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(AZCentral)   Energy company in Arizona is encouraging homeowners to put solar panels on their roofs by offering all kinds of incentives. Just kidding. They're threatening to jack up the monthly bill of anybody who does that   (azcentral.com) divider line 187
    More: Asinine, energy industry, bonuses, natural kind, ratepayers, rooftops, solar panels, homeowners, Arizona Corporation Commission  
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14672 clicks; posted to Main » on 12 Jul 2013 at 2:22 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-07-12 11:52:38 AM  

Persnickety: trappedspirit: LOL first cloudy day and suddenly we all need 100% of the grid.  How does shiat work?

The clouds keep the temperature lower so all the ACs don't have to work so hard.


Oh, we'd get some of that nice adjacent cold air mass blowing our way since Hell would have frozen over.
 
2013-07-12 11:55:35 AM  
i'd rather be dead in California.
 
2013-07-12 11:57:33 AM  

lack of warmth: Generation_D: I knew a guy in the 1980s who was a WWII veteran. He had a crank phone that generated its own power, and for fun one day he plugged that into the tone dial network GTE ran.

By "ringing" that phone, he caused a spot outage at the local switch box/"Central Office" (affecting the neigborhood) because he just zapped it with whatever current one of those things put out, and the circuitry hadn't had to handle one of those in 30 years.

They sent a nice repairman out who told him don't do that again.

That reminds of a story I got from a Consumers lineman.  He was out one night trying to restore power after a storm when he found a branch resting on a line that caused the big fuse to blow.  He pulled the blown fuse and went to remove the branch before he could replace the fuse restoring power.  The line should be dead, but he still had his safety gloves on as he reached for the branch.  Sparks jumped from the branch to his fingers, the line was still charged.  A farmer up the line had his generator wired wrong and was back feeding and catching a transformer before the spot my friend was at and therefore the line was fully charged.  They had to make the farmer shut off his generator in order to finish the work, and I sure some repercussions were dealt.  My friend wouldn't be here if he didn't stop and put the big gloves and boots on, stopping him from being the ground.


Didn't use his grounding hook?
 
2013-07-12 12:03:46 PM  

Loren: Grammatik Polizei: What a load of B.S. Our panels produce our entire demand. We pay $18/month in fees and such for the privilege of being connected to the grid. This is the same as if we had a meter with nothing connected to it.The utility doesn't even see what we feed back during the day in any real sense. Our meter is connected to a 15 k.v.a. transformer that also feeds three other meters. At mid day when we feed back these three other neighbors are using a whole lot more. So our array reverses current for a whole 200 feet of the grid. BTW I paid the entire cost of running that 200 feet when the house was built - so the utility "maintains" that line but didn't incur any cost to install it.

Reality check: During the day you are feeding power onto the grid, at night the grid is feeding you power. Cut that grid tie and your lights go out at night. Thus you are using the grid.


I realize I am using the grid. As I said, we are paying $18 per month to do so. I am fine with this because that is what all customers are paying for that service in our area. The Arizona utillity essentially wants people who use less to pay more.


Also, consider that transformer. If you weren't there wouldn't they have used a smaller one? That's a piece of infrastructure you didn't pay for but are using.

No, the transformer was there long before I built and is the basic size they place in residential neighborhoods here.  It is a piece of infrastructure that I am using and pay for on a monthly basis through the lump-sum base fees on the standard utility bill.

Again my objection with the dickish utility is that we all pay to be connected to the grid (base fees) and also pay for generation and transmission of what we use in kWh.  Every electric bill I have payed has been this way.  To add additional fees because you use less than average (because you have solar) stinks.
 
2013-07-12 12:15:04 PM  

logieal: That's right, there is a plan that will charge $13.50 per kWh if you use more than a set amount. It doesn't say what that 'demand' amount is, but holy fark. The only clue you have is that it says you must stagger the use of appliances. So I take that to mean if you're using your oven and your refrigerator or A/C kicks on, you're getting charged $13.50 a kWh. Fark that.


As an electric car owner, I've been researching these kinds of plans. (I'm in Raleigh so my utility is different than yours, but the basic details are the same everywhere).

The $13.50/kW is for your PEAK demand. They measure how much electricity you've used every 15 minutes. For all of the on-peak times (i.e. not nights/weekends) during the month, they look at the one 15-minute period where you used the most energy (kWh), multiply that by 4 to get average kW, multiply that by $13.50.

That models utilities' cost structure more accurately than other plans - peak demand is what's most expensive for them to provide.

To win with a plan like that, you need to have fairly smooth consumption during peak times, and/or be able to put off load to non-peak times (like charging the car and drying clothes at night). I ended up staying with my flat-rate plan (not even time of use) because my car's usage is small compared to my HVAC/water heat/dryer, so with time-of-use plans or time-of-use-demand plans (as above) I lose.
 
2013-07-12 12:16:03 PM  

Stile4aly: trappedspirit: LOL first cloudy day and suddenly we all need 100% of the grid.  How does shiat work?

Do you know how few truly cloudy days there are here?


Zero?  Is there zero?
 
2013-07-12 12:23:07 PM  
So are they going to penalize all the schools here that are installing giant panel in their parking lots this summer? Every school I drive by this lately are installing giant banks of panels in the parking lots.

And the local electric companies just got done installing panel farms all over the place this last year. Which thanks by the way for charging me a new fee on my bill to pay for those and jacked my KWH rate up to make up the difference (yes I read my bills).
 
2013-07-12 12:25:57 PM  
When you stop and think about it, anything you do to reduce your power bill is going to impact some energy company and they're not going to be real happy about it.

Hoover Dam was fought in the planning stages by local power companies, who didn't like the idea of not being able to charge customers what they wanted for electricity.

Later came the companies whose major purpose was simply to buy and sell power at a profit -- meaning they really didn't do anything to earn their major bucks but affected a lot of people.

Science Fiction writers have periodically brought up the concept of individually powered homes and businesses, eliminating the power grid, but we don't have the technology for that. (You can, though, install a 'pocket nuclear reactor' something like they have on military ships and subs but your neighbors might get a tad hysterical and changing out the fuel rods tends to be on the costly side.)

Note: A kid did make a fully functional little nuclear reactor for a school science project -- and got in trouble for it.

Trying to ease your power costs has a ripple effect that means power producers will eventually fight you every step of the way if your idea becomes too wide spread. All of your major fossil fuel companies, from oil to coal and gas, will react badly to any drop in their profits. Power plants who rely on the cost of fuel will react badly if their profits start to drop.

When major companies start to feel the pinch, they bribe congress into creating laws to prevent the average citizen from getting out of paying their high costs. Look how cable TV got 'stealing cable' -- meaning poking the end of a cut cable wire into the cable socket and getting a few channels for free -- into a felony.

I did read, several years ago, about a guy who invented a new, film based, cheap, flexible solar cell system that was going to drop the cost of solar panels. Since then, I've read about his product and it works, but it's not so cheap anymore.

I've looked into solar since our power bills usually pass $200 a month but prior to the great gas screwing we all got, had been around $75. Back in the early 70's, my first apartment with a/c cost $19.00 a month in power. (High test gas was $0.50 a gallon.)

Homes are much more efficient these days, better insulated and their electric devices more power friendly, but the energy bills still keep going up.

When I checked into solar and everything which was needed to take my house off the grid completely, I realized it would take me nearly a decade to pay off the costs before I started showing a gain. The battery bank alone is hideously expensive.
 
2013-07-12 12:29:08 PM  

flondrix: BarkingUnicorn: If they're getting no service, why don't they just withdraw from the grid? Oh, because they need it sometimes. But when they need it and it works for them, that's not a service that APS provides. Just look at how foolish you look!

So people who use less electricity from the grid should have an extra surcharge, to punish them for the power they're not using?


Are you punished with insurance premiums for staying healthy?  If so, you do not understand insurance.
 
2013-07-12 12:35:00 PM  

Lady J: Bontesla:
I live in Georgia. My power bill is about 200 in the summer. I own a small 1390 sqft ranch home.

Every time my contract is up, I shop for the most competitive rates. I think I've switched companies every year... But I have the luxury of choice.

I don't know what a ranch home is, but you describe that as small. i can't remember the exact dimensions of my place but I'd say yours is double the size of mine.

i think in general property is a lot bigger in the US and that's part of the difference in power spend


This.  Americans buy lots of stuff and need lots of room for it.  It's what makes our economy great.

/lived comfortably in 284 sq. ft. & had room for 5 dinner guests
 
2013-07-12 12:51:02 PM  
The power company should sell electricity at retail rates and buy electricity at wholesale rates. Yes this impacts the end user that can no longer sell back excess electricity from their solar panels to the power company at full retail, but it allows the power company to maintain the lines that get that power from your house to your neighbors house.

Alternatively the user installing solar can load their garage full of batteries and disconnect from the grid.
 
2013-07-12 01:06:56 PM  
If you don't cheap out on the technical parts for solar, you can make it so you run solar mainly and then that gets supplemented with grid power.
No need to feed back into the grid.
 
2013-07-12 01:10:56 PM  

Ravage: Alternatively the user installing solar can load their garage full of batteries and disconnect from the grid.


Oh, I'm sure the electric companies are thinking up a fee for that, too. probably something about needing to keep the unused lines in good condition in case you sell your house and the new owner needs them.
 
2013-07-12 01:14:34 PM  

pacified: i'd rather be dead in California.


Good, we want you there too.
 
2013-07-12 02:03:07 PM  
This will pass, depending on how much they bribed contributed to politicians.
 
2013-07-12 02:14:43 PM  

BarkingUnicorn: flondrix: BarkingUnicorn: If they're getting no service, why don't they just withdraw from the grid? Oh, because they need it sometimes. But when they need it and it works for them, that's not a service that APS provides. Just look at how foolish you look!

So people who use less electricity from the grid should have an extra surcharge, to punish them for the power they're not using?

Are you punished with insurance premiums for staying healthy?  If so, you do not understand insurance.


Do insurance companies charge you extra for being too healthy?  If not, then they are not punishing you.  This utility company wants to charge you a hundred bucks a month extra if you have a solar panel.
 
2013-07-12 02:15:41 PM  

Abner Doon: BarkingUnicorn: Abner Doon: BarkingUnicorn: This is the same battle that's being fought between electric car makers and State depts. of transportation.  Even if your car uses zero gasoline, you still have to pay for the farking roads to drive it on.

Except driving a car has a net negative impact on society as a whole.  Installing and using solar panels has a net positive impact on society as a whole.  So government has a vested interest in subsidizing solar panels, whereas it has none in subsidizing cars.

Oh, yes, cars have a net negative impact on society; that is why there are so few of them, and so few miles of roads for them to use.

Are you seriously arguing that there's a bunch of them, so they must be good for society?  Because I don't think I even have to bother refuting that.

But ignoring that, and going into more detail, yes you driving a car is a net negative.  It'd be far far better overall if you used public transportation of some kind, or at least car-pooled, thus having less cars on the road.  Keep in mind, here "better" means for society as a whole, counting in the cost to the environment and etc.  Having roads and such infrastructure is a net positive, you personally driving is not.  Seems a bit counter-intuitive at first I guess, but if you think about it it's pretty obvious.


You take the bus system in Austin for a few months, sit next to the idiot who uses his clothes as a toilet, catch several illnesses over that period of time, THEN come back and tell me private transportation is a negative.
 
2013-07-12 02:25:40 PM  

sycraft: Solar panels can really help, particularly since they tend to do a lot of output when it is hot,


Actually, like most semiconductor-based bits of tech, they're less efficient when hot.
 
2013-07-12 02:29:24 PM  

Liquid_Bacon: APS has to pay the solar customers RETAIL prices for their excess power, which is higher during peak times.    That might sound great and all, but the money is coming from somewhere.  The price difference is made up by the other customers.  So, when 2016 rolls around and the ACC let's APS raise rates again, the non solar customers will be subsidizing solar ever more.  That's In addition to the tax subsidies solar received.  Why do I have to pay for someone else's stuff?


APS does not pay solar customers retail prices for excess power. Solar customers receive a credit for the kwhs sent back to the grid. The solar customer sends extra kwhs to the grid during peak rates and APS resells it to other customers at 15.5 c/kwh. The solar customers just receive a credit for 1 kwh, which mostly would be used to offset a be a kwh used at off period rates 9 c/kwh. APS is mad because solar is replacing their most profitable sales
 
2013-07-12 02:44:22 PM  

Abner Doon: BarkingUnicorn: This is the same battle that's being fought between electric car makers and State depts. of transportation.  Even if your car uses zero gasoline, you still have to pay for the farking roads to drive it on.

Except driving a car has a net negative impact on society as a whole.  Installing and using solar panels has a net positive impact on society as a whole.  So government has a vested interest in subsidizing solar panels, whereas it has none in subsidizing cars.


Except having a job and being productive has a net positive impact on society and having a car to get there is nearly always required, put the bong down and think hippy.
 
2013-07-12 03:15:59 PM  

Rik01: When I checked into solar and everything which was needed to take my house off the grid completely, I realized it would take me nearly a decade to pay off the costs before I started showing a gain. The battery bank alone is hideously expensive.


Batteries are inefficient and degrade rather quickly with repeated charge-discharge cycles.  Look into supercapacitors, they hold a lot of energy, and can discharge as fast or as slow as needed, and unlike some rechargable battery types (NiCad and the like, the cheaper ones) supercaps have no memory effect, and unlike lithium, sealed lead acid or NiMH, they don't suffer reduced capacity if fully discharged.
 
2013-07-12 03:57:32 PM  

flondrix: BarkingUnicorn: flondrix: BarkingUnicorn: If they're getting no service, why don't they just withdraw from the grid? Oh, because they need it sometimes. But when they need it and it works for them, that's not a service that APS provides. Just look at how foolish you look!

So people who use less electricity from the grid should have an extra surcharge, to punish them for the power they're not using?

Are you punished with insurance premiums for staying healthy?  If so, you do not understand insurance.

Do insurance companies charge you extra for being too healthy?  If not, then they are not punishing you.  This utility company wants to charge you a hundred bucks a month extra if you have a solar panel.


Sigh.  No, one of their proposals is a separate charge for insuring that the grid will be available when you need it.   Your reasoning implies that people who are perfectly healthy and never use health care insurance should have zero premiums.

Get off the grid, avoid the charge.  Drop insurance, avoid premiums.  Don't pay your money and take your chances.
 
2013-07-12 04:50:33 PM  

Lady J: PunGent: Lady J: payattention: Lady J -christ on a bike! my electricity bill is about 25 quid a month. that's what... 35 dollars? do you have AC in the dog's kennel??

No offense M'Lady, but in some places the temperature can go above 80F...err 26.6C.... which is something you may not be familiar with living where you do...

so you/they are spending 397-35=362 dollars a month on AC and refrigeration? (obviously I have a fridge, but it doesnt have to work as hard as yours/theirs)

that seems... a lot

Yes, but us real 'Mericans don't have to pay a license fee to watch television...

a whopping tenner a month. what are you spending on cable / equivalent?

in fact, from that verizon article yesterday I gather you guys also pay a shiatload for landline and mobile phone.

im coming across as defensive i realise and I'm not [much]. i just wonder whether it's become easy and bandwagony to rip on the UK as being incredily expensive, when it's actually not.


Easy, lady, just teasing ya :)

Yes, cable bundles here are VERY expensive.  I keep hoping we'll get to choose our channels, but I'm not holding my breath.
 
2013-07-12 05:17:41 PM  

trappedspirit: Stile4aly: trappedspirit: LOL first cloudy day and suddenly we all need 100% of the grid.  How does shiat work?

Do you know how few truly cloudy days there are here?

Zero?  Is there zero?


From March to November, it probably is 0, aside from the evening thunderstorms in August when we'd be on-grid anyway since it would be night.  In the winter, you'll get a couple cloudy days here and there, but we're not blasting AC all the time either so it's not as if the grid is under terrible strain during this time either.
 
2013-07-12 05:24:24 PM  
PunGent:

Easy, lady, just teasing ya :)

Yes, cable bundles here are VERY expensive.  I keep hoping we'll get to choose our channels, but I'm not holding my breath.


gosh dang it's hard to consistently not bite in life! you're a scholar and a [pun]gentleman to come back here and be gracious
 
2013-07-12 05:51:50 PM  

BarkingUnicorn: Sigh.  No, one of their proposals is a separate charge for insuring that the grid will be available when you need it.


People who do not have solar panels also rely on the grid being there when they need it, but are not subject to the extra charge.  Both households with and without solar panels buy electricity, the households with solar panels just buy less than they would otherwise.  They may even buy more than a smaller household that has very few appliances and no solar panels.  Very few people have enough installed solar to meet all of their electrical needs, and most of those are truly off the grid.  Had the utility proposed a "connection charge" for all customers who use less electricity but have the ability to use more on a moment's notice, they could justify that better than "Hey, we can see panels on your roof, that'll be another $100 a month."

Then there is the grid synchronization issue, but I don't see you making that argument.
 
2013-07-12 05:59:58 PM  

flondrix: BarkingUnicorn: Sigh.  No, one of their proposals is a separate charge for insuring that the grid will be available when you need it.

People who do not have solar panels also rely on the grid being there when they need it, but are not subject to the extra charge.  Both households with and without solar panels buy electricity, the households with solar panels just buy less than they would otherwise.  They may even buy more than a smaller household that has very few appliances and no solar panels.  Very few people have enough installed solar to meet all of their electrical needs, and most of those are truly off the grid.  Had the utility proposed a "connection charge" for all customers who use less electricity but have the ability to use more on a moment's notice, they could justify that better than "Hey, we can see panels on your roof, that'll be another $100 a month."

Then there is the grid synchronization issue, but I don't see you making that argument.


Whatever palatable moniker they give to this fee, it is not an "extra" charge.  It won't end up anywhere near $100/month, either.
 
2013-07-12 06:15:23 PM  
This should be so straight forward it's idiotic there's even an argument.  The power company needs to (forced to by law if needed) decouple their pricing for electrical service with the pricing for electrical generation/sale.

I'm 100% certain they have used every capital expense on their taxes to avoid paying more on their profit (nothing wrong with that) - so it's a matter of record how much money they spend every year maintaining/upgrading their grid.

Simply take the grid budget and divide by (# customers * service capacitiy)

This way EVERYONE pays for their reliance on the grid, adjusted for their maximum potential usage.  A factory is going to pay a lot more because they have considerably more capacity to use electricity (regardless of voltage or amperage) - but no one gets a free ride.
 
2013-07-12 06:23:03 PM  

Grammatik Polizei: I realize I am using the grid. As I said, we are paying $18 per month to do so. I am fine with this because that is what all customers are paying for that service in our area. The Arizona utillity essentially wants people who use less to pay more.


But $18/month isn't the whole cost of the grid.

Grammatik Polizei: No, the transformer was there long before I built and is the basic size they place in residential neighborhoods here. It is a piece of infrastructure that I am using and pay for on a monthly basis through the lump-sum base fees on the standard utility bill.


Built because they knew a house was going to come along.  Had they known the lot would remain unconnected it would be different.

Ravage: The power company should sell electricity at retail rates and buy electricity at wholesale rates. Yes this impacts the end user that can no longer sell back excess electricity from their solar panels to the power company at full retail, but it allows the power company to maintain the lines that get that power from your house to your neighbors house.


So long as not too great a percentage of users are doing this it would work fine.
 
2013-07-12 08:44:45 PM  

Saberus Terras: Look into supercapacitors, they hold a lot of energy


But have still nowhere near the energy density of batteries.
 
2013-07-12 09:06:21 PM  

Freschel: dangelder: How is Arizona not 100% solar already? I could probably make a killing there if I designed and produced some kind of simple solar-powered fan or AC unit.

Politics, pure politics. That's why.


Actually it's because solar panels are expensive.  I looked online to get an idea of what they cost.  Here's a 60 watt panel for $300.  Here's a 130 watt panel for $560.  Then you need the other stuff that goes with it.  First there are the batteries.  Anyone who has a car knows what batteries cost.  Then there's something called a charge controller.  That disconnects the panels from the batteries when they're fully charged.  If you don't have one, you'll ruin the batteries.  Then you need one or more inverters to change that DC power into the AC your appliances require.  If you're going 100% solar, you will need enough panels to provide your power needs for the day and charge the batteries.  Also you will need enough extra panels to provide a cushion for times when the sky is partly cloudy so you still have the power you need and are able to charge the batteries.  Also you need to take into consideration that neither the batteries or inverters are 100% efficient.  You'll need more panels to compensate for this.

To go 100% solar you'll need a setup that can provide somewhere around 10 to 15 thousand watts.  The cost is why the solar companies in Arizona are leasing the panels instead of selling them.
 
2013-07-12 10:51:03 PM  

ambercat: And let's not get started and air conditioning


You know there IS such thing as solar cooling.
 
2013-07-12 10:58:15 PM  

HotIgneous Intruder: Wherever there's an American, there's a raging douchebag.


YOU are apparently an American, shiat4brainz.
 
2013-07-13 01:02:42 AM  
The best thing I did for my electric bill was install a split-system a.c. Five years ago. Here in central Florida it runs 24/7. I used to pay up to $250 a month in the summer. My highest bill to date was $130. $60 of that was the danged fuel surcharge. Yearly routine maintenance for both units is $180.
 
2013-07-13 12:57:35 PM  

Bonzo_1116: AverageAmericanGuy: It never really made sense that they would pay individual energy producers for power. I'm surprised that this kind of thing hasn't already been enacted.

Tepco here in Japan, reeling from the sudden reduced energy usage after the tsunami, decided that raising rates to keep revenue levels up was a better course of action than letting their management bonuses lapse.

It's comforting to know that assholes are everywhere. Reaffirms faith in the universal order.


Yeah but the bonuses for CEOs in Japan are probably like $10000. Have you ever  seen a comparison of Japanese executive pay?
 
2013-07-13 12:59:27 PM  

PaLarkin: Freschel: dangelder: How is Arizona not 100% solar already? I could probably make a killing there if I designed and produced some kind of simple solar-powered fan or AC unit.

Politics, pure politics. That's why.

Actually it's because solar panels are expensive.  I looked online to get an idea of what they cost.  Here's a 60 watt panel for $300.  Here's a 130 watt panel for $560.  Then you need the other stuff that goes with it.  First there are the batteries.  Anyone who has a car knows what batteries cost.  Then there's something called a charge controller.  That disconnects the panels from the batteries when they're fully charged.  If you don't have one, you'll ruin the batteries.  Then you need one or more inverters to change that DC power into the AC your appliances require.  If you're going 100% solar, you will need enough panels to provide your power needs for the day and charge the batteries.  Also you will need enough extra panels to provide a cushion for times when the sky is partly cloudy so you still have the power you need and are able to charge the batteries.  Also you need to take into consideration that neither the batteries or inverters are 100% efficient.  You'll need more panels to compensate for this.

To go 100% solar you'll need a setup that can provide somewhere around 10 to 15 thousand watts.  The cost is why the solar companies in Arizona are leasing the panels instead of selling them.


You seriously need to look into a  grid tie system. Trying to run your own battery backup easily doubles the cost up front, and adds tons of maintenance costs down the road.
 
2013-07-13 01:07:59 PM  

Fizpez: This should be so straight forward it's idiotic there's even an argument.  The power company needs to (forced to by law if needed) decouple their pricing for electrical service with the pricing for electrical generation/sale.


That's actually, technically, what they're requesting (and that everyone is up in arms about): They want to charge grid-tie customers the transmission costs of the energy they use (which is already something broken out on most bills - take a look at the details). Right now, under net use metering, you can pay an electrical bill of $0 if your production exactly matches your use.

I don't know if it is reasonable to pay the full transmission cost - the power you generate, they're selling it to other customers nearby and charging them the full transmission cost, with nearly no transmission losses. And a home with balanced production and consumption tends to draw power during low-usage periods when there is plenty of excess capacity on the transmission infrastructure.
 
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