economics of rooftop solar PV.

Solar Energy Prices and the Tipping Point

Consider the diagram below, taken from a Seeking Alpha article (free reg'n required for full article) on the immediate past and future prospects of the Solar Photovoltaic Energy industry. The labels are, I understand, largely illegible, but it is a plot on a logarithmic scale. This is a scale where the larger the numbers, the smaller the interval given to the same difference, which is quite useful when examining things that proceed by repeated doublings or, for the case of Solar PV energy, halvings. The blue line is a measure of the cost of petroleum (in terms of energy content), the red line the cost of natural gas, and the yellow line the retail price of electricity.

And the green line is the cost of solar PV electricity:

And you can see the problem for natural gas producers: the cost of Solar PV electricity is dropping below the retail cost of electricity. That means that in some parts of the country ~ Southern California and Hawaii stand out ~ even when natural gas is allowed to impose the cost on future generations implied by dumping CO2 into the atmosphere free of charge, rooftop solar provides cheaper solar to households when the sun is shining than the electricity company is offering.

If the free ride costs of CO2 emissions for natural gas and coal powered electricity were to be included in the market cost of natural gas and coal, the number of states where solar would be cheaper than retail electricity would clearly expand.

So, what is ALEC's argument? The argument is that the solar power is intermittent, and so the capacity provided by the grid is acting as insurance to the household, and so the household that is producing its own solar power should pay for the privilege of also being connected to the grid. Obviously what ALEC's argument ignores is the flipside free-riding of their fossil-fuel producing members, since when that is taken into account, the electricity that is produced by the households with solar PV is preventing the emissions of CO2, and so equally well deserves a credit for reducing the fossil-fuel producer's free-riding.

As Seeking Alpha argued, from the perspective of investors, in January,

For companies and shareholders (unless you want to play these cycle swings), it would actually be best if the industry growth could converge on two basic metrics:
  • The long-term decline in cost per watt
  • The long-term growth in demand

The first is a function of materials cost, technological advances, and efficiency gains in production. Individually, these are only a couple of percent per year, but all three working together and this amounts to quite a substantial decline over time.
And as we pass through this threshold where solar PV is in large parts of the country already less expensive than the full cost of fossil-fuel power (factoring in climate impacts), and is driving toward being less expensive than the retail cost of electricity, we will increasingly see fossil fuel producers taking political actions to protect their industry self-interest against the public interest. Seeking Alpha, again:
In case you think this isn't going to affect other energy sources, here is Credit Suisse:
Other key points are that falling wind and solar costs make them competitive with natural gas, even ignoring externalities. As a result, Credit Suisse has cut its natural gas projections considerably. "We estimate renewables slowing the rate of natural gas demand growth from power generation to <0.5 bcf/d through 2020 versus our prior estimate of 1.0-1.2 bcf/d even when taking into account planned coal plant shutdowns and assumed nuclear plant retirements." [Cleantechnica]
This could very well directly compete with natural gas as a source for electricity generation, and by doing that, putting a cap on the shale gas revolution. And the threat to gas isn't limited to the US, where natural gas prices are very low compared to much (if not all) of the world.
Obviously, for those of us with children and grandchildren who will have to live through the catastrophic climate change implied by the "shale gas revolution", putting a cap on the shale gas revolution would be welcome news indeed.

 
The Feed-In Tariff vs Net Metering controversy

There is a point of controversy that reflects a fight within the ranks of solar energy advocates, rather than between solar energy advocates and the producers of potentially catastrophic amounts of energy from fossil fuels. That is the argument between "Feed In Tariffs" and "Net Metering".

"Feed In Tariffs" are the most effective means of expanding the harvest of a "use it or lose it" energy source like wind or solar, where the largest part of the total cost is the fixed cost,

With relatively negligible marginal costs, the producer of existing renewable energy harvesting equipment has an incentive to sell power at prices well below the replacement cost of the equipment. By contrast, coal and natural gas power producers drop out of the market when the rate they are paid for electricity, the "producer tariff", drops below the cost of fuel plus marginal operating costs of the plant. Therefore, when electricity is priced by constructing an artificial market and setting the price at the price required to bring sufficient power online, the natural gas "peaker" plant is going to be a price maker during peak power demand. By contrast, when there is an abundance of renewable energy available, that displaces the most expensive energy sources and pushes the price of electricity down. So under those market arrangements, the renewable energy producer reduces the average cost of electricity to the producer, but risks pushing the price they are paid below the amount required to meet the finance cost of their equipment.

A Feed-In Tariff addresses this problem by setting a fixed tariff for some or all of the power produced by the harvester of renewable energy, which neither drops when the wholesale price in the artificial wholesale market is below the Feed-In Tariff, nor increases when the wholesale price is above the Feed-In Tariff. Since the Feed-In Tariff increases the incentive to install that equipment, it leads to more renewable energy being available. Depending on how mature the technology is and the competing cost of electricity from existing unsustainable energy sources, Feed-In Tariffs can indeed result in a lower average retail price for power than if the Feed-In Tariff was not in place. This outcome has been most often associated with Windpower, but with declining costs of Solar PV, it is likely to become common for Solar PV as well.

An ideal Feed-In Tariff is "retrogressive", which means that the tariff paid to the early adopters is higher than the tariff paid to later adopters, which reflect the fact that early adopters face industry start-up and establishment costs that later adopters do not have to face. And while European Feed-In Tariffs have typically had different rates for different energy sources, it is also possible to organize a common Feed-In Tariff for renewable energy sources and have a separate side-payment that accounts for the benefit to grid stability of supply of having a variety of types of renewable energy harvest in the energy portfolio.

However the details of how it is put together, the target of a Feed-In Tariff is to see more rapid investment in sustainable, renewable energy than would occur if investors faced the risks of increased renewable energy supply pushing the price of power below renewable energy equipment replacement costs.

Net-metering has a different starting point. It is focused on protecting the rights of electrical utility customers to draw on the grid when they need it, and provide their power back to the grid when they have a surplus. It is typical for the payment to the customer for power to be at a lower rate than the retail price of power to the customer. At a more aggressive form of the system, the difference is based on the charge included in the bill for use of the grid itself, with the charge added to the retail rate when the customer is using power off the grid, and deducted from the rate when the customer is providing power to the grid. However, it is obviously to the benefit of the utility, and therefore a less effective protection of customer rights, if an additional differential between charges can be introduced.

In more conservative forms of the system, net-metering only acts as a deduction on the utility bill, so a $0 utility bill is the largest effective return on the installation, no matter its capacity, while in more aggressive forms of the system customers may be paid a rebate check in months when their sales to the utility exceed their purchases.

Because of the much greater uncertainty regarding system paybacks when solar PV is installed under a net-metering system, areas that rely on net-metering have seen the rise of solar leasing companies, which lease the right to install PV capacity on a utility customer's rooftop, with the cost of the installation and an additional return on the leasing company's investment going to the leasing company out of the payment made for the power produced by the rooftop power. By contrast, the experience in European countries with national Feed-In tariff policies and the financial security that they provide is that a property owner can simply go to the bank and finance the installation of rooftop solar.

The flipside of that is, of course, that the leasing companies are aggressive advocates for the superiority of net-metering over Feed-In Tariffs. , which may be responsible for driving the controversy. For example, quoted in a piece at theenergycollective on the Gainseville, Florida Feed-In Tariff program:

The Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) program “came to a screeching halt, it’s over,” said The Alliance for Solar Choice President Bryan Miller. “This shows that FITs don’t build a long term durable market,” added Miller, a VP for the residential solar installer and third party ownership fund manager Sunrun. “Real people are losing real jobs because there is no Gainesville feed-in tariff anymore.” / Gainesville’s City Commissioners voted in December to suspend the tarifffor 2014. GRU will not provide the over-retail rate for solar-generated electricity that has driven the installation of fifteen-plus megawatts of capacity since 2009.
It is, of course, a bit deceptive to say that Gainsville's Feed-In Tariff program has "come to a screeching halt" ~ Gainesville was successfull in hitting the target capacity for their Feed-In Tariff program, so its closed to new systems, but the existing systems continue to generate solar power for Gainesville and continue to be paid at the Feed-In Tariff rate. Of course, if the system had been set up as a retrogressive Feed-In Tariff, once it had hit the target for the original rate, a new target would be set at a lower rate, and it would continue accepting systems under that lower rate. However, it is true that under net metering, while adoption of solar PV in Gainesville would have proceeded at a slower pace, it also would not have faced a cap in terms of installed capacity.

 
Girding Our Solar Loins to Fight for Homeowners Rights

Of course, ALEC doesn't care whether rooftop solar is being installed under Feed-In Tariff policies or net-metering policies.

We do have to continue to advocate for Feed-In Tariffs on the utility scale Wind and Concentrated Solar Thermal Power (CSP, I guess because the 'concentrate' kind of already implies the 'thermal') ... but these are areas of the renewable industry that are not going to face internal controversy over net-metering versus Feed-In Tariffs, as these are produced at wholesale levels and connect into the system as wholesale energy producers.

However, it seems politic to focus on net-metering at the household level at present, precisely because net-metering is, at heart, a protection of homeowner rights. Advocates of policies that promote adoption of solar power have a natural coalition of supporters of policies to fight the Climate Suicide club, traditional conservation advocates concerned with the wide range of environmental and ecological damage caused by coal and natural gas production. To this "Green" side of a coalition can be added a "Blue" side among those who would gain employment in the activity of solar panel installations.

Pursuing the fight along the lines of net-metering for household renewable energy production on fair terms without abusive "grid overhead" charges on owners of rooftop PV systems allows us to move beyond our base coalition to include outer suburban and exurban Republican leaning independent homeowners that are the the most brittle portion of aggressive pro-Republican gerrymanders.

We can see that wedge at work in the so-called "Green Tea" splinter in Georgia, where the "competition" propaganda messaging that industry groups have been using to fight regulation of their abuses can come back to bite the hand that propagated them:

Dooley [founder of the Green Tea coalition and co-founder of Atlanta Tea Party Patriots] said the growing use of solar power is pressuring utilities to open their grids to other energy sources that may become even cheaper in the next few years. Customers should have a choice of buying electricity from the grid or making their own at home. “There’s no competition here,” Dooley said in an interview. “Solar is our only way to force them to compete.”
And we can see the fingerprints of the solar leasing companies in this activity as well:
The odd-couple partners also are working to overturn a Georgia law that bars third parties from owning residential rooftop solar projects. The rule keeps developers such as SolarCity from installing rooftop panels at little cost to customers in return for revenue earned from selling solar power over the lifetime of the panels. That forces consumers who want rooftop power systems to shoulder all upfront costs and makes solar prohibitively expensive for most households. Republican lawmakers are discussing lifting a similar ban in North Carolina, where Ruth Samuelson, a Representative from Mecklenberg, helped fight off attempts to gut the state’s renewable energy mandate earlier this year.
This is, of course, primarily a temporary alliance of convenience and not the basis for a permanent political realignment. A permanent political realignment building on wedging some portion of the current "Tea Party" faction would have to find a sustainable way to shift their focus from elected public government to the unelected private governments running transnational corporations, which are effectively manipulating the faction despite being a far more direct example of "government abuse of power" than the elected public governments that are the focus of the "Tea Party" factions attention.

However, given the way that success on this issue can shift the underlying political terrain, it is still well worthwhile. Just as one example, a collection of effective net-metering installation enterprises across the Southeast would also provide a platform from which to push for broader Connie Mae finance of higher cost-to-buy, lower cost-to-own energy conserving home improvements, the next time that an oil price shock and energy price crisis brings that issue back to the front of political debate.

 
Conclusions & Considerations

So, that is what's on my mind this week in the sustainable energy and transport policy arena. What's on your mind?

As always, rather looking for a more ringing conclusion that that, I now open the floor to the comments of those reading.

If you have an issue on some other area of sustainable transport or sustainable energy production, please feel free to start a new main comment. To avoid confusing me, given my tendency to filter comments through the topic of this week's Sunday Train, feel free to use the shorthand "NT:" in the subject line when introducing this kind of new topic.

If you have a topic in sustainable transport or energy that you want me to take a look at in the coming month, be sure to include that as well.

And, unlike some other regular online communities, no need to introduce yourself or justify your participation first: just jump right in and start participating. Your presence here is sufficient justification.

Originally posted to Sunday Train on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 06:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Climate Hawks, Climate Change SOS, Kosowatt, and Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Oh My God, have you heard the terrible news ... (167+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, ctsteve, justintime, jwinIL14, Lorikeet, HoundDog, Kombema, triv33, Assaf, psyched, DavidMS, James Wells, Marihilda, SpecialKinFlag, tofumagoo, oldpotsmuggler, ek hornbeck, poligirl, Buckeye Nut Schell, JeffW, enhydra lutris, genethefiend, gooderservice, Rosaura, HeyMikey, kevinpdx, jamess, DeadHead, FindingMyVoice, Yellow Canary, mookins, ARS, AdamR510, TheMomCat, illegal smile, bronte17, fixxit, OLinda, eyesoars, eOz, Alumbrados, peptabysmal, nirbama, thomask, peachcreek, Bule Betawi, JayDean, NBBooks, ModerateJosh, MadMs, PeterHug, wu ming, RunawayRose, Egalitare, wader, Sandino, CA ridebalanced, tommymet, 2thanks, TheDuckManCometh, blackjackal, LinSea, jes2, priceman, defluxion10, northsylvania, Calamity Jean, political junquie, davespicer, teabaggerssuckbalz, fcvaguy, Skyye, Shelley99, cordgrass, Tortmaster, golem, Syoho, rapala, ifthethunderdontgetya, AnnCetera, GDbot, temptxan, Habitat Vic, eagleray, NoMoreLies, Pilotshark, hlsmlane, willyr, Ray Pensador, MKinTN, Just Bob, PhilJD, jrooth, LookingUp, divineorder, tle, indie17, JayRaye, cv lurking gf, Ashaman, artisan, SCFrog, Jakkalbessie, Airmid, NYFM, Liberal Thinking, TX Freethinker, We Shall Overcome, petulans, sostos, Gary Norton, DeminNewJ, TomP, RUNDOWN, letsgetreal, ferg, spacecadet1, semiot, Powered Grace, aznavy, HedwigKos, hungeski, Don midwest, Lily O Lady, Panacea Paola, antooo, science nerd, ColoTim, socal altvibe, rb608, offgrid, LaughingPlanet, side pocket, nosleep4u, Sychotic1, cocinero, Railfan, Eikyu Saha, bfitzinAR, SolarMom, Brian82, DRo, Magnifico, cumberland sibyl, VTCC73, FishOutofWater, SouthernLiberalinMD, anodnhajo, boatjones, Dolphin99, rat racer, triplepoint, Rashaverak, pcl07, Turbonerd, Meteor Blades, happymisanthropy, StrayCat, Another Grizzle, ichibon, bbctooman, Steven D, TKO333, 207wickedgood, David54, realwischeese, Eric Nelson

    ... fossil fuel wealth owners?

    Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

    by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:31:55 PM PST

  •  Thanks for this most outstanding and important (61+ / 0-)

    post. This dastardly attack by ALEC must be opposed urgently and intensely. Much more intensely than we have resources for, but we will have do the best we can.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:01:48 PM PST

    •  ALEC's actions are a great specimen of (39+ / 0-)

      the type of actions by vested interests warned about in classical republican theory. The difference between a politician and a statesman is that where a politician is likely to be corrupted by vested interests and do their bidding, the statesman is knowledgeable about the cutting edge of science and technology, and is thinking about how the incipient new capabilities can be directed and used to solve various problems. Actually, what's even more likely about a politician, then a corruptible nature, is a facile ignorance of the problems needing to be solved, and a hostile disregard for the current state of science and technological development.

      As I have argued before, the most important economic activity a society undertakes is the development and furtherance of science. Because it is advances in scientific knowledge that allow us to overcome the physical boundaries of resource limitations and avoid the Collapse Jared Diamond writes about.

      (It was no coincidence that so many of the US founders were also scientists or deeply interested in science. The leading example, of course, was Benjamin Franklin, who was the equivalent of a Nobel prize winner today. There was Jefferson, with his interests in botany, agriculture, geometry, architecture, astronomy, and other areas, and Joseph Warren, one of the leading physicians of the time - and at that time, medicine was one of the major areas of natural sciences. Little know today is Washington's application of scientific methods of research and observation to agriculture at Mt. Vernon. The Political Enlightenment and the Scientific Enlightenment reinforced each other.)

      Once you begin to understand the foundation of classical republicanism that informed the Revolution, and the framing of the Constitution, you begin to understand how utterly treacherous, almost treasonous, people and groups like the Kochs and ALEC really are. If there were justice in this life....

      A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

      by NBBooks on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 09:42:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm republishing this is Kosowatt. Are you (28+ / 0-)

    already a member?  If not I can make you an blog-editor so you can directly publish your own articles.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:03:15 PM PST

  •  Been waiting 35 years for the PV tipping point . . (26+ / 0-)

    . .  now it's here but alas, fossil heads obstruct the transition to a clean energy future for the planet.

    It would be interesting to draw a line for wind power on the logarithmic chart to find the "tipping point" for wind electric systems.  I suspect wind electric's tipping point was reached 5-10 years ago.  Any data on this?

    Why aren't the financial wizards tripping over each other to invest in clean energy?  I've never understood this.

    Great diary, Bruce!

  •  I don't quite follow the jump (10+ / 0-)

    from your excellent discussion of feed-in tariffs to your conclusion that " it seems politic to focus on net-metering at the household level at present". A little mere depth in that reasoning would be helpful.

    Certainly your comment that in Hawai'i solar has become cheaper than conventional sources is on point. Photovoltaic panels now decorate the roofs of pretty much any business that makes financial decisions based on a cost/benefit analysis - even supermarkets have concluded that installing solar panels provides a better return than investing in expansion or increasing product lines. Government buildings, too, have become power generators - there is something exhilarating about seeing a traditional symbol of oppression like a police station decked out in solar arrays.

    I do have a comment about one of your charts, though. It shows the price per watt of a photovoltaic cell to be over $76 in 1977. I worked for a company called National Solar in 1976; we sold solar cells for science projects at $10 a watt, retail. Possibly the chart compares prices in constant 2014 dollars, however $10 in 1976 is about $41 today. Just saying, I don't think the drop has been quite as dramatic as shown.

  •  Green energy becoming grid competative (14+ / 0-)

    may have some broad reaching effects.  

    For instance, some of the green tea groups having been exposed to progressives and realizing we don't have horns and a tail make working with them on other projects easier.  It may also lead to a few of them moderating their political views.  Or at least experiencing some cognitive dissonance.  

    I'm a 4 Freedoms Democrat.

    by DavidMS on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:17:46 PM PST

  •  I really have to question that graph (4+ / 0-)

    First, because the data is unsourced (even in the linked article the data is unsourced).
    Second, because the y-axis seems to be logarithmic, yet it starts at zero (an impossibility for a logarithmic axis). Is the part between 0 and $100 supposed to be linear, while the rest is logarithmic? One can only wonder.
    Third, because it uses very unconventional units: $/gigajoule. Seriously? Does anyone in the energy industry ever use $/gigajoule? (Just in case anyone wonders, a gigajoule is 277.78 kWh.)
    Fourth, because the data it purports to show tells us that the retail price of electricity is about $75/gigajoule. Or 26¢/kWh -- more than double the actual average US price.

    I gotta think somebody's not playing with a full deck of data.

    We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

    by Keith Pickering on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:24:08 PM PST

    •  I would presume that the ... (9+ / 0-)

      ... baseline would actually be 1, but can't be sure. The author of the Seeking Alpha piece seems to have taken that diagram from a piece that appeared on Resilience in April, 2013 ... the author of that post is on a kick of converting different energy commodities to their energy content.

      In the essay, I am not making any claims regarding the precision of his modelling of the energy cost of solar energy ~ indeed, as I argue, the actual transition point will vary from one locale to another based on the quality of the solar resource at that location and the cost of legacy sources of electrical power.

      But then, the precise timing of the transition is not as critical to me as it would be to the ordinary reader of Seeking Alpha, and in my view the full piece presents sufficient corroboration of its thesis that I am not going to quibble if it drew one of its illustrations from the work of an energy-currency advocate.
       

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 07:59:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In some areas of the U.S., due to rate design (3+ / 0-)

      the marginal price of a residential kwh for an upper-middle class home is above that level.  The rates are tiered so that bigger residential users pay higher rates and subsidize low-income and small users.  This is one of the ways that PV currently captures more than its actual societal value from residential ratepayers in California under current rate designs.  It does not actually reduce utility profits, since under the regulated utility model, rates must be set so that other ratepayers make up the difference.  This is something that will have to change as penetration increases and PV prices come down so that subsidies are less necessary.

      Note that typically, much of the value captured from other ratepayers is not gained by the system owner, but is captured by financial firms.  This is one of the drawbacks of the highly inefficient subsidy methods currently in use.

      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

      by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:31:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you (7+ / 0-)

    For this excellent diary

    "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." - Tom Robbins - Political Compass sez: -8.25, -7.90

    by ARS on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 08:20:25 PM PST

  •  This should be the headline, (7+ / 0-)

    because it should be what we are focusing on as the goal.

    Good news!  "We estimate renewables slowing the rate of natural gas demand growth from power generation to <0.5 bcf/d through 2020 versus our prior estimate of 1.0-1.2 bcf/d even when taking into account planned coal plant shutdowns and assumed nuclear plant retirements."

    Instead, I expect most of us read that as political in some way.

    I'm glad you mentioned the focus on government authoritarianism to the exclusion of corporate private "governments."

    Secrecy is a hot bed of vanity. - Joseph Brodsky They who have put out the people’s eyes reproach them for their blindness. – John Milton 1642

    by geomoo on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 08:25:37 PM PST

  •  I got lost reading about feed-in tariffs (6+ / 0-)

    perhaps you could provide an example. I wasn't sure if the energy "harvester" is the homeowner or utility, for starters.

    We are about to go solar as part of a roof replacement. We're looking at a 3.0 kW system (3000 kW/hrs/year) for over $14,000, with about 12k of tax breaks over the next five years for a net $2700, saving us about $300/year in energy costs by net metering.

    We'd make our money back in 7 years except we need to spend another couple of grand cutting down our big trees, so we'll break even in about 13 years. I'm going to miss some of those trees, we need their summer shade.

    I talked to the guys that install for free and then sell you discounted power, but I'd rather use our local roofers.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 08:26:15 PM PST

    •  The energy harvester in that discussion .... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      divineorder, Just Bob

      ... is the actual equipment that physically collects the sustainable, renewable energy. It could be provided to the utility by the owner of a wind farm or by the owner of a hydropower dam or by a household that has a rooftop photovoltaic installation.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 10:15:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Where are you that you (4+ / 0-)

      are only getting 1000 kwh/yr per installed kw?

      I would bet a bit of money that you could reduce energy consumption by more than this production, for an investment far less than the cost of the PV in this case.

      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

      by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:11:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  near Portland Ore., benamery21 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        divineorder, Another Grizzle

        Earlier, we had an energy "auditer" tour the house, we got rid of the fridge in the garage, installed low energy appliances, and so on but energy use didn't fall much.

        Thanks for your comment, I'd like to look into this. Can you suggest a source for what generation would be more typical for an installed kw?

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:39:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In Portland that may be about right (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          divineorder, side pocket

          I'd have to check.  In AZ and SoCal, double that isn't unusual.  My Dad has installed small systems that got 2400 and he's never gotten less than 2000, but it's a very different insolation regime.  For a well-designed and located system you will typically do a little better than reputable utility/installer estimates (they don't want to overpromise).  That close to the coast I expect the exact location will make a difference.  I looked at a couple of websites which show 60-63% of the areas I'm familiar with for Portland.  That's also similar to the ratio of 1000/1600 where 1600 is the utility guesstimate for PHX.  A good design and location should beat that.

          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

          by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 02:06:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  If you heat or cool at all (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          divineorder, side pocket, 6412093

          air infiltration and insulation are usually the biggest bang for buck places to look.    

          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

          by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 02:12:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for the information benamery (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Just Bob

            I did insulate most of the roof, the crawl space is the only remaining area.  But you point out a good issue, insulating every nook and cranny is a bigger bang for the buck.

            The energy "auditer" told me to block off a louvered vent to the attic to reduce air infiltration, it turned out to be an accidently disconnected return air vent.

            We've got good windows, although we could use more blinds and curtains.

            “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

            by 6412093 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 11:11:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  ground mount? (8+ / 0-)

      If you have the solar exposure on the ground, please consider a ground mount system instead of cutting your trees.  They are easier and cheaper to install and to maintain.  I hope this is an option for you, but if you have a small, shaded lot, perhaps not.

      My husband and I have installed about 9 systems to date, only one was a roof mount.  We really hate poking holes in perfectly good roofs!  One was a pole mount, dual-axis rotation due to lot shading.  This is the most expensive option of course, but better than cutting trees in New Mexico.

      good luck with your system!  Rene

      Do the best you can.

      by home solar on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:24:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the information, home solar (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Another Grizzle

        I'm very pained to cut down a lovely tree that shaded our house in the summer, but the southern portion of our lot is small, and probably too close to some large neighboring trees, for a ground mount.  

        I will ask our installer about that option, just for completeness.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 11:18:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You should get more than 3000 kWh per year with a (0+ / 0-)

      3 kW system, unless you don't live in a very sunny location?

    •  Note how the ... (11+ / 0-)

      ... author of the article while writing a traditional mess media "he said / she said" article also buys the industry line when calling net metering rebates a "subsidy".

      That is power being put on the grid that the power company is charging the consuming customers for ~ and since it is effectively being placed on the local substation grid without putting that load on the main grid, that requires less use of the grid than centrally generated power.

      Paying the coal power plants or hydropower generators for the power they provide that is paid for by customers would not be called a "coal subsidy" or a "hydropower subsidy".

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 10:13:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Net metering IS a subsidy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gzodik, misterwade

        energy is not the only cost of grid power or off-grid power.  Net metering values power produced at retail rather than wholesale prices, avoiding grid costs while relying on the grid.

        That doesn't make it a bad subsidy for an infant industry, within limits.

        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

        by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:15:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Isn't that an APS talking point? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BruceMcF, Another Grizzle, patbahn

          The mainstream media seem to have bought into that meme and it's become an ALEC talking point.

          There's some discussion here:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/...

          Renewable advocates point out that while distributed solar and other energy efficiency measures do pose a challenge to electric utilities' existing business model, the benefits of distributed generation outweigh the costs, and those benefits are shared by all ratepayers.[12] Grid benefits of private distributed solar investment include reduced need for centralizing power plants and reduced strain on the utility grid. Renewable advocates also point out that, as a cornerstone policy enabling the growth of rooftop solar, net metering creates a host of societal benefits for all ratepayers that are generally not accounted for by the utility analysis, including: public health benefits, employment and downstream economic effects, market price impacts, grid security benefits, and water savings.[13]

          A 2012 report on the cost of net metering in the State of California, commissioned by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), showed that those customers without distributed generation systems will pay $287 in additional costs to use and maintain the grid every year by 2020. The report also showed the net cost will amount to $1.1 billion by 2020.[14] Notably, the same report found that solar customers do pay more on their power bills than what it costs the utility to serve them (Table 5, page 10: average 103% of their cost of service across the three major utilities in 2011).[14]

          Illustrating the alternative view, an independent report conducted by the consulting firm Crossborder Energy found that the benefits of California's net metering program outweigh the costs to ratepayers. Those net benefits will amount to more than $92 million annually upon the completion of the current net metering program.[15]

          When the utilities accounting accentuates the negatives and eliminates the positives it distorts reality. Missing from the above discussion is that the power coming from rooftops is sold to other customers which adds to utility profits.

          Looking to the future we should be talking about using renewable energy systems with smart inverters that can be used to add to grid stability rather than placing roadblocks in the way.

          A discussion of using wind as a dispatchable resource can be found here:
          http://www.nrel.gov/...

          The same is true of rooftop solar:
          http://www.greentechmedia.com/...

          My apologies for the spamy links found at Green Tech Media, but it does illustrate the point.

          I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

          by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 09:12:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ALEC doesn't represent me, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Just Bob, misterwade, Another Grizzle

            and I don't pay attention to their talking points.  The fact that ALEC says something doesn't falsify it (stopped clocks and all that).  Internal cost-tracking at utilities is sometimes poor, and CPUC accounting of same is ludicrously bad.  Also, not all ramifications of gen are being handled pro-actively at utilities, they are learning as they go and there are internal and external politics involved.  I have written about this in various fora, but net metering cost benefit changes as penetration increases, for the individual project and overall.  There are projects where today benefit can be provided to the generator without disproportionate cost.  There are many projects where that is not true, and it will become less true on average as penetration increases.  I don't believe it is true today on the grids the CPUC considered, but it may be arguably true today in terms of cashflow.

            I see the incentive and regulatory structure as needing to continue to evolve with the market and the technology.  We are in a very different place than in 1998 (or each year since), when I began my utility-side involvement.  I have always believed some aspects of policy were counter-productive and others were cost-inefficient, but I support the existence of incentives (as needed to stimulate progress), and the internalization of externalizes like carbon.

            I need to leave it at that for now.  I work for a utility.  I had substantial involvement in developing early technical policy for certain types of DG and continue to have some involvement.  My comments here do not represent my employer in any way.  

            I am a strong supporter of DG, grew up in a house with solar DHW which now has PV (I rent), my father is a PV installation contractor, my brother lived off-grid with his family using wind and solar and batteries for multiple years, I have personally reviewed or supervised review of hundreds of interconnections and provided assistance to developers in navigating utility hurdles, I have close colleagues who are the current direct representatives of stakeholders in relevant working groups, I have multiple childhood friends who work in development at major inverter manufacturers..  Hear me when I say that the technical aspects of very distributed generation integration (ala NEM) are not trivial, not near fully dealt with, costly and not fully accounted for yet.  As penetration progresses, costs that have been ignored will be forced to the fore.

            Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

            by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:47:24 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Germany has done much of the needed work in (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Another Grizzle

              in this area. Of course we have a very different regulatory and political environment. My sense is much progress will made on some of these issues this year.

              I think the ALEC and APS moves are counterproductive and are intended to protect the status quo and gain additional profits unfairly. The higher connection fee they asked for regarding PV would be a show stopper. I can't even justify the modest fee that was approved. It's as if they're saying the present connection fee is for us to supply power to you and another fee is needed when you supply power is us. The same wires and grid are used in both directions.

              I do understand that there will be infrastructure costs incurred to manage distributed power systems. The utility scale project are easy in that regard. When we look at thousands of rooftops the communication network for smart inverters is on another order of magnitude but there are no technical limitations aside from the creation of standards.

              Do you have any sense that a different pricing structure will be required to account of varying levels of management features? If some PV capacity is held off line to allow the operators to compensate for load changes, should the providers (I'm thinking residential systems) receive some payment for the capacity that's available but isn't being used at the moment? Isn't that a standard practice for peaking units?

              I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

              by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 02:54:54 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  A couple quick hits (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                patbahn

                a monthly fee per kw of installed PV is not the ideal tariff model.  It's a compromise.  Personally I would prefer mandatory time of use, demand, and net billing with usage at retail rates and generation paid at avoided cost (with different pricing categories based on grid location and other parameters).  There are places gen actively hurts the grid, and places it helps as well.  Politically that's a non-starter.  Current connection fees do not generally cover connection costs (especially in CA which is geared to protecting access by the low-income, low-usage customer), they are partially covered by kwh rates.  The generation customers reduce their share of that cost coverage while their physical grid connection is unchanged or improved, and the idea is the monthly fee goes towards offsetting that, so that other ratepayers don't have to pick up the tab.  It's far lower than the value of the grid to the generator, but the standard should be cost not value for an IOU, and utilities have done a poor job of understanding and a worse job tracking, let alone supporting, grid costs.  I will note that the DRA in CA opposed the last hike in the NEM cap.

                Note that regulated utility profit should be unaffected by this fee, given how IOU's operate.  Increased revenue collection from NEM customers should be fully offset by reduced (or less increased) collection from other customers, via rate design.

                If reg down (for very local voltage excursions) or curtailment (for thermal limits) are required by local grid conditions, then no, the generators aren't paying for the grid that isn't built, so they shouldn't get paid for not being able to use it.  I would, however, support cheap investment in demand management to avoid such 'spill.'  If, however, grid level conditions require load following (reg down for over Hz) or 'spinning' reserve as a service and that is provided by DG via low latency comm, then yes, they should be compensated.  It would be very rare for PV to be the low bidder for these services unless it is massively overinstalled, since other generators/loads will have fuel savings gains instead of spill losses when providing these services.

                Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 03:35:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's an acronym jungle out there (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  patbahn

                  DRA = Division of Ratepayer Advocates  - antiquated
                  ORA = Office of Ratepayer Advocates - replaced DRA
                  IOU = investor owned utility
                  DG = distributed generation
                  PV = photovoltaic
                  NEM = net energy metering
                  GHG = green house gases

                  Now with that out of the way...

                  I recall you saying something to the effect that you were primarily involved in utility scale PV. I have no intention of denigrating utility scale. Utility scale generation is needed by large customers, does much to reduce GHGs and benefits all.

                  I think most of us here are more interesting in residential PV as a means to gaining some independence from utilities, but perhaps I should speak only for myself.

                  I can't afford solar myself, but if money wasn't a limitation I would like to have a system that could be run off grid with no compromise. Going for weeks without power following hurricanes did much to shape that perspective. The alternative would be a $30,000 whole house backup diesel generator.

                  I wouldn't mind sharing my energy under normal conditions but I'd get very selfish when the grid is down. I can't power the world. That said, battery backup would be required. Again if the utility would find my batteries useful under normal circumstances, I'd share but would expect a return on my investment. If the utility's use of my system resulted in a shortened life expectancy for any component in my system I'd expect to be made whole.

                  In a sense I feel as if utilities are playing the haves against the have nots. We're all in this together. The climate will change for all of us. The oceans will rise for all of us. When anyone installs PV on their house, it benefits all of us.

                  I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                  by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 05:53:24 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  After thirty years using stand-alone solar (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Just Bob, benamery21

                    I can assure you that the batteries are the weak point in the system. The huge advantage a grid-connected system has is that you don't need batteries. You "store" your excess production in the moment (sun shining) on the grid, then use it after the sun sets. If you are producing excess (at this point, when the cost of solar is still relatively high) and receiving a check from the utility, you have over-installed capacity.

                    If you have battery storage to cover "weeks without power following hurricanes" I see very little advantage to being connected to the grid.

                    •  I understand that NiFe batteries are best (0+ / 0-)

                      and as to advantage to being connected to the grid, that would be income. If the system can pay for itself over time, isn't that a good thing?

                      With batteries it may take 10 - 14 years for payback.

                      I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                      by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 07:23:49 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The system pays for itself in avoided costs, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Just Bob

                        through your not having to pay a utility bill. I doubt that (at this point) what you are paid for excess power you generate could justify the cost of excess capacity. If it could, then obviously you would want to cover every properly exposed inch of your property with cells for the maximum benefit. But even in the areas with the most expensive electricity I see the goal of distributed systems being to avoid buying electricity, not to be a power generator for the grid.

                        •  Oh, my...I wasn't thinking anything like that (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          patbahn

                          In Florida there's a 10kw limit on residential systems.

                          That should be enough to keep the AC running and if I needed to use the dryer I'd turn off the AC and do it at night.

                          OTOH, if I could find some suitable acreage, I could build a couple of greenhouses and call each of them a separate business. There's a 100kw limit on commercial systems. Then there's a problem of cable and high speed internet access in the boonies.

                          Have you got some good numbers for the next Powerball drawing?

                          I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                          by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:17:52 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  One of the first things you learn (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Just Bob, patbahn

                            using stand-alone solar is the value of a clothes line. The cost of enough panels to run an electric clothes dryer should be enough to convince anyone that they have always been a stupid idea, when a little wind, sun, and patience will dry your clothes for free.

                          •  Unless you suffer from chronic sinusitis and would (0+ / 0-)

                            rather keep all the pollen outside. In Florida it isn't unusual to find a heavy coating of green or yellow dust on everything.

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:43:41 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Being from one of the wettest parts of Hawai'i (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Just Bob, patbahn

                            I actually run my clotheslines inside. But you do need air circulation. An electric fan works, and is far more energy efficient than a dryer.

                          •  I think I want to be you. (0+ / 0-)

                            Color me green. Hawai'i  trumps Florida big time.

                            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                            by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 09:21:03 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Don't forget the benefit of ... (0+ / 0-)

                            ... a spin drier before putting the clothes on the line. It easily turns hours of drying time into a half hour or less.

                            Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                            by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 06:09:50 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  A number of HE washers (0+ / 0-)

                            have very high spin speeds that accomplish this function.

                            Of course, once again it requires a fair bit of energy to save that time; costly energy that it may not be necessary to expend.

                          •  Yes, though dedicated ... (0+ / 0-)

                            ... spin driers consume less power than a washing machine, so if the larger energy load of the washing machine and the smaller energy load of the spin drier press against the energy budget, it might not be the spin drier that is the principle problem.

                            Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                            by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 11:24:39 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Inverter capacitors are also a weak point. nt (0+ / 0-)

                      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                      by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:10:36 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  V2H, V2B, V2G it's a big deal (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Just Bob

                    very big deal

                    putting a plug in hybrid into the mix changes it all

                    •  No additional acronyms accepted without a (0+ / 0-)

                      glossary.

                      V2H = Vehicle-to-home
                      V2B = Vehicle-to-building
                      V2G = Vehicle-to-grid

                      The first one I can see. There could be times when your car battery could power the house following a hurricane. All the roads are blocked and you can't go anywhere anyhow.

                      The second one might be a little more questionable. I guess a gas station can use it to power the gas pumps following a hurricane.

                      The last one I've heard of but I'm not sure if that's a good idea. You could find yourself without power and without transportation.  If you run down your Leaf battery at work, how do you get home?

                      I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                      by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:27:25 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  it's not about 1 it's about many (0+ / 0-)

                        when you have lots of people doing it.

                        when 200 cars are plugged into an office building,
                        you have 2-3 MWH of surge capacity.

                        When you have 2 plugged into a gas station it's enough not just to run pumps buy air comperssors and computers.

                        Critical to keeping gas sales up while you restore the grid.

                        And when you have 10,000 plugged in, it's the
                        ability to change the grid dynamics

                        •  I can see the possibilities (0+ / 0-)

                          I'm still not sure how I get home after running down the Leaf's battery.

                          From a grid management perspective, it sounds like a nightmare.

                          I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                          by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:44:08 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  The thing is, if you get a discount on ... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Just Bob

                            ... power you draw in charging the car, and that is in return for offering capacity when plugging in, the system would have to work so you could specify how much capacity you are offering. Say you need your battery 60% charged for the commute home, you might only offer 20% of your fully charged capacity for the use.

                            Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                            by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 06:07:46 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Think Smart not stupid. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Just Bob

                            Let's say you have a Car with 75 miles range and some
                            25 KWH of battery in it.  Lets say your commute is only
                            20 miles.( 7 KWH).  

                            You charge up overnight. so you have 25 KWH in the battery.
                            You then drive to work 20 miles and get there at 9 AM.
                            You plug in you are at 18 KWH of storage.  

                            You start charging, at 6 KW (Level 2)  and within 1.2 hours
                            you are fully charged.

                            So it's 10 AM you have 25 KWH in the tank.

                            You have programmed your car and set up an account for
                            Grid stabilization and energy storage, with a little smart phone app.  You set a limit that your car will not provide more then 1500 Watts of power and that you have a hard requirement to keep the charge to 15 KWH, but in an emergency you will let it drop to 10 KWH but you sell those KWH at a $1/KWH.

                            So,  it's a real hot day, the grid needs a little bit of power
                            and it starts tapping 1.5 KWH/hour from your car and your
                            smart phone texts you letting you know the drain is started
                            and what the power remaining level is every 10%.

                            You hit 15 KWH and the drain stops and the car texts you that it's at 15 KWH, and holding.

                            Then at 1 PM disaster strikes, a sudden tree fall damages a key substation, the grid goes unstable.  A Grid emergency is declared, and they need power now.  Bling, your phone texts you that an emergency is on, drain is at 6 KW and the grid is now paying you $1 every ten minutes.  

                            20 minutes later, they have some peaker plants turned up, and the grid emergency ends.  you get a text that your
                            car is now at 13 KWH, the grid has paid you $2, and do you want to to a top up charge .

                            you specifiy that a holding charge is fine, you have no plans,
                            and go buy a cappucino with that money, or you specify
                            you'd like to get to 18 KWH before you leave at 5 PM because you have dinner plans and have to pick up your spouse.

                            the way V2G/V2B is going to work is only if there is lots of smart meters, smart apps, smart grid control, all working at light speed, and with people setting incentives, and real time market mechanisms

                            trust me, nobody would do V2G without knowing they benefit at least as much as the grid and the benefit will be money.

                  •  My utility side involvement includes (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Just Bob

                    review and supervision of review of hundreds of residential and small commercial scale systems, as well as early involvement in developing internal policies and standards for review and inspection of installs.  I also have reviewed dozens of utility scale projects up to 50MW (mostly under 20MW), and participated in integration and planning for integration of larger projects (multiple 100's of MW).

                    My install side experience tops out at 120kW for PV (with projects down to <1kw for off-grid control power) and at 2MW for non-renewable IC engine DG (backup, co-gen, and off-grid).  My advice has been sought on larger projects by industry colleagues.

                    Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                    by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:10:03 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I got so wrapped up in acronyms I forgot to (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  patbahn

                  respond directly to a couple of your points. I'm old. Cut me some slack.

                  ...the generators aren't paying for the grid that isn't built, so they shouldn't get paid for not being able to use it.
                  I didn't follow that at all. I suspect you're assuming I know something that I don't know.
                  very rare for PV to be the low bidder
                  I'm guess that with increasing penetration, residential PV can and will be used as spinning reserve with smart inverters. Am I wrong?

                  I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                  by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:01:44 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Seems likely that ... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Just Bob

                    ... windpower will increasingly be used as spinning reserve when they have wind, since without fuel costs they can afford to charge a lower rate for offering spinning reserve than coal power plants can.

                    And of course, for energy-surplus regions, one form of spinning reserve is selling power at a discount rate over longer haul transmission to smart-grid dispatchable consumption on the proviso that the power might be throttled down on short notice.

                    Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                    by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 06:04:46 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Fast demand management to provide regulation (0+ / 0-)

                      has been done for decades with large industrial loads in some areas (large synchronous pumps, for instance).  Longer timeframe (under half hour) distributed demand management has also been done for decades (both up and down via A/C and resistive heat loads).  Expansion of this to fast control of distributed heating and cooling loads is already under way in some areas, and I would expect that in 10 years it will be very widespread.

                      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                      by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:29:13 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  In the first quote (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Just Bob

                    the concept is of a local grid limitation requiring generator curtailment.  If the generators paid for an upgrade to the grid, they would be able to produce power and get paid for that.  If they don't pay for the upgrade, they shouldn't be paid for avoiding the cost of the upgrade.  This is a real issue and has been for many years for larger scale generation.

                    In the second instance the key concept is that a PV producer or wind producer that is providing reg down or spinning reserve is foregoing production for which they would be paid.  They reduce output from what they are able to instantaneously produce and without storage the sunshine or wind is wasted or 'spilled' in utility parlance (from hydro storage concepts).  This directly costs them money, and they should be paid for doing this if needed at a wide-grid level.  However, as long as there are hydro (with storage, not 100% run-of-river) or gas units on the grid, they will not likely be the low bidder since the hydro unit only postpones production rather than foregoing it (assuming storage isn't full and spilling), and the gas unit saves fuel (albeit reducing efficiency).

                    Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                    by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:22:45 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  My very limited understanding re residential PV (0+ / 0-)

                      would be regulation via adjusting power factor or voltage.

                      Conceptually I think of power factor adjustment as selectable capacitance that would affect the frequency. When there's a slight mismatch in frequency between the grid and the PV system, the PV system would still be phase locked to the grid, but would produce peak current at some point other than peak voltage. That would increase the operating temperature of the inverter and would negatively affect the mean time to failure.

                      I think of voltage regulation as a transformer with a number of taps selectable via a stepping motor. Obviously that wouldn't be the physical reality. There would be a control circuit that would ramp the voltage up or down at a predetermined rate of change and over a limited voltage range. If the system has battery backup that could affect the battery charge rate in some systems (those with micro-inverters on every panel). We wouldn't want to over charge or over heat the batteries. That may preclude the use of micro-inverters completely.

                      What makes either attractive to the grid operator is that the change is available nearly instantaneously and across a number of systems. While such control is good for grid stability, it carries with it the possibility of decreasing the reliability of the inverter. That's basically a design consideration but the owner of the PV system should be compensated both for the negative impact on system reliability and for the power that isn't taken by the grid operator (spinning reserve). That suggests a different price structure for power taken and spinning reserve or at least a difference between the remotely manageable inverters and older and simpler systems.  

                      I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                      by Just Bob on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 12:03:24 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  It is normal to require generators (0+ / 0-)

                        to be able to control power factor within reasonable limits without paying them, and none of them like to do it, this isn't just PV.  It's also normal in a lot of areas to require loads to maintain certain power factors or pay a penalty.  

                        I was talking about changes (reductions) in kw output.  KVAR buck/boost control I would never pay for.  The biggest reason to require it is offsetting the generator's own impacts.

                        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                        by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 12:22:22 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  We're not even talking apples and oranges (0+ / 0-)

                          We're talking elephants and mice.

                          You're talking about a sub-station switchyard.

                          I'm trying to discuss a new standard that may come into effect this year for smart inverters. I'm talking about a box hanging on the wall.

                          I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                          by Just Bob on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 02:17:28 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  No, I'm not talking substations (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm talking about requiring inverters to have the ability to vary power factor.  It's something I've been enforcing for inverter-based distributed export generation (WDAT's and such) for about a decade.  Extending that to small inverters and elaborating on the ability to remotely vary VAR requirements rather than operating on a fixed pf or fixed schedule and even 'active voltage control' contra original anti-islanding standards, is exactly what this is about (well part of it).

                            Controlling flicker and voltage rise caused by PV is an emerging problem, but not an unanticipated one.

                            Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                            by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 03:14:25 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

        •  There is a reason that the proposals are ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Just Bob

          ... to make lump sum charges for the presumed insurance effects, even in states where the grid charge is already separated from the power charge, so that the net metering could readily deduct the grid charge from power sold to the grid, as it adds the grid charge to power sold to the househould ... because the former is more effective at suppressing large numbers of small installations, which in turn are effective at building up the political clout of net metering guarantees.

          That is arguably overcharging household installations for grid use, but would be substantially less of a disincentive for household installations than the fixed charge ~ and is protected from egregious gouging by utility companies since the common grid charge typically remains subject to utility regulations, even when power supplier contracts have been partially deregulated.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:48:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  lies, damn lies and subsidy accusations. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BruceMcF

          a Solar PV array produces during peak hours.

          What is the average cost of a KWH at 1 PM in July?

          Sure isn't that Net Metered rate.

          •  On average PV production is worth more than (0+ / 0-)

            baseload wholesale power at the margin for present penetration levels.  That's not the same as saying it's worth more than summer retail rates in upper residential tiers, which is what it's valued at by the typical NEM install in California.

            Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

            by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:37:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  but now you are in a tariff discussion. (0+ / 0-)

              yeah, the Output retail rate in Net Metering may be
              higher then the average retail rate to residential
              but how does that compare to the average rate to
              TOU users?

              Seems to me the utilities are buying at retail then
              remarketing against TOU.  they may need to modify TOU to
              match solar PV hours, but, big retailers are going to self consumption models.

              Solar is too cheap to install, it's going to be going in
              more and more,  the issue is how we keep the utilities
              viable while growing Solar PV

      •  Net Metering (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Just Bob

        There are something like 48 states (and District of Columbia) which have net metering laws on the books.  To my mind, net metering is a basic necessity if you want to have a distributed grid with solar electric panels on rooftops.  Without net metering, any utility could refuse to take power from rooftop solar panels and thus require anyone who wanted solar electric power to double the cost of their installation by installing batteries and increase the size of their collector area to provide 100% of their power through sunlight.

        The costs of the use of wires and the grid as storage does not really become a problem for a utility until the solar contribution to the grid reaches 20% or so, based upon the experience of Denmark and Germany.  

        Utility companies around the world are trying to figure out how to survive as their business models need to change.  For instance, RWE, the second largest utility in Germany may become a third party funder of local solar and wind.

        •  RWE is in a difficult position (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Another Grizzle

          http://uk.reuters.com/...

          The fossil fuel providers are losing money but the base load capacity is needed. I have mixed thoughts on that problem. On one hand shutting down fossil fuel plants is a desired goal. On the other hand, we need to develop storage and dispatch ability for renewables such that they can provide that base load capacity. That seems doable.

          I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

          by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:04:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  We had "must-take" well before NEM, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ypochris

          since Carter, in fact.

          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

          by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:51:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Polluting energy corporations will never, ever (10+ / 0-)

    ..accept responsibility for negative externalities unless forced to by rule of law. Profit is God, and the planet and the people living on it can just suck it.

    Carbon emissions should have a steep price that reflects the damage they inflict - and people with rooftop solar are civilized as opposed to the savages cooking the planet for the almighty buck.

    Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies, We were roaring drunk on petroleum -Kurt Vonnegut

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 09:40:02 PM PST

  •  How Do You Respond to the Situation in Spain? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marsanges, NoMoreLies, patbahn

    From El Pais -

    Last year, some 1.4 million homes had their electricity cut off for non-payment. Two weeks ago, the government blocked an initiative to prevent utility companies from leaving families without electricity in winter.

    Spain's electricity bills are among the highest in Europe, having risen 60 percent between 2006 and 2012, with only the Irish and Cypriots paying more. Following two price rises in August and October, electricity companies announced just before Christmas that prices would go up a further 11 percent in January; in the face of the outcry that followed, the government intervened, preventing the increase.

    http://elpais.com/...
    •  That's the danger of relying too heavily ... (8+ / 0-)

      ... on imported coal and natural gas for power production and capping rate increases while costs of power rise at a faster rate ~ you'll note from the linked to article that 8% of electricity bills is debt service from the period when utility companies has to borrow to pay for power, due to the cap of no more than 2% per year, when the cost of natural gas peak power rose much more dramatically than 2% in Europe in the aftermath of the Iraq War, which pushed natural gas prices up in Europe in a way that we did not experience.

      The article follows the conservative government line that the FIT in Spain for wind, solar and hydro power is to blame, but if Spain had less wind, solar and hydro power installed today, as would be the case without the FIT, it would be in worse shape today, not better.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 10:45:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  El Pais Is Center Left - (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        benamery21, marsanges

        If anything, El Pais is accused of being a mouthpiece for the PSOE - not the current government.

        Although the solar program is not the only reason, it is one large piece - i.e. unsustainable subsidies when the government is broke and the economy cannot sustain the high cost of production.

        Spain's residential electric rates have risen from 18 eurocents to 40 eurocents between 2010 and 2013.  Unemployment in Spain is 25% - youth unemployment is nearly 50%.  That's 50 U.S. cents per KWH compare to a U.S. average of 12 cents.

        http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/...

        http://ec.europa.eu/...

        Were a similar increase to take place in the U.S., I can assure that the party associated with it would take a drubbing.  At the state and national levels.

        •  read closely (7+ / 0-)

          the article supports Bruce McF´s assertion that the deficit has to do just as much with fossil fuel prices as renewables subsidies.

          The story of how Spain acquired its tariff deficit is less than edifying. In 2002, the then-economy minister, Rodrigo Rato, decided electricity costs should not rise by more than two percent a year, even though production costs were higher. The reasons for this approach were varied: to keep inflation low, electioneering, and the need to improve Spain's industrial competitiveness.
          That was before the expansion of renewables; and then;
          The deficit was bearable until 2005 when production costs suddenly soared in the wake of the invasion of Iraq. Matters worsened in 2008 with new premiums on renewables.
          so it really isnt fair to lay this en bloc at the feet of renewables.
          In a scenario in which neither the electricity companies nor the state have shown any ability to plan for the future, it is hard to point the finger at any single culprit for the mess the sector is in. Furthermore, all parties accuse each other. The electricity companies blame renewable energy suppliers, which in turn reply that the premiums they are paid only account for 22 percent of the black hole, and that the electricity firms are simply trying to distract attention away from their excessive profits.
          if you read your article, it makes it quite clear that this is mostly a consequence of horribly botched public policy (including ideological swing elections).
          Hopes that the country's politicians might take action to resolve the sector's problems are made less likely by the fact that dozens of former ministers, secretaries of state, and senior civil servants of all stripes sit on the boards of the big five electricity companies, while others exercise considerable influence over the renewables sector, for which they are paid handsomely - some would say rewarded - for their services while in office.
          thats one of Spains bigger real problems.
          •  good rebuttal (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Just Bob, Another Grizzle

            Glad you picked up on that.

            “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

            by ozsea1 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:44:52 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The real problem in Spain (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            patbahn

            is the economy.  The problem with the economy is the euro, and the Germans.

            Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

            by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:15:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Did I Say "Only"? (0+ / 0-)

            Of course, in the United States high poohbahs in government don't collude with high poohbahs in the energy industry.  So that would be something unique to Spain, no?

            Still, when one subsidizes the cost of one form of electric generation - a small subsidy is another thing - well beyond the point of economic viability, then the results are almost certain to be negative.  Yes, the Spanish economy is devastated, but the approx. $40 billion (3% of GDP) total cost of solar supports doesn't help - esp. when Spain's credit rating has been lowered.  

            •  When you say economic viability ... (0+ / 0-)

              ... in this comment, you mean to say financial viability. The solar in Spain is not subsidized beyond the point of economic viability, but given under pricing of external costs of their natural gas electricity production and the political games they played in the Aughties which led to unfunded mandates to purchase power from all sources and sell it retail under cost ~ for which the primary financial indebtedness came from natural gas, which is in addition to the real unfunded indebtedness of the CO2 and CO2-equivalent emissions, rather than offset by avoided CO2 and CO2-equivalent emissions from the solar power.

              Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

              by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 05:56:15 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Electricity was pricy in california under Enron (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      benamery21

      there are lots of reasons for pricy electricity.

  •  Intermittency (9+ / 0-)
    So, what is ALEC's argument? The argument is that the solar power is intermittent, and so the capacity provided by the grid is acting as insurance to the household, and so the household that is producing its own solar power should pay for the privilege of also being connected to the grid.
    As a homeowner with solar panels, I have no issue paying for the cost of the grid. In Texas, I do. They have a separate line item in everybody's bill that charges for the grid cost and even the new smart meters. (It is a very small charge per month.)

    I also would not be adverse to paying for the cost of some amount of baseline power (once we reach a tipping point of a high amount of solar / wind), but the real question is how much "baseline" is actually needed for the combination of solar and wind. I think we see from Germany and a few midwestern states, that we can handle close to 50% renewables with intermittency not being a huge problem to overcome.

    The reverse argument is that coal and nuclear are "always on" power, so in reality, we are all paying for that power even when we do not need it. (This is one reason why we are seeing more nuclear reactors closing than opening and zero new coal plants.) In reality, the utilities should be racing to solar, so they can hold onto their centralized power model even longer.

    Once batteries are tied into a distributed system, then that centralized model will buckle under the strain of losing too many customers. The utilities will eventually lose this game, but they are trying their best to delay the inevitable.

    Good diary!

    •  Intermittancy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gzodik

      Solar heat power stations can store heat to generate electricity during the night. With a properly integrated system this can provide a significant amount of the base load throughout the day. Overnight usage is usually much lower than during the working day.

      What you do (as proposed for the EUMENA area by Desertec Foundation from Germany) is to spread these over desert areas from east to west (ie across the Middle East and North Africa) which is then exported to the EU where it forms part of the mix of wind, tidal, wave, biomass and nuclear to avoid the use of fossil fuels. Solar heat stations's collectors or mirrors are much easier to produce locally than PV and does not rely on rare earth elements that also have a finite supply.

      Promoting one option over others is foolish because it invites this sort of "divide and rule" by opponents. You may note I included "nuclear" in my mix of non-fossil. This should not be discounted as there are both continuing stations and the possibility of fusion in the long term and thorium fuelled fission in the shorter term. Both these avoid the understandable reservations over long term storage of current waste however it is current waste. It is not going away (in more senses than one) so objecting to its continued use seems a bit of a stretch.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 05:59:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good comment, until you went nuclear (4+ / 0-)

        The current nuclear power busines model is not cost efficient.

        and "objecting to it", in light of its dismal safety record, is most decidedly NOT a stretch.

        “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

        by ozsea1 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 06:52:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Perhaps badly put (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gzodik, ssgbryan

          The "dismal safety record" claim needs to be examined in the  light of actual experience. Just yesterday there was a diary recording the deaths of over a hundred miners in one accident in the early 1900s. In 1966 a landslide in a colliery waste tip caused the death of 144 people including 116 children buried in a local school in Aberfan, south Wales.  Many are killed in coal mining each year.

          As well as deaths in extracting coal there is the further impact of using it - look at China where in one city they are installing special giant TV screens so the population can watch the sun rise and sun set that is invisible because of the pollution. Earlier this month thousands in the USA had to stop using tap water because of contamination from chemicals used in coal production.

          The use of food crops for "green" fuels causes deaths elsewhere from starvation.

          Nuclear has had several notable accidents - perhaps notable because they are so rare in comparison to other types of fuel? They also have to be put in context. Perhaps the worst and most iconic accident was at Chernobyl:

          Within three months of the Chernobyl accident, a total of 31 people died from radiation exposure or other direct effects of the disaster, according to the NRC, UNSCEAR and other sources. More than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer may eventually be linked to radiation exposure in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, though the precise number of cases that are directly caused by the Chernobyl accident is difficult (if not impossible) to ascertain.
          In contrast, China reported 6027 accidental deaths to coal miners in 2006.. That is quite apart from the industrial diseases prevelant among coal miners.

          I am afraid I am old enough to remember when the great hope for future fuel was tokamak based fusion which was promoted as being only 20 or 30 years away. That was 40 years ago and it still is. I have come to the conclusion I will never see its widespread use for commercially viable stations. That does of course not mean that research and development should be abandoned.

          Fission power cannot be wished away like, I am afraid, many in the environmental movement pretend. There is a legacy of waste and contamination which has to be dealt with whether the stockpile is added to or not. Equally the operation of such stations needs proper oversight and training of the staff. The alternative I suggested is at the stage of upscaling to commercial operation. It works in test reactors and produces no long-term contamination and no by-products that can be used for weapons.

          There is no perfect solution in the short/medium term but only a series of rather stark choices. Is a new nuclear station, with all the design and safety improvements that have been developed in the past few years, preferable to loosing mountain tops and forests for open cast coal? Or committing biocide on the Chinese mainland with air and water pollution from coal burning preferable to finding a solution to long term storage of waste?  

          Nuclear contamination is scary because it is a (relatively) new threat and is invisible. It is linked with the experience of nuclear weapons. There is also the continued conflation between weapons and peaceful use (witness the Iran situation). If thorium fuel takes away the long term problems, we will be left with a finite amount of material to deal with. We have already left a legacy for perhaps 100 generations. Is this better worse than leaving a planet where global warming has led to a mass extinction, including most of the human population?

          We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

          by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:38:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  not the binary choice (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Just Bob, offgrid

            as you've represented it.

            There are other and better options than what the nuclear power industry currently offers the marketplace today.

            “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

            by ozsea1 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:50:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Which was rather my point earlier (0+ / 0-)

              The option is not "no nuclear" vs "all nuclear" but whether conventional fission should be considered as part of the mix as a temporary measure while other, cleaner, alternatives are developed.  I was looking at two and in particular one where the dangers have been known very long term vs one where the risks are over or under stated by either the opponents or proponents. Despite China being the largest producer of PV (and having to reduce capacity), I am afraid the reality there IS the choice between coal and nuclear for most of its base load.

              You have to look at all non-fossil alternatives and utilize both the most efficient and those which are politically viable. My own preference is the mix suggested by Desertec particularly as it has considerable benefits for the MENA countries where production and maintenance/running jobs could transform their economies.  It also recognizes that there is a need for a mix of renewables.

              Much as I would like the HVDC infrastructure and the solar stations, together with the other generating they throw into the mix, in place now; they are not. It's likely to be another couple of decades before that gets to the stage of replacing fossil/conventional nuclear generation. We have legacy of old nuclear stations and their waste. They are not going anywhere soon. So the question is whether replacing these on the same site with newer designs with better safety measure would be preferable to leaving them to grow more unsafe as they age.

              The nuclear power stations we have today were not designed to generate power so much as produce fissionable material for nuclear weapons. Thorium makes that difficult if not impossible and is more plentiful than uranium. It's even a by-product of mining rare earths. Work currently going on is hoped to lead to it directly replacing uranium. If that can be achieved in a relatively short period I see no reason for attempting a wholesale change of fuel which would end the additions to the current waste stockpile which will have to be managed over millennia to a method where all the radioactivity dissipates over 400-500 years and would present little actual risk after 100-200. That is a far more practical proposition (even if it does not to the average American) It is the sort of time scale libraries have many books from and the timescale envisaged for the gardens in English country houses to reach full maturity.

              (BTW, all of this must go hand in hand with usage reduction which is perhaps more important than what is used to generate it.)

              We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

              by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 09:39:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think that the nuclear power industry (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Just Bob

                won't get its act together in any kind of time needed to respond to climate change.

                Renewables are gaining fast; a timeline that will them a much safer and more effective bet.

                And this line:

                It's likely to be another couple of decades before that gets to the stage of replacing fossil/conventional nuclear generation.

                Is the same misguided and misdirected industry talking point, the main purpose of which is to keep and and expand marketshare and profitability.

                See the Koch Brothers and The Suicide Pact, which this diarist has gone into some detail to describe.

                Conservation give a great return on climate change inverstment, sure. But that alone may reach the point of diminishing returns as long as global population continues to grow at its current rate.

                “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

                by ozsea1 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:05:23 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  For the US, given our propensity ... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Just Bob, ozsea1, ypochris

                ... to take reckless actions overseas that generate a fierce desire among some of those affected to strike back at the US, whether a nuclear fuel cycle is robust against both sabotage and conventional proliferation challenges is surely a consideration that the US must in particular make. Given the abundance of our renewable resources relative to our population, a pedal to the metal ramp up of renewable power resources may be a less risky approach than a "nuclear bridge" option.

                Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                by BruceMcF on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:39:46 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Good luck. (0+ / 0-)

                For whatever reason the 'coal is magnitudes worse than nuclear' discussion doesn't gain much traction here at DKos.

                As far as fusion, its funding tanked in the 80's, and has flatlined since, well below what scientists claimed was needed for actual energy development on any reasonable timescale. It still has issues it needs to overcome, but a reasonable budget is a necessary element.

              •  all reactors have residual heat problems (0+ / 0-)

                takes months to shut them down

          •  Fukushima (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ozsea1, patbahn

            The worse accident was and is Fukushima. And, the whole story has not been written yet.

            If we did not have the combination of wind and solar working today, while proving that they can be the major energy sources, then nuclear would be in the lead discussion as a replacement for fossil fuels.

            But, that is simply not reality.

            •  Rubbish (0+ / 0-)

              Chernobyl released more radiation (about double) and covered a far wider area (500 Km vs 60 Km). The total exclusion zones were 30Km in the Ukraine vs 20 Km in Japan although the Japanese area was more populous and initially more were relocated - the numbers relocated after both is more or less the same.  

              Air borne radiation from Chernobyl covered most of Europe. While I agree that there has been release into both the groundwater and the sea at Fukushima, to pretend that it was a more significant event, even though it has the same INES level flies in the face of the facts.

              We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

              by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 09:57:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think you'll appreciate this (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1

                I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:24:26 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not very (0+ / 0-)

                  I am geoblocked from accessing it

                  We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

                  by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:29:10 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Try accessing the article through BBC news (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ozsea1

                    I accessed the article from here:
                    http://www.bbc.co.uk/...

                    Look at the right side bar for "Elsewhere on the BBC".
                    It's the video with an old woman eating and a man in a hazmat suit. It's in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

                    I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                    by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:49:59 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Seriously, rubbish? (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ozsea1, ypochris, patbahn

                You disagree. No reason to be impolite about it.

                My point is that the whole story on Fukushima has not been written yet. There is still a lot of clean up that must be done and an accurate assessment of the damage to both land and sea. What it did was kill any potential of that industry resurrecting itself in many countries. It literally shut down all of the nuclear reactors in both Japan and Germany.

                The total exclusion zones were 30Km in the Ukraine vs 20 Km in Japan although the Japanese area was more populous and initially more were relocated - the numbers relocated after both is more or less the same.  
                One other minor point: Japan is an island. A little more difficult to relocate.
                •  Literally shut down all the reactors? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  patbahn

                  in Germany? No, not yet.

                  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

                  The share of electricity generated from coal rose in Germany last year as the country seeks to achieve its ambitious aim of switching off all nuclear power plants by 2022.
                  As far as Japan goes:

                  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/...

                  The Abe administration, which now calls nuclear power an “important baseload power source” for the nation’s energy supply stability, says it is ready to reactivate reactors that have passed the NRA’s examination once the consent of local authorities hosting the power plants is obtained.
                  Whether you think it's good or bad is one thing, but your actual facts seem to be a bit lopsided. Let's stay reality based, ok?
                  •  Germany and Japan (0+ / 0-)

                    The reason that Germany's coal production rose is due to their ability to export their power to other EU countries. They have needed less energy in their own country due to wind and solar, but they are still making money selling their coal outside of the country. They have too much "base power" with all of the solar coming on during the day. A nice problem to have, if you want to turn off fossil fuels.

                    Germany is in the "process" of shutting down their nuclear power plants. They are also building a handful of new coal power plants, but these will replace older ones. The net will be less pollution and less contribution of coal. I believe they are building around 10 GW of new coal, but eliminating 14 GW of old coal plants (and a higher percentage of pollution). This was in process even before the Fukushima incident and Germany's decision to go away from nuclear.

                    Japan has been on a tear with new solar. I believe they are up to 4 GW. I might be premature to say that Japan is getting off nuclear, but public opinion probably will keep most if not all plants shut down. They might limp by for awhile with turning on some of the nuclear, but I doubt that Japan forgets what took place at Fukushima. How many times can a country have a bad experience with atomic energy?

                    The technology for wind, solar and geothermal are here today. Battery is longer term, but coming. I am not sure why we want to keep talking about breakthroughs (fusion or thorium) that will take decades before they come to fruition - if they do and will still have cost and implementation issues.

                    But, be my guest.  The floor is yours.

                    •  Very well (0+ / 0-)

                      I responded to a post that said Fukushima 'literally shut down' nuclear power in Germany and Japan, which is a far cry from the actual situation on the ground.

                      I tend to agree with your follow up post, though I am slightly less optimistic about Germany curtailing its coal use.

                      I don't dispute that the technology for wind and solar are here today. Geothermal likely isn't going to be a large player. I'm very supportive of wind (more than solar), considering its lower costs and the fact it doesn't have to deal with the nasty chemicals of the semiconductor industry.

                      That said, I'm in favor of an 'all of the above' approach because generally development and implementation of one power technology does not hamper R&D and implementation of another. That's the fastest way to get rid of the biggest killer of them all: coal.

                      The reason why we should be still talking about breakthroughs is that according to all the NREL and other reports I've read, there will still be fossil fuel power generation decades from now. Solar and Wind (and others) will not be 100% in the next two decades, or three, or four.

                      •  Futures (0+ / 0-)

                        First, for the western half and the southeastern portion of the US, there is no reason at all that we cannot get to 70 to 80% of renewables (if not higher) in the next three decades. States like Iowa, South Dakota and Texas are showing that it does not take much effort to get into the 15% to 25% of renewable energy just using onshore wind.  

                        We can get there with smart grids, a real effort on solar, efficiency enhancements on buildings, offshore wind and geothermal, and battery futures.

                        I don't believe we have to get rid of all of the fossil fuels by 2050. Natural gas will be around and I doubt we will see any laws written that suggests it all has to stay in the ground. However, it makes the climate change situation a lot less difficult if we are dealing with 20% fossil rather than 75% fossil in the US today.

                        China is going to be the bigger problem, but the problem with nuclear figuring into the solution continues to be the water resources that are required. That, and I am scared to death how the Chinese would handle a problem with one of their reactors.

                        •  The conventional natural gas ... (0+ / 0-)

                          ... in the United States at least will be a small trickle by 2050, so if we have banned fracking production by that time due to the unjustifiable intensity of its consumption of water resources, that would more likely account for 2% than 20%.

                          And otherwise we'll be on the far side of peak fracked natural gas anyway, so if we have elected to burn through to disaster rather than halt the production of a resource that is no worth it in terms of total resources destroyed in the process, we'll also not have very much natural gas production, just with a more catastrophically altered climate to show for it.

                          Indeed, if we are on track to get to 20% fossil fuel use by 2050, then by 2040 the political clout of the Climate Suicide producers versus the sustainable renewable producers would mean that it ought to be a political piece of cake to go to a less destructive 0% in 2050 instead. Now to 20%, 20% to 50%, 50% to 80%, those all involve substantial hurdles to cross ... 80% to 100% is not a threshold, its just being a little bit more serious about it.

                          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                          by BruceMcF on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 11:38:46 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  I would be interested in your dissection of the (0+ / 0-)

                        projections I linked to above, one suggesting 34% renewables by 2030, and another 100%.

                        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

                        by Mokurai on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:48:33 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

              •  i think you underestimate Fukushima. (0+ / 0-)

                Chernobyl was 1 reactor burning,

                Fukushima was 4-10.

              •  Both got to be disasters from direct mismanagement (0+ / 0-)

                Chernobyl was supposed to be a demonstration of safety systems that got out of hand during the setup process, before the test was even supposed to begin. Fukushima would not have been a problem if the backup generators had been above the level that was inundated, or if there had been a way to bring in power from outside to run the cooling systems. It isn't as though nobody in Japan had ever heard of a tsunami.

                They could have been operated safely. They were not. Just like both NASA Space Shuttle disasters. Just like the plutonium Demon Core fatalities, numerous mine disasters, clothing factory fires, GunFail shootings, and so on and so on.

                It is not good enough that the technologies can be run safely.

                Famous last words:

                Trust me. I know what I'm doing.

                Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

                by Mokurai on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:44:53 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Couple of points (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ypochris, patbahn

        I actually like the concept of the CSP. This would have been the best approach for the utilities to take early on, but the problem is that location is key for CSPs. They need to be built in the southwest U.S. That does not help the northeast utilities.

        Storing energy (CSP) is not as big of a concern when you mix wind with solar, especially in the western half of the US. Solar needs help in the early evening, which is precisely when wind kicks in. Plus, we are seeing more midwestern states (Oklahoma and Texas) trying to export wind to their southern states that don't have consistent wind. Again, all of this becomes moot once we have batteries for both wind and solar PV.

        The rare earth material argument is an old canard. The materials used in panels are not in short supply nor are they "rare earth." Indium, gallium and tellurium are found all over. The problem is that the Chinese prices are so cheap, that nobody else wants to spend the money to mine for them. Batteries and wind turbines are a different story (they do presently use rare earths), but technologies are changing rapidly in those areas.

        I'd be happy to get into a dialogue over nuclear with you, since I know that I will win. The technologies you mention have been discussed for decades and we are still nowhere near a working production design. It takes too long to build, too costly, too little talent in the states, and requires a water resource. Most large metro areas won't allow one to be built.

        Fukushima ended the nuclear dream.

        We put up solar and wind installations in less than a year. Both are priced under nuclear today, which takes 8 to 10 years to be built (with ridiculous cost overruns.) When the nuclear engineers have a real design that has gone into production, then nuclear is worth the discussion. But, we both know that is not happening in the near future while solar and wind (and batteries) continue to make incremental improvements.

        Nuclear's time has passed. The only concern I have is when will all of those old reactors we have today starting failing. It is surmised that problems will occur at many, once we reach a certain breakdown point.

        •  Part of the reason for storing energy ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... in CSP is that scaling the energy generator to the peak heat collected under peak conditions is economically inefficient, since by definition it will be generating below capacity for the large majority of all days and for the entirety of many days. With the storage allowing better capacity utilization of generator in any event, scaling up the storage capacity from, for instance, four hours to twelve hours is well worth it in terms of being able to deliver power when it is most valuable.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:35:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  A generally overlooked option (0+ / 0-)

            is changing the maximum time of demand to the maximum time of production. If the proper incentives were offered (much cheaper power) many industries could time highly power consumptive stages of production to coincide with peak solar output.

            •  The industry has been doing this to shape (0+ / 0-)

              time-of-use demand curves for decades.  It's definitely worth doing, but not all that easy for the bulk of demand.

              Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

              by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 08:33:20 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That is a large part of the ... (0+ / 0-)

                ... consumer side impetus for the smart grid ~ there is the chicken and the egg problem that until a standard to interface with smart grid is available in a large share of homes nationwide, the scale economies for developing consumer side smart grid appliances are not very promising. So that has to be tackled by pushing a standard interface consumer scale smart grid out to a large share of consumer homes first, and then that market opportunity opens up for appliance and consumer device manufacturers.

                Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                by BruceMcF on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 11:32:14 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The corporate impetus for smart grid (0+ / 0-)

                  meter level automation is replacing union labor O&M (pass-thru, no profit), with rapidly obsolescent capital plant on which returns are earned by utilities, and which will require regular capital replacement.  It also lowers cost thresholds for service turnoff, enabling increased access restrictions for the poor.  This doesn't mean it doesn't have real future benefits of the type you describe, just that that isn't why most IOU's actually did it, just a future side-benefit.

                  Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                  by benamery21 on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 02:45:35 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Meter level automation is only ... (0+ / 0-)

                    ... one part of full consumer side smart grid. It seems likely to create a full consumer side smart grid, we will have to mandate it.

                    Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                    by BruceMcF on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 02:50:59 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Meter automation (0+ / 0-)

                      typically provides the ability to impose TOU or even RTP for all, almost free, which provides the basic incentive for home automation without a mandate, as well as providing universal local penetration of a transceiver and communication network to central control to which home automation networks can be connected.  Alternatively, a direct mandate might speed penetration.  Of course the vast majority of full home automation benefits to a utility grid can be achieved simply by reaching HVAC, water heating, and (future) vehicle charging loads.

                      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                      by benamery21 on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 03:23:58 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Incidentally, my family home (0+ / 0-)

                        was on a residential demand TOU pilot at SRP starting in the early 80's.

                        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                        by benamery21 on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 03:26:04 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Space heating, AC and water heating are ... (0+ / 0-)

                        ... only 33% of total electricity consumption by end use in the latest USEIA housesehold Consumption & Expenditure survey ... even adding refrigeration only brings it to 45%. And total energy consumption on those are dropping, while energy consumption on "other" are rising.

                        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                        by BruceMcF on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:32:57 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  65.4% of home energy use by 2009 RECS (0+ / 0-)

                          They already dominate electricity peaks, and are a majority of 'shiftable' time-elective consumption, but as electrification of residential direct fossil consumption proceeds, and EV penetration increases, one would expect the proportion to increase (efficiency gains in lighting, electronics and appliances will help although I agree with you that HVAC and water heater 'efficiency' will likely increase faster in the near term).  Refrigerator/Freezer is a useful inclusion, in low demand areas.

                          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                          by benamery21 on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:00:26 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

        •  Solar thermal (0+ / 0-)

          One major advantage is gas backup built-in.  One major disadvantage is space and location.

          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

          by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:54:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  For instance, Ivanpah (0+ / 0-)

            which was a historic project with some unique challenges, and which I was happy to be a part of making happen, uses 6 square miles of mirrors on previously virgin desert on public lands to produce around 400MW part-time.  Massive grid upgrades (>$1B) were also required (although they will eventually be useful for other purposes as well).  For what other project of relatively similar benefit would we allow that level of impact?  

            Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

            by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 02:15:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  At one time we allowed ... (0+ / 0-)

              ... impacts on a similar scale to that for the construction of Interstate Highways, which we now see is an energy suck rather than an energy source.

              But I would place that kind of utility grade Solar CSP at a lower slice of the total sustainable renewable energy portfolio in the US than in Australia, which is why, as I discussed last September, I see a substantial role for biocoal from sustainable, renewable feedstocks for the dispatchable component that is required by a 100% sustainable, renewable energy portfolio.

              Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

              by BruceMcF on Wed Jan 29, 2014 at 11:29:59 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  ALEC: Usual Scumbags, Koch & Fossil Fuel Industry (0+ / 0-)

    Solar energy means their cash cow will become useless and they will lose control over US.  

  •  great diary. (0+ / 0-)

    KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

    by fcvaguy on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 03:21:29 AM PST

  •  Prices, fairness, etc (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    benamery21, ssgbryan, Ender

    Now that panel prices are so low, the real issue is installation costs. Which sounds to me like the time is here to make incorporating solar panels part of the building code for new houses in sunny locations. I mean, if you're going to be building a roof anyway... And the mass production should help further push down inverter costs.

    That said, there is one thing that I don't think we should dodge, which is that the right wing groups do have a point that solar owners are in one way freeloading. Why do solar owners connect to the grid? Because they want power at night and on cloudy days. How are they getthing this ability? Because the power companies paid to buil the grid. The owner should bear responsibility for 100% of the cost of line leading from the grid to their house, a fraction of the cost of the nearest several-hundred-thousand-dollar substation and the lines leading from it, a smaller fraction of the cost of the several tens of millions of dollars for the power plant and the lines from it, etc. That sort of stuff doesn't come cheap. If you want to use it, you should pay your share of its construction costs. Otherwise, you should be free to go off grid, but then you have to pay for batteries instead.

    Now, when a person buys power from the grid, only a fraction of what they're paying for is the fuel burned for the electricity. A large chunk is paying for the costs of building the grid itself. This gets wrapped up into their per-kilowatt hour cost, but it's not really a per-kilowatt hour cost - it's something that has to be paid for even if they don't use a single kilowatt hour. And there's no reason why solar owners shouldn't be paying for the grid as well. But under the current pricing scheme, if they don't use any kilowatt hours, they get an effective exemption.

    That said, there's also something the right-wingers conveniently omit. That is that in most locations, generating power in the middle of a sunny day in a bright location, on the commercial scale, gets a significant per-kWh premium. Depending on the situation, a commercial power producer can sell it for double or even more compared to your average kilowatt hour. So if we want to get pedantic about how to structure grid rates and slap people with PV systems with an extra tarriff for their not paying their fair share of grid construction / maintenance costs, then they should also restructure the net metering system such that they get paid several times as much for the midday power they sell as they pay for the off-peak power they consume.

    If they actually gave a rat's arse about fairness, that is.

    Já þýðir já. Nei þýðir nei. Hvað er svona erfitt við það?

    by Rei on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 04:02:03 AM PST

    •  Any utility would jump at the chance to pay (0+ / 0-)

      avoided cost for PV, including time-of-use and grid benefit credits, if they are a typically situated American IOU.  Yes, the price paid would be higher than for baseload wholesale power for the power produced on-peak.  It will be less on average than for any variation of net metering I've heard of, even if net metering customers are allowed to buy power without accounting for grid costs of their offset usage.    

      Costs of interconnection would also be paid by the generator, as is typical for unsubsidized generation.

      I don't recommend this as an argument.  The correct argument remains that development of solar PV to reach grid parity is critical and that efficient subsidies should be provided until PV can stand without subsidy.  

      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

      by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 07:36:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Though even when solar PV ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... can stand without subsidies, so long as they provide full-economic-cost external benefits relative to existing energy sources, subsidies equivalent to that net external benefit still ought to continue, otherwise we will under-invest in solar PV.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 05:43:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Pigouvian taxes (or the equivalent) to offset (0+ / 0-)

          negative externalities would be better, especially to the extent incentivizes for energy production increase energy use over conservation.

          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

          by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:00:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Except that ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... Pigouvian taxes are for the economic value of those external costs that can be put into economic value terms ... even if all of the external costs of fossil-fuel energy consumption are represented by taxes, there is still a net external benefit to the provision of solar PV as one part of a sustainable renewable energy portfolio, and that external benefit justifies a public subsidy, in the same way that external benefits of education justify public subsidies to education.

            Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

            by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:53:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not sure I agree that increased power consumption (0+ / 0-)

              is always a positive, even if it's PV.  At some levels of consumption I agree.  At U.S. levels of consumption I don't.  PV and power distribution or storage have negative externalities, just smaller ones than most other power production technologies.  If we had carbon under control, what do you see as the positive benefit from PV that's specific to PV?

              Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

              by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:01:54 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  In the context of a carbon neutral grid ... (0+ / 0-)

                ... solar PV availability is negatively correlated with windpower, our most abundant, highest efficiency sustainable renewable source, and the combined availability profile of wind with sufficient solar is a much better fit with the typical load profile than wind alone.

                I don't see what the relevance is of the issue whether increase energy consumption is a positive, given that we have well under 30% of our current energy consumption provided by sources that we can afford to rely on over the long term. We can, and should, substantially reduce our total energy consumption, but that absent the catastrophic consequences we are trying to avoid, our population will continue to grow, so even a reduction in our per capita energy consumption by 50% is not going to bring our consumption footprint in line with our current long term viable energy sources. And even there, part of the transition toward viable long term energy sources will involve a greater reliance on electrically powered transport, so we could reduce our energy consumption by substantially more than 50% per capita without necessarily reducing our electricity consumption by a similar percentage.

                Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 11:08:41 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Solar PV -Done right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rei

      I appreciate the evenhanded and thoughtful nature of your post.  If our goal is to deploy as much PV as possible as cheaply as possible (including external costs), so as to reduce fossil externalities while costing energy consumers as little as possible:

      The place to put PV is on large commercial roofs in installations of 100kw to 2MW, in areas where the transmission and subtransmission grids are load dominated, and at penetration levels which do not require distribution upgrades.  In most of the U.S. warehouses, industrial buildings, and retail big boxes provide more than enough space to place all the PV the grid can handle.

      Residential PV installs will never reach the economy of scale for installation and interconnection costs that can be reached at this size range.  Larger installations require land (cost and environmental impact), waste real estate, and are usually more distant from load.  Building PV in transmission areas which are already generation dominated will require grid upgrades to interconnect, or hamper efficient dispatch of generation or increase grid losses.  Building PV that requires distribution upgrades has direct proportional costs.

      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

      by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 07:50:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They connect to the grid for the same reason ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... that anyone else connects to the grid.

      Over the long term, whether or not it is inconvenient to fossil-fuel power supply to have solar PV on the grid is immaterial, since fossil-fuel power supply is not a long term solution. The question of whether the solar PV connecting to the grid is free-riding or providing a complementary benefit to the grid is whether having the solar PV on the grid is convenient or inconvenient to a 100% carbon neutral grid.

      And since it is a benefit to the cost effectiveness of a 100% carbon neutral grid up to somewhere in the range of 10% to 20% total energy supply, any inconvenience they pose to an already obsolete fossil-fuel powered grid is neither here nor there as far as a free-riding argument goes.

      Those inconveniences to the grid are obviously problems to work through on a pragmatic basis, but there isn't any sense that society as a whole is doing the owners of household PV installations a favor by establishing rules that encourage adoption of solar PV.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 05:49:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Trains AND photovoltaic (5+ / 0-)

    Network Rail (responsible for most of the rail infrastructure in the UK) has just completed work on the new roof for Blackfriars station in central London. The station uses the bridge over the Thames for platforms.

    Over 4,400 photovoltaic panels, enough to cover 23 tennis courts, crown the roof and provide up to 50% of the station's energy, enough to make almost 80,000 cups of tea a day.
    They will reduce the station's CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes per year – equivalent approximately to 89,000 average car journeys.
    The link has a time lapse movie of the roof being installed. This is not the first station in London to use this idea as an integrated part of the new structure. The Vauxhall bus station, which provides and interchange to Underground and main line trains as well, also has a solar roof.

    We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 05:38:41 AM PST

  •  Get ready for solar thermophotovoltaic (7+ / 0-)

    At least in a new, cheaper, more efficient, more employable version.

    This type of design helps overcome an inherent challenge in photovoltaic panels:  the ability to efficiently convert all of the available light versus being efficient at certain wavelengths and inefficient at others.

    Developing a perfect absorption material or layering ingeniously might do it.

    Or you could 'cheat'.

    Have a layer which absorbs light but re-emits it as much more readily absorbed infrared light, then have a layer which is great at converting infrared photons to electrical energy.

    Here's a neat trick:  'solar' panels of these type could work at night, too.

    Presenting MIT's Carbon Nanotube (rolled Graphene) Thermophotovoltaic cell.

    Thermophotovoltaic Device Has Potential to Reach Huge Solar Efficiencies

    Traditional photovoltaic solar cells have an inherent limit on the efficiency at which they can convert sunlight into energy.

    This limit—based on the bandgap of the material used and known as the Shockley-Queisser limit—is about 33.7 percent for standard solar cells.

    It is essentially due to any material's inability to respond to all wavelengths of sunlight; so what if there was a way to change the wavelengths that actually reach the cell to those it converts best?

    MIT researchers have unveiled the best-yet version of that idea, known as solar thermophotovoltaics.

    These modified solar cells place an absorber/emitter device above the cell itself. Sunlight is absorbed by this layer, it heats up—a lot—and emits light tuned directly to the bandgap of the PV cell beneath it.

    That means that much more of the energy in the sunlight can turn into electricity. According research in Nature Nanotechnology by graduate student Andrej Lenert and colleagues, this idea offers the benefits associated with both solar thermal power and traditional photovoltaics, and the ability to harness much of sunlight's spectrum and thus achieve extremely high efficiencies.

    In theory, these devices could climb all the way toward 80 percent efficiency and beyond, though for now we'll have to settle for a mere 3.2 percent.

    Still, that is more than triple the efficiency of previous efforts, which have peaked at around 1 percent.

    Among the reasons for the huge gap between potential and reality is heat. The new device's absorber-emitter reached a temperature of 962°C [~1,760 F]; at those temperatures, the devices are difficult to optimize and operate.

    The 3.2 percent achieved is a result, the investigators say, of the specific materials and design of the absorber-emitter: the outer layer uses an array of multiwalled carbon nanotubes, and the emitter portion is a photonic crystal layer made of silicon and silicon dioxide .

    "Our device is planar and compact and could become a viable option for high-performance solar thermophotovoltaic energy conversion," they wrote in the Nature Nanotechnology. And it also has the potential to aid in energy storage, since heat is an easier stored form of energy than electricity.

    The prototype has reached 3.2 percent, but the group thinks 20 percent, which would put it in range with standard PV modules, is well within reach.

    In an e-mail, Lenert told me that "efficiencies beyond this level will require improvements in low-bandgap cells, as well as even better control of the thermally-driven spectral conversion process using wavelength and angular selective surfaces." The research center at MIT is pursuing those and other angles to bring this idea into popular use.

    •  I don't understand the interest (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      patbahn

      in high efficiencies. A typical house has far more roof area than is needed to power the home even at low efficiencies. It is all about cost per watt hour, not how much energy you can get from a square foot.

      What is needed isn't a highly efficient cell, what is needed is a cheap material that can be used both as roofing and for power generation, even if it isn't very efficient. Having the cost of a PV array effectively reduced by the cost of the roof could have a huge impact on the economics of distributed power generation.

      •  For any given technology, though, ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... the higher the efficiency, everything else equal, the better, for both material and install cost per KW capacity.

        So for any given technology there will be a chase for higher efficiencies for that approach ... even for technologies that have traded off the highest cross-technology efficiencies possible in return for lower material cost per KW capacity.

        So "higher efficiency" is going to be an ongoing research interest, even though it is still the case that what matters is all-costs-included cost per deliverable KWh/yr and production profile versus peak hour / off-peak retail pricing.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 05:41:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  There needn't be only one strategy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF

        For certain applications, large area, lower efficiency solar photo/thermophotovoltaic materials might be exactly the right strategy

        For others, the luxury of large surfaces, large surface maintenance, and or wide-scale retrofitting might not be possible.

        But partly efficiency is about cost & return.  Really of course a cheap enough low efficiency approach will work, as will a sufficiently efficient higher cost approach.

        •  There's also the issue of ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          el cid

          ... co-generation of heat and electricity. Here in Ohio, the co-generation of sufficient heat to drive a solar dehumidifier would allow for a substantially higher comfortable temperature during the summer, allowing for substantially lower air conditioning operating costs, with conventional air conditioning, or allowing a smaller capacity and therefore lower capital cost system with geothermal cooling.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 11:01:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'd like to see more battery improvements. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder

    For example, the improved sugar battery (actually a fuel cell), or the flow battery using quinones.  Better storage technology could lead to homeowners telling power companies to take a hike.

    Until then, would it make more sense for someone to install a system that only covered about half of their electricity usage, and not even try to feed electricity back into the grid?  As long as the connections are done correctly, the power company probably doesn't have to be involved at all.  Two houses getting half their electricity from PV would be as good as one getting all.

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 07:34:35 AM PST

    •  If you parallel or move load back and forth (0+ / 0-)

      the utility will want to know about it.  If it's widespread practice they will need to know about it.  In most places in the U.S. there are laws requiring that you tell them about it.  This is for safety reasons, and for grid operations reasons (what you do affects the grid and thus your neighbors and the utility enforces the rules).  Note that I know of utilities which are using computer algorithms on revenue meter data to detect load profiles associated with undisclosed generation, this will get more common.  

      Note: if you want them to pull the meter (disconnect from the grid), most utilities will do that for you, and unless the utility connection is recent (a few years), you won't owe them much for doing that.

      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

      by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:06:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think your statements on islanding are outdated (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tle

        There's been much work in that area and I think proposed standards deal with the issue. The previous standard required disconnection from the grid within 2 seconds in the event of the power failure or significant sag. As more solar systems have been installed it became obvious that disconnecting added to the sag and wasn't the best strategy. Smart inverters overcome that problem.

        http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/...

        I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

        by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 09:31:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This isn't just about islanding (0+ / 0-)

          all I'm saying here is that if you install generation that parallels the grid, or takes load on and off the grid, the utility wants to know (and if this is a common practice for many customers they need to know).  This is also true of adding an air conditioner (although there are greater concerns with gen at this time).  Islanding is just one of the reasons for that.  Incidentally, I know more than one member of that working group personally and have been to meetings.

          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

          by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:19:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I read up thread a bit but I don't see which (0+ / 0-)

            working group you're referencing.

            I posted a couple of references to smart inverters in this thread. They deal with the associated communication and control.

            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

            by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:39:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Is that the Smart Inverter Working Group? n/t (0+ / 0-)

              I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

              by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:40:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's the one I'm referencing (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Just Bob

                Not the only one we're involved in.

                The capabilities being added is primarily targeting larger installs.  It is in some ways comparable to the changes in requirements for wind in the middle of the last decade.

                It's mostly about smarter voltage control (on flicker, ramping, and steady-state timeframes), which are typically the first problems you run into at the distribution level due to lower X/R of the grid.

                Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 02:01:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thank you. I'm having a bit a problem following (0+ / 0-)

                  the discussion, but I did find this post.

                  I understand that you may not be at liberty to reveal too much information concerning your employer. I would feel more comfortable knowing if you're on the engineering or business side. I don't want to find myself talking down to someone who knows much more than do. That's always awkward and leaves me feeling foolish. :-)

                  I did sense that you're articulating the utility perspective. That isn't a problem. We don't get much of that here aside from trolls. I do respect that you have much to add to the discussion. Thank you again.

                  I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                  by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 02:14:00 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I'm a PE, who previously worked as an electrician (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Just Bob

                    I have 15 years of utility experience at a large IOU, all technical on distribution, generation integration, subtransmission, substation, protection, and transmission.  

                    I have industrial electrician and installer side hands-on design, purchasing, permitting and installation experience via a family-owned business (some of the most relevant was contemporaneous with my utility employment but in a different state and service territory).  I wired my first control panel from schematic at age 6, and prepared my first federal submittal at age 8.  I don't usually put anything before age 12 on my resume, as I took the ACT at 11 and entered college at that age, so I can usually get folks past the chuckles over the idea of anyone having relevant experience beyond that age.

                    My opinions do not jibe at all points with utility or installer talking points.  I think I have a fair amount of insight into the bushwa on both sides.  I think the regulated utility model broke (hopefully not irreparably) in the 90's.  I think co-ops are the model which generally does the best job of taking care of utility customers, but regulation works if we do it right.  I work for an IOU, I take the public service part of the regulated model seriously.

                    Politically, I am anti-corporate, civil libertarian, and economically left of the Democratic Party.

                    My preferred wind incentive policy is for the feds to finance and own large wind installs (ala BPA, TVA, SRP) and a national transmission backbone and substantial pumped storage with developers free to supply or compete (they couldn't compete).

                    I think PTC is a giveaway to financiers and manufacturers, the results of which could be obtained much more cheaply.

                    I support minimum residential energy efficiency standards for mortgage qualification, and energy refis for all with a qualified energy audit.

                    I think NEM is one among a substantial slate of subsidies offered to small PV and along with those subsidies should be scaled back AS prices drop and penetration increases.  So far utility rebates have been dropping, when/as those are gone, other incentives should begin dropping.  As an example of how lucrative incentive regimes have been, my father's company installed a 120kW DC PV install that more than paid for itself the first year without considering energy production, while also providing a decent 6-figure net income to my father for a few months work.

                    Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                    by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 02:49:04 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Our discussion has fragmented into different (0+ / 0-)

                      sub-threads.

                      Please consider this my reply:
                      http://www.dailykos.com/...

                      I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                      by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 02:59:11 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I get my power from a co-op (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      patbahn, BruceMcF

                      In my latest bill there was a flyer asking for political support to protect coal and protesting the new EPA CO2 emission standards.

                      It's frustrating. I'm in Florida. We're rated fifth for solar potential but it hasn't been developed. In fact the state killed the residential PV market by writing a rebate into the law and then failing to fund it. The installers who priced their systems based on the rebates were left holding the bag. In other cases the buyers have received nothing or half the amount due. They've been waiting for years for their money.

                      http://www.nbc-2.com/...

                      I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                      by Just Bob on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 03:19:52 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Co-ops are focused on cost (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Just Bob, BruceMcF

                        some of them are very conservative.  They are very good in most cases at protecting your pocketbook.  They aren't perfect.

                        Unfortunately, the national org is quite conservative (it's now led by Jo Ann Emerson formerly of MO-08).  However, I also know of co-ops which install solar hot water with on-bill financing, and have NEM PV tariffs, and smart meters.

                        If you have a co-op you are a part owner and can affect board elections, you can also lobby board members, often directly.  You have a much better chance of changing the posture of a small co-op than a large IOU, even without regulatory bodies.

                        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                        by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 03:53:16 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  One small point on this extended comment ... (0+ / 0-)

                      ... (which could be a diary in its own right) ... when we say that the regulatory model broke in the 90's, it is important to recall that it was deliberately broken in pursuit of opportunities to gain higher profits.

                      And part of that is that the guaranteed returns that looks attractive in the financial environment of the 80's just didn't look quite as appealing in the financial environment of the 90's, so it also ties in with the other things done to break the broader financial system, which underlay the bubbles of the 90's and Aughties, and which led directly to the Recession of 2007-2009 and the Depression we are currently experiencing.

                      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                      by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 05:36:39 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I totally agree (0+ / 0-)

                        Deregulation of finance and utilities are of a piece.  Note that the California Assembly voted UNANIMOUSLY for utility deregulation (gah).  Effective re-regulation is essential--and essentially stalled.  Elements within the utility community fought the deregulation bandwagon (pushed hardest by fuel suppliers and merchant generators), while others pushed it, but eventually almost all of the IOU corporate community jumped on board.  My sentiments about active big business regulation were hardened during the (STILL unwinding) 2000-2001 California power crisis.  I remember being asked deregulation questions in interviews in 1997-98.  My answer in the interview for the job I took was prescient of the crisis and not particularly welcome (I got the job anyway because I had already sold the hiring manager, unbeknownst to myself, via interaction with one of his subordinates as an electrician on behalf of a customer).  

                        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                        by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:25:53 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Broken regulatory regime (0+ / 0-)

                        Includes regulators, staff, and mindset, not just laws and de-regulation

                        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                        by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:50:10 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Yes, that is implied in the ... (0+ / 0-)

                          ... broader base of the concept of institutions, at least in the American Institutionalist approach. Institutional rules of behavior include not only formal rules, but also informal habits of behavior, and are legitimized by folkviews among those who have those habits of behavior.

                          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                          by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 10:57:19 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

    •  In terms of building a sustainable ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... energy system, we are all better off under net metering or well designed household feed-in tariffs than any go-it-alone system, since different forms of renewable energy sources in combination offer more stable supply than each does in isolation.

      But if the power company fights the future, you gotta do what you gotta do. Certainly the kind of highly efficient appliances that one installs when pushing toward more self-sufficiency will be a benefit over the long term in any event.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:25:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If least cost carbon free power ASAP is the goal (0+ / 0-)

        tiny dis-aggregated household DG is not going to be the majority contributor in getting there.  That doesn't mean utilities shouldn't be required to be fair about implementing it, or even that it shouldn't be incentivized for developmental purposes.

        Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

        by benamery21 on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 02:08:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A least carbon free power ASAP is the goal ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... no single source is going to be the majority contributor in getting there, so its not entirely clear what is the point of singling out any single important component of the sustainable renewable energy portfolio as not being "the" thing that nothing is likely to be.

          We aren't looking for "the" one-size-fits-all silver bullet solution, which doesn't exist, we are looking for as many solutions as solve their particular problems well as we can find.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 05:32:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Mid-size solar PV DG (0+ / 0-)

            (100kW-2MW) has pretty much all of the direct environmental benefits of residential PV with greater cost efficiency (which for the same tech generally also means lesser indirect environmental impact) and easier grid integration.  There is no good technical reason to incentivize small PV more strongly than mid-size PV.

            Although it isn't how the market is setup today, I would prefer (to individual suburban residential PV installs) small residential power users to invest (via credit union loans using home equity, or via utility on-bill financing either co-op or regulated as pass-thru, etc) in PV co-ops that would finance PV installation on 3rd-party commercial roofs in areas which have load-dominated transmission.  Their investment (with similar tax incentives as for small installs) would go much farther in terms of the amount of solar installed, and the benefits would go to consumers not banks.  This is similar to buying green power credits onbill, except that is usually benefiting some less desirable entities.

            Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

            by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 07:53:52 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, as touched on in the essay ... (0+ / 0-)

              ... the most important reason for supporting household PV is the political side of it, given that we do not at present have a political landscape in which we can do the least that we absolutely must do, so building an expanded political support base for the required conversion to a 100% carbon neutral grid is a higher priority at present, and the household installations will tend to be focused in those gerrymandered Republican districts which tend to be more volatile than a non-gerrymandered district of similar partisan lean, and therefore promise to place particular pressure on obstructionist Republicans in the gerrymandered Republican majority in the House.

              From a total sustainable renewable energy portfolio perspective, there are roles to play for both individual household installations and mid-size solar PV installs. Building them out of the idealized optimal order is preferable to not getting them built at all, and that is the argument for taking advantage of the political opening that is available for what can be pushed through now, as opposed to waiting until an opening comes along for getting the ideal sequence.

              Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

              by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 10:55:41 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Building Codes in Some Areas (0+ / 0-)

        Make it impossible to have a completely-off-the-grid home.

  •  Informative post. Thank you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, BruceMcF

    "Since when did obeying corporate power become patriotic." Going the Distance

    by Going the Distance on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 08:16:55 AM PST

  •  They'd charge us for the air we breathe, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Just Bob, DRo, BruceMcF

    if they could.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 10:10:45 AM PST

  •  Battery storage systems are getting better and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    misterwade, patbahn, BruceMcF

    dropping in price.  It is just a matter of time before some people will tell the Utility disconnect my meter as I am going off the grid.  When this starts to happen it will send shock waves through the power industry.  As I have seen in other articles the utilities are operating like they did 100 years ago.  They need to update their business model or will get left behind.

    In about 10 days I should have a 3.2 kW array on my roof.  Just in time for the main sun season!  If we get enough sun we may be able to generate 5 kWh of energy a year.  We have a high efficiency heat pump that lowered are summer costs very nicely the past two years.  Now when it gets to 100 outside my heat pump will be getting its electricity from the roof!    

    A bigger system than mine would generate enough energy for the whole day in just 5-6 hours.  In places where there is a large number of sunshine days the solar energy generated in a given day could be twice as much is needed by an energy efficient house.  

    Many companies are getting behind solar just look at this - http://www.businessinsider.com/...

    When big companies and major countries get involved No one will be able to stop solar power!

  •  Libertarians and RW survivalist types (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    patbahn, BruceMcF

    take note:  ALEC is not your friend.

    Anybody who screws with independent energy and the ability of people to put something on their own rooftops is going to be sorry, b/c it won't just be liberals they're dealing with.  I'm guessing they're not going to be framing it like that.

    I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 12:01:48 PM PST

  •  we need to resolve soft barriers to Solar PV (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF

    where the permit or rules would make it harder to
    have PV.

    We have a problem here in DC.

    The city DCRA only allows a Rooftop PV array that is no more then 20% of the Service cable to your home.
    NEC 690.8 reads to me to allow up to 80%.

    My problem is that sizing rules.  Old homes have 60 Amp
    feeds.  So you can only put 2000 KW on the roof.

    Now for a typical house, you probably want 5-7 KW to go grid neutral.  Add in 2500 Watts to power an EV, and now
    it's 10 KW.  

    But the DCRA rule would require you to have a 300 Amp SE Cable.  

    That's just bad engineering.

    •  Yes, that is a major part of the ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      patbahn

      ... reason that rallying even a temporary coalition of interest can yield long term benefits even if it only holds for this single issue.

      All institutions are past-bound in the sense that they embed old solutions to old problems that were resolved by some combination of re-interpreting existing rules and appealing to sovereign authority (which includes electoral contests in a democratic system) for new rules.

      Which means that as we pass this threshold, we have a pile of old rules that are rendered out of date and we have to go through a new round of re-interpreting existing rules and appealing to sovereign authority for new rules to fit the new circumstances.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 05:26:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's an odd rule (0+ / 0-)

      I suspect they are worried about something other than service thermal rating.  Do they provide any explanation?

      We allow 100% for utility service cable on NEM installs (no credit for minimum loads), but often need to (much more often than we actually do replace it) replace it for voltage rise reasons well before 100% thermal loading.

      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

      by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:27:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Is it the actual service cable or the panel rating (0+ / 0-)

      that they are taking 20% of?  Most utility service cable is undersized for the full panel rating.

      Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

      by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 09:34:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are most in the are of 20% of the ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... full panel rating?

        Indeed, if the issue in establishing the regulation is that the actual service cable rating is lower than the full panel rating, it would seem more reliable to make the regulation against the actual cable rating than as a percentage of the panel rating.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 10:40:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  As I said, this is an odd rule (0+ / 0-)

          I'm trying to understand where they might be coming from.  I have no information on what they are doing other than Pat's comment.  

          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

          by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 11:56:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If what they are enforcing ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... is 20% of rated capacity, either way, it seems highly likely that the intent of the rule is 80% of rated capacity and the rule is being misapplied.

            Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

            by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 03:40:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I suppose that's possible. (0+ / 0-)

              If they are saying it has anything to do with NEC they are clearly wrong.  I'm assuming it's a local rule, that they instituted for some more or less odd reason.

              Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

              by benamery21 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 03:55:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I can see a point where an 80% limit could ... (0+ / 0-)

                ... be inferred in the 2008 (that's the one I have on hand) code section 690, but is is not a section on connection of a utility-interactive inverter to the alternative supply, but rather a section on the circuit ~ 690.8(B1): the circuit conductors and overcurrent devices shall be sized to carry not less than 125% of the maximum currents as calculated in 690.8(A). The rating or setting of over-current devices shall be in accordance with 240.4(B&C). Exception: Circuits containing an assembly, together with its overcurrent device, that is listed for continuous operation at 100% of its rating shall be permitted to be used at 100% of its rating.

                Taking circuit conductor and overcurrent devices rating as fixed and inverter output as as percent of that rating, that resolves to the 80% that patbahn refers to. That is, however, the circuit proper (in our case, the household circuit), and not the "Utility Interaction Inverter Output Circuit".

                I don't see any such specification with respect to the connection to the grid in either NEC-2008 chapter 690 or chapter 705, though I do see specifications not to exceed the capacity of the and not to unbalance three phase circuits, which on reading them seem straightforward enough, though I surely couldn't implement them.

                The problem is if a local authority has included the NEC as law by reference, and the responsible official has made an incompetent reading of the code, objections to that reading will often be referred back to the official that made the original incompetent reading. Challenging that in court by recourse to expert testimony can be costly, which is where an organized movement that can credibly threaten to bring it to court can be much more successful than an individual resident in getting the local authority to open their ears and listen to more competent outside experts.

                Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

                by BruceMcF on Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 06:20:26 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

Meteor Blades, Alumbrados, paradox, DeminNewJ, northsylvania, fcvaguy, Chi, ferg, Liberal Thinking, Gooserock, Powered Grace, PeterHug, RunawayRose, wu ming, siegestate, Wintermute, genethefiend, ericy, OLinda, willyr, xynz, dweb8231, TheMomCat, bronte17, Babsnc, Bronxist, oceanview, ctsteve, wader, HeyMikey, Sychotic1, defluxion10, nirsnet, Brian82, econlibVA, Sembtex, side pocket, KayCeSF, JayDean, Steven D, rapala, NoMoreLies, jrooth, tle, ichibon, ek hornbeck, JohnB47, terrypinder, stagemom, Gary Norton, fixxit, lennysfo, Sandino, rb608, psyched, tommymet, golem, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Mr Bojangles, HoundDog, Yellow Canary, smokeymonkey, Magnifico, NBBooks, triv33, StrayCat, A Siegel, Ashaman, Rosaura, gooderservice, Chris in ColsOH, hlsmlane, Turbonerd, MadMs, Eikyu Saha, CharlieHipHop, seabos84, dabr, Habitat Vic, SpecialKinFlag, leema, offgrid, psychodrew, FishOutofWater, eOz, artisan, letsgetreal, jhop7, Don midwest, Assaf, TomP, jwinIL14, misterwade, JeffW, TX Freethinker, 6412093, poligirl, Brian76239, cumberland sibyl, Buckeye Nut Schell, jakebob, jamess, Calamity Jean, tofumagoo, boatjones, geomoo, triplepoint, home solar, temptxan, petulans, priceman, watercarrier4diogenes, SolarMom, 207wickedgood, Louisiana 1976, Bule Betawi, ARS, divineorder, LinSea, bobatkinson, socal altvibe, petral, dskoe, bfitzinAR, kevinpdx, Shelley99, realwischeese, Tortmaster, astral66, davespicer, jpmassar, LookingUp, Railfan, Just Bob, political junquie, LaughingPlanet, The Jester, mookins, cordgrass, nirbama, nosleep4u, Pakalolo, Onomastic, Maximilien Robespierre, pajoly, ozsea1, ban nock, sostos, cv lurking gf, Late Spring, zukesgirl64, Muskegon Critic, IB JOHN, illegal smile, enhydra lutris, antooo, bluedust, PhilJD, VTCC73, Marihilda, blackjackal, DRo, Auriandra, anodnhajo, DeadHead, Jakkalbessie, Eric Nelson, David54, 2thanks, CA ridebalanced, peachcreek, teabaggerssuckbalz, Syoho, aznavy, jes2, New Minas, oldpotsmuggler, rat racer, George3, hungeski, James Wells, peptabysmal, Ray Pensador, Lily O Lady, Panacea Paola, remembrance, JayRaye, Fake Irishman, goodpractice, HedwigKos, Alhambra, RockPaperScissors, ET3117, k9kiki, Another Grizzle, martianexpatriate, Kombema, TheDuckManCometh, RUNDOWN, eagleray, patbahn, Skyye

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site