Utility Wants To Charge Solar Panel Users For Not Using Their Energy

from the that's-what's-called-chutzpah dept

There are banks that have worked out ways to charge you both for using and for not using your account enough, but hearing about Midwest utility Xcel Energy trying to justify its reasoning for charging homes with solar panels for not using their services is just mindbogglingly ridiculous:
"We just don't think it's fair that customers that don't have solar panels on their homes should subsidize these solar panel customers any further."
No, that doesn't make any sense. After all, isn't the whole point of those with solar panels being that they don't need much (if any) energy from the utility? I know in many places, the local utility will actually buy excess solar energy from home owners. But, here we are again with "entitlement society" at work. The idea, via Xcel, is that it's somehow owed its fees -- and if people are willing to go with an alternative, then they need to keep paying up anyway.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:38am

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    How are the other customers subsidizing the solar panel users? If anything, it's the other way around.

    Heck, if they started charging non-solar users extra for their demand on the grid, it would encourage solar uptake. Which is what we all want.

    Right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      BullJustin (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:55am

      Re: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

      Unfortunately, wrong. While that may be what we, the public consumers want, it is the opposite of what the electric company wants. The more people who become "producers" the more money the electric company has to pay out, which in turn cuts into their profits. Rather than seeing this as an opportunity to build a new business model they are trying to prop up their old one. This is the same kind of problem discussed so often on this blog.

      Let's face it, the vast majority of companies really only care about their bottom line. Most socially or environmentally responsible companies are only as responsible as it is fiscally beneficial to them. For these, social and environmental efforts are a marketing expense. It still falls to the smart consumer to discern whether the company they are buying from is truly responsible or just has a veneer of responsibility.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:12am

        Re: Re: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

        "The more people who become "producers" the more money the electric company has to pay out, which in turn cuts into their profits"

        It is only an issue when they produce for themselves alone. If users are producing and feeding power back on the grid, the power companies pay well under their true costs for the power, which means actually improved profits. If they can cut back their higher cost production and buy from lower priced providers, the bottom line improves.

        It's all in the way that you look at it.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Hephaestus (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:48pm

          Re: Re: Re: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

          The actual cost to the consumer in electricity isnt its production its the distribution. It seems that Xcel Energy does both so its not surprising that they would want to shut down people going solar. Solar cells are getting cheaper and more efficient. Within 5-10 years they will be efficient and cheap enough that in some places (think sunny) homeowners can become net producers of electricity.

          This is the last thing energy companies want .... suburbia and the boonies going green .... It would lose them both production and distribution profits.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        bretton (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 2:16pm

        Re: Re: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

        Profits for solar companies increase, not decrease, as solar panels are added to the grid (to a point). Even if the power company cuts a check to someone when they produce more than they consume, they still save money on transmission.

        One third of power lost is in the transmission. When solar panels are used, power is distributed locally, with lower loss in transmission. In the mean time, the end consumers still get charged as if the transmission was over the full distance. It costs the power company less to allow the producers on the grid.

        Where electricity markets allow for peak hour price increases, usually during the day when AC is blasting and solar production is at its peak, power companies do not need to pay producers full market rates. They can arbitrage the solar power, making additional money without additional cost.

        In areas like California where in state production is not enough to meet demand, power companies must purchase from out of state sources at higher rates. The long distance transmission losses is on their dime, resulting in higher costs for the power company.

        As solar production exceeds total demand, the economics change. However, in current US markets, having additional solar power on the grid is more profitable for power companies. I can certainly be wrong, but I'd like to see counter examples.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          bretton (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 2:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

          I do realize there is loss of revenue for the power that is not consumed. However, it is more beneficial for the power company to still be connected, rather than have the panels disconnected from the grid.

          I cannot edit my previous comment, but would like to clarify and say that the profits on the energy put into the grid from locally produced solar panels are higher than they would be from centrally generated sources.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          adamd, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 5:39pm

          Re: Re: Re: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

          Where do you get your info from? Transmission losses are actually more around 7-10%. Have any source showing 33% losses???

          As for purchasing the power, most have to purchase from the consumer at the rate at that time meaning no profit. If you want to function as producer, learn to deal with the lower charge.

          Also, solar ends up making things more expensive. Basically what this means is when power is purchased, a certain amount is required to be generated. When it can't be met, the cleanest generation method (nuclear) can't be spun up instantly, so coal / oil is used which isn't necessarily cheap nor clean. So when you are providing power and suddenly it gets cloudy, expensive alternatives must be brought in.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Scott, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 3:44pm

      Re: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

      re: How are the other customers subsidizing the solar panel users? If anything, it's the other way around.

      Two ways. 1) solar panel installations are very heavily subsidized through tax incentives and outright rebates.

      2) Solar users are not permanently off the grid. They produce power for themselves during daytime low demand periods and sell excess power into the system when it's least needed and are paid at prime rates for it that are much higher than the utilities own generating costs. Then they take power from the system in the evenings and mornings during peak periods. As a result, the utilities have to keep the same amount of generating capacity online as if they were there in case it rains or is too overcast or have any other problem. Those costs are passed on to all ratepayers.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      smokmpeacepipe, Oct 16th, 2009 @ 12:56am

      Re: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

      you make a very good point, the fact tho is that those who cant afford solar panels would be charged more for something they can barely afford as it is, and instead of it acting as an incentive to go solar, it would eventually turn into a demand to do so, raising the price of power will only empty out the pockets of again those who cant afford solar panels

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    DanOfSoCal, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:45am

    Subsidize solar panels

    I know the logic sounds backwards, but it makes sense if the solar panel users are still going to be wired up to the grid. I'm considering using solar power myself, and ultimately, I would put as much energy into the grid during the day as I would pull from it at night. My balance with the utility company would thus be zero. But if everyone did this, who would pay for the grid itself?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Ryan, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:54am

      Re: Subsidize solar panels

      This sounds like a really great way to empower consumers and counteract the natural monopoly of utility companies; unless they keep the rates down, the incentive to implement solar panels will increase as their overhead goes down over time. Thus, they must find ways to control costs and offer prices that convince residents not to switch partially to alternative energy sources.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      BullJustin (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:59am

      Re: Subsidize solar panels

      Ultimately it would be industrial and commercial enterprises that would bear the majority of the cost, which would in turn be passed on to their consumers, the individual people of the community. Ultimately, you just change from paying the electric company directly to paying them through third parties. With high exports, you could get the a large portion of outsiders paying for your power needs. Eventually, though, it all gets back down to individuals.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:14am

      Re: Subsidize solar panels

      "But if everyone did this, who would pay for the grid itself?"

      Well, it's supposed to be the utility. But they haven't. The few folks who DO solar to supplement their power are not the ones killing the grid. It's, once again, short sighted execs. The ones who now want the government (i.e., us) to pay for it.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      mobiGeek (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:04pm

      Re: Subsidize solar panels

      Done properly, you should be getting less credit for the power you are putting into the grid.

      They are the distributor. They should buy from you at a lowere price, and selling to consumers at a higher price. The difference pays to maintain their infrastructure and address their profit.

      When you take out of the grid, you should be paying that distribution markup. It is a convenience for you (saving you from having to maintain batteries, etc.).

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Trails, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 1:06pm

      Re: Subsidize solar panels

      Couple of things then:

      1. I doubt they buy at the same rate they sell
      2. Perhaps a monthly connection fee then is appropriate?

      Claiming that solar panel users are somehow "cheating" cause the util hasn't taken this into account in their billing structure is blaming the wrong person.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Skeptical Cynic, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 2:08pm

      Re: Subsidize solar panels

      You are a special kind of idiot. All I can say to you is this, if everyone did this then no one would be using the grid. God you must be one of the stupid people that voted for Obama and think you are entitled to what other people earn via the taxes others pay.

      Please for the love of all things good and sane never, ever comment on this site again.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Relonar, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 3:40pm

        Re: Re: Subsidize solar panels

        Cynic, that was completely uncalled for. The man posed a simple question using the (somewhat incomplete) information that was given.

        To restate: If a person produces enough energy such that the credit he receives during the day equals the cost of usage during the night and if a very large number of consumers did this, how would the power company deal with this loss of revenue?

        Cynic's reply "if everyone did this no one would be using the grid" is, well, incorrect.
        Consumers are not storing their own energy to use later, bypassing the grid, here they become grid suppliers.

        Solar power used this way acts like many other non-storage production already on the grid in the way that it has a maximum potential at any given time to supply the grid, but if there is not enough demand the supply will never give %100 of it capabilities.
        For example: a power plant has a capacity of 500MW, yet the consumers on the part of the grid that the plant supplies are only using 200MW at a given time. The plant does not receive credit for the 500MW capacity, but only the 200MW that is being pumped into the grid. This is a bit simplified, but basically how it works. therefor plant managers carefully regulate the plants capacity to match the grid demand so there is minimum overproduction.


        If consumers are receiving credit for energy placed into the grid it IS being used by someone else at that time, therefor the business managers of the distribution company will still make a hefty profit during daytime hours, less resources used by their plants, low cost local power supplied by solar, and selling that power for more than its cost.

        During nighttime the grid will operate much as it always has with commercial plants producing and residents using that power.

        Therefor even though the net cost to residents using solar cells might be extremely low, maybe even zero, the distribution company will still make a very nice profit.

        and people will still use the grid.

        DanOfSoCal: very good question, post as much as you want

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 10:03am

          Re: Re: Re: Subsidize solar panels

          how would the power company deal with this loss of revenue?


          Loss of income? Oh, no!! We can't have that! That's why employers should also be prohibited from dismissing employees. Otherwise, how would employees deal with a loss of income?

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Paul, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 10:08am

      Re: Subsidize solar panels

      These companies used to be PUBLIC utilities...they were owned by the people and provided power and great service at much lower cost. They were privatized and deregulated and now offer the same product with lower quality of service at a much higher price. It's time to take back what was ours to begin with. It's obvious that these people have no clue that the utility exists not as a cash-cow for them but to provide the life blood of energy for society. The people, through public ownership and taxes, built the grid. We were quite capable and responsible back then...we can and should own, maintain and expand the grid for the public benefit.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      JoJo, Sep 20th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

      Re: Subsidize solar panels

      The utility company has to have a certain percentage from solar/wind per the state/federal goverment and the homes that have solar/wind are giving/selling them the solar engey credits(SEC).
      Everyone will not put solar on there homes/apts and in certain areas it's not cost eff. They are still very expensive and if you near a lot trees and /or several other factor play into ... should you get solar panels. Most homes/business will always be tied to the grid 50 to 100%.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:46am

    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/20174458/detail.html

    You sort of have to read a little further to see. It would appear that they charge only for electicity used, and not for a grid connection. So for users who are connected to the grid but don't use any power, there is no fee. The power company appears to be moving to charge a minimum fee to remain connected.

    The consumerist blog is a little off on this one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Jesse, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:29am

      Re:

      Do taxes not take care of grid connections? I mean I live in the land up north, where not everything is privatized, but seriously why do you guys even pay taxes if everything is owned by private companies?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:50am

    Just amazing.

    "Henley said the fee is a preventative measure to ensure that, down the road, solar customers do not get free rides."

    Lets ignore the fact that solar panels are not free and take forever to pay themselves off, obviously don't work 24 hours out of the day, and in fact only helping out by doing their own little minor part in bringing down power drain on the grid reducing operating and maintenance costs.

    Where he gets off saying that people using less resources of the power plant will increase other people's bills is just so freaking stupid it's hurting my head.

    And NO shut up! oil prices went down, my electric bill went down, mild winter and mild summer, electric bill went down cause less people were using it! BS that more people using power will cause some sort of bizarro world reverse supply and demand dynamic!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    I routinely get charged for not using power.

    If I used 0-zero kW-h of energy. If I had 100% Solar Energy with GaPower backup I would still have to pay about $10.

    They can just up the fees for low-watt users.

    GaNaturalGas is worse, charging me about $32 each month for the privilege of Natural Gas heat.

    Water company has also learned this little trick and started charging Environmental Impact cost and a cost for the pipe size coming to my house, $7 for a 3/4inch pipe connection.

    So, If I go on vacation, shut off power, natural gas and water, I still get billed almost $50 a month. (Not counting taxes on the fees).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    You've gotta admit that charging people to not use your services is a pretty good business model if you can get away with it...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      DJ (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:42am

      Re:

      No, it is NOT a good business model.
      It is, however, capitalism at it's finest. So even though I think it's BS, I gotta give it up to 'em for that much.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        DJ (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:47am

        Re: Re:

        Caveat..

        I'm merely referring to getting as much money as they can.

        I am NOT referring talking about the "no-fair" attitude.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Ryan, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:48am

        Re: Re:

        Actually, it is socialism at its finest. They have a monopoly because competitors are not allowed to offer their own grids, courtesy of the government. Otherwise, residents would simply choose not to use their services--the beauty of capitalism. What they have now is a government-provided monopoly on service, and they punish those that invest and innovate by claiming that it is unfair for the rest of the community.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        hegemon13, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 3:00pm

        Re: Re:

        "It is, however, capitalism at it's finest."

        No, actually it is not. It is only a government-granted-and-regulated monopoly that allows them to do it in the first place. If there were actually competition, there is no way this practice would fly.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

        Re: Re:

        At no point is Capitalism in play here. Power utilities generally fall under the government-endorsed monopoly, which is about as far away from Capitalism as you can get.

        The government's involvement completely destroys all free-market/capitalism mechanisms that would prevent or deal with the abuse of, ahem, power that we are seeing.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          monkyyy (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:11pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          since when does capitalism deal with abuse of the system?

          last i checked it was who could abuse the system the best came out on top

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

        Re: Re:

        It is, however, capitalism at it's finest.

        I'd say it's capitalism run amok, rather that at it's finest.

        And no, this isn't socialism either. The utility companies bought and paid for their monopolies. That's what happens when unbridled capitalism meets gov't: you get the best gov't money can buy. It works pretty well for the banks and telcos too. If you don't like it, try to out bid them.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:00am

    weren't you just criticizing "fact checking"?

    most solar users provide power during the day, but still take power at night. virtually no one is completely off the grid. and it still costs something to maintain the gear (the lines, the net meter installation, and servicemen). $1.90 is more than reasonable as a maintenance fee... especially when you compare it to getting cable internet without cable tv (usually $30+).

    and in a pure market analysis, unless the consumer buys a ton of batteries, the consumer still needs the power company more than the power company needs the consumer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 12:49pm

      Re: weren't you just criticizing "fact checking"?

      most solar users provide power during the day, but still take power at night.

      And guess what? They *pay* for the power they use at night. They don't get it for free, you know.

      it still costs something to maintain the gear (the lines, the net meter installation, and servicemen).

      Yeah, and it costs the homeowner to maintain his solar cells, inverters, etc. Now if he sells power back to the utility, then the utility becomes "the customer" in that deal. So perhaps the homeowner should collect a "connection fee" from the utility as well. Then the two fees can cancel each other out.

      $1.90 is more than reasonable as a maintenance fee... especially when you compare it to getting cable internet without cable tv (usually $30+).

      What kind of argument is that? What the hell does that have to do with it?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:12am

    A utility will still have costs associated with keeping people who use solar energy connected to their system. There are very real costs associated with maintaining a system and enough power supply to provide how much energy a home with solar power COULD use (in an emergency, or whatever) vs. how much you actually use.

    If you completely remove yourself from the grid, fine. You should pay for nothing.

    Otherwise, if you're still connected to the grid you should pay your fair share of grid maintenance, load demand and other charges. Paying on a kw-hr basis won't distribute that cost equitably.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Luke Stackwalker, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

      Re:

      It's the cost of doing business. Each solar installation is a mini power plant. There are capital costs and operational/distribution costs. The grid fee is just that, an operational cost. Just like paying for gas to drive local food to a farmer's market, etc.

      But, as long as the fee is "reasonable", it's the right thing to do!

      If the fee is unreasonable, then let the solar revolt (pardon the pun) begin.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 12:57pm

      Re:

      Otherwise, if you're still connected to the grid you should pay your fair share of grid maintenance, load demand and other charges. Paying on a kw-hr basis won't distribute that cost equitably.

      By the same token then the power utility should pay a connection fee to you to pay their fair share of maintenance on your equipment. Paying on a kWhr basis won't distribute that cost equitably either.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Me, Jul 29th, 2009 @ 12:24pm

      Re:

      Not true, the power company is still saving money because they aren't haveing to produce that amount of energy in the first place. A solar home saves the company more money than it costs. Anyone saying otherwise must own stock in the E company. The more people going solar the more the company can down size and still make as much profit as before. Laid off workers can go to work for solar companies.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    lavi d (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:23am

    Deja Fuel

    I predicted this... sort of.

    "I can't wait until I hear some energy exec whining in an interview about how people shouldn't be allowed to own and operate Mr. Fusions because it's destroying his business."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Phil Walthall, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Xcel Energy

    This utility charging customers for NOT using their power is absolutely stupid. This confirms to me that most of the people in leadership positions from the Midwest, haven't a clue. No one excluded, just take a moment to consider just how messed up our situation today is and how our socialistic government is also clueless.
    Please excuse the rant. The management of Xcel Energy, based on this article, is stupid.
    My honest opinion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      W, Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 6:14pm

      Re: Xcel Energy

      Guess what I have a power company named MidAmerican here in Iowa and they have a $10.00 min charge per month for using nothing! I leave during the winter and even if I cut the power off at the main I have to pay so I have to waste my and their time to shut off the power every winter. I thought about leaving it on but I don't see the need just to wrap pipes and keep water warm. OH that is another one too..City of Pisgah charges me for my sewer hook up (another 10/month) even if the water is off!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:25am

    Plenty of examples of this. In the NW, the water company regularly lobbies to raise rates because residents don't use enough water to cover the utility's bills (or profit margin). They also blame the weather. One year, it doesn't rain/snow enough, so the reservoirs are too low so they have to raise the rates. The next year it snowed too much, and they had to release too much water from the reservoirs, so they have to raise rates.

    It's a simple monopolistic grift. The only answer is to drill your own well, and go off the grid. Until they tax you for putting in a rain barrel in your backyard.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      wnyght, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

      Re:

      Speanking of unfair water bills.... My friends dad lives about an hour north of houston, owns his own property, and has a well on it. The local govnt. there wants to out a meter on his well and start taxing him for usage. HIS well on HIS property, out in the country.

      Land of the Free my @ss!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 1:02pm

        Re: Re:

        Speanking of unfair water bills.... My friends dad lives about an hour north of houston, owns his own property, and has a well on it. The local govnt. there wants to out a meter on his well and start taxing him for usage. HIS well on HIS property, out in the country.

        Does he happen to also be connected to their sewage system? Sewage treatment rates are usually based on water usage because sewage is difficult to meter directly.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Scott, Jul 29th, 2009 @ 1:33am

          Re: Re: Re:

          re:Speanking of unfair water bills.... My friends dad lives about an hour north of houston, owns his own property, and has a well on it. The local govnt. there wants to out a meter on his well and start taxing him for usage. HIS well on HIS property, out in the country.

          You don't understand Western water rights. Water rights, mineral rights and the land they're under may be owned by three or more different entities. Each with very specific legal rights. Your friends dad probably only has rights to pump a specific amount of water. Exceed that and you're taking someone elses water and that can get very expensive in dry areas. The meter is to track that.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Livinintheboonies, Sep 21st, 2009 @ 3:29am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Does he happen to also be connected to their sewage system? Sewage treatment rates are usually based on water usage because sewage is difficult to meter directly."

          In most rural locations, the property has a septic tank, so there would be no sewer connection.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Tghu Verd, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 8:16pm

      Re:

      Anonymous Coward writes:

      > Until they tax you for putting in a
      > rain barrel in your backyard.

      Guess what...in Australia they do!! Well, it's an urban myth at least that if you install a rain tank and apply for some rebate from the Government, a levy is applied to your water bills. Can't recall the exact explanation as to why you should be charged for this, but sounds like a typical Government "good idea" to me that if it's not true deserves to be so...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Gracey, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:27am

    wow, did they forget it costs people with solar energy in their homes to get it there? Oh, wait...I'm sure they think the solar panels fell out of the sky...

    We got a friend who has no services in his home - he provides all his own - green as green can be. Our town hasn't seen fit to charge him for not using any of their services...but then, he's totally off the grid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:29am

    They are charging them to a fee because they are still using the services of the grid they are connected to as a battery. Their solar panels do not produce at night so they are drawing energy from the grid. During the day, their extra power goes into the grid to pay off the night usage.

    Them charging you a fee to be used as a battery is perfectly reasonable. Without the connection to the grid their system of using solar panels wouldn't work on it's own.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:30am

    Question

    Honest question: Who owns the grid? Because my thoughts on this change depending on the possible answers...

    1. The government: Well, then fuck you, Mr. Edison. I already pay to maintain the grid, and you sure as shit aren't going to charge me as a powerbroker if my net use of power is 0 or in the negative. You can try to charge me all you want, but let's get in front of a trial jury. You can wave your hands around, have your lawyers do their little Shaman monkey-dances and explain away why this makes sense. I'll get in front of them, point to you, and say, "They want to charge me for not using their power. That is all."

    2. A govt. subsidized utility firm(s), purposely monopolized through deregulation: a slightly less strong fuck you to Mr. Edison. I still think you're full of shit, but since you've purposely muddied the waters so badly that you can make the argument that the sky is orange, all I'm going to ask is that you allow an independent 3rd party do a study on the cost per household for grid connection, add 1% for your trouble, and then charge me that price, locked in for 3 years. After 3 years, we can do another study.

    3. The Mole People: I've always known that are utilities were actually managed and maintained by underground mole people! I just knew it! As a result, I promise to give you free candied pecans and allow you to watch cable TV on a sofa chair for all eternity! Doug the Mole Man lives! Someone call Shavuhl!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:42am

      Re: Question

      I know this probably varies greatly but I work for a coop and we own all of the lines and the only government subsidies came in the form of government loans that we have do have to pay back in full.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Jason, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 3:56pm

        Re: Re: Question

        Well, that and public easements of other people's property.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 1:09pm

          Re: Re: Re: Question

          Well, that and public easements of other people's property.

          And that's a big one. If they had to actually buy or lease all that property, especially in prime markets, it would dwarf the rest of their costs.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Glen Welch, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:33am

    Solar Charge??

    Just shows that no matter what you do to save money or power, someone else will try to screw you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    jerry, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:34am

    almost magic?

    I'm still trying to figure out how he thinks he's generating enough for 5 or 6 houses, yet his bill is barely down 50% at best. If it were true, just get battery storage and get off the grid already.


    "Mike Jacoby, who installed solar panels on the roof of his home two years ago, bristled at the notion that he is not doing his part.

    Jacoby said the installation cuts his monthly electrical fee by anywhere from 33 to 50 percent a month. In return, his home acts as a power plant, generating energy for Xcel that can power some of the homes on his block.

    "Mine are generating enough to feed five or six houses around me electricity, so there's no free ride," said Jacoby."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Nobody, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:35am

    charge for not using solar panels

    I thought the U.S had a law where the power company had to buy all extra energy you produced , meaning they pay you not the other way!!!!!

    I see this as they know they are about to lose their cash cow , so now they are trying to breath life back into it......at our cost......I really hope Obama steps in here and tells them to deal

    after all if I buy a solar or any other power generator why should they profit??
    after all "I bought it not them!!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:35am

    everyone wants something for NOTHING!

    Fuck'em!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:48am

    ALready paid

    I paid the utility company a exorbitant amount to put in a pole, transformer and line to my new house. I consider that paying for the infrastructure to connect to the grid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 1:13pm

      Re: ALready paid

      I paid the utility company a exorbitant amount to put in a pole, transformer and line to my new house. I consider that paying for the infrastructure to connect to the grid.

      Some people would like to forget about that. Especially the ones with some power utility stocks in their portfolio.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    DJ (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:51am

    All the time...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Thomas, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:56am

    Next they will charge...

    for energy efficient appliances because they do not use enough energy.

    So if I switch to line drying for my clothes, get a super efficient washer, and a super refrig, then my bill will go down, but the utility will then force me to pay an "insufficient use" surcharge?

    Do the utilities really want people to become more energy efficient? No.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    sd, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    Subsidize solar panels

    Isn't this what the phone company has done for a hundred years?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Michael Kohne, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:12pm

    Someone has to maintain the wires...

    The problem they are actually trying to solve is that the power company in question rolls the line maintenance into the base cost of the power. If they started to get any significant portion of their customer base generating their own power, then the power company would have a problem paying for maintenance of the lines, generators, etc.

    The only real problem with how this was presented was just that - presentation. The power company guys couldn't be bothered to figure out how to present this so that people wouldn't think they were being jerks.

    Here's my suggestion:
    "We're going to be breaking out the costs on everyone's bill, so you can see how much you are paying for generation, as opposed to distribution. You'll see a reduction on the per-kwh rate for the first N kwh each month. Overall, you'll pay the same amount of money, it will just look different on your bill."

    With that, they've moved the maintenance costs out where you can see them. Then when someone comes up with a net zero for generation, they still end up paying for maintenance, unless they want to disconnect. And since it was done without reference to zero-bill customers, the company doesn't end up looking like total jerks.

    Obviously, you need to make the math work out so that the normal users don't lose any money on the deal (or you get crucified for stealth rate raises).

    The really INTERESTING thing here is the fact that the power company is actually in 2 businesses - generation (or buying) of power, and distribution of power. They are related, but separate. In the past, since they were so linked (and you couldn't get one without the other), they could just charge one rate. In the future, where you might want access to their services (incurring the full 'distribution' costs), but where you might make your own power (at least some of the time), the power company needs to charge separately for these services.

    This is similar to the problem faced by professional photographers today. It used to be that if you wanted good pictures, you not only needed someone to shoot well, but also to print them well. So photographers rolled everything into one cost. Now a days, I can print them more than well enough for my uses on my inkjet printer. So how does the photographer make money in a world where no one wants to pay him for the processing? The only sensible thing is to charge for what he's actually good at that his customer's aren't - the taking of the photos.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:23pm

    Standby Charges

    ... are commonly charged by water, sewer and other utilities. These, IMO, should be flat charges rather than unit charges.

    Anyway, buying batteries to store the excess you produce during the daylight hours will quickly convince you that the grid offers something of value.

    There's no free lunch.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Charles, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:32pm

    I wonder if they're the same owners as MPAA & RIAA...??

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Laurent GUERBY, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:39pm

    Same kind of struggle in France

    A few days ago there were some discussions in France about an administrative decision on "smart grid" company offer to have a box to switch off some home appliances in order to balance grid when needed:

    http://blogs.ft.com/energy-source/2009/07/22/frances-complicated-relationship-with-effici ency/

    Text of the french administrative decision (with some pictures):

    http://www.cre.fr/fr/content/download/8808/155078/file/090709Effacementsdiffus.pdf

    There's not enough information available for me (yet) to sort out what this means.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Laurent GUERBY, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:40pm

    Same kind of struggle in France

    A few days ago there were some discussions in France about an administrative decision on "smart grid" company offer to have a box to switch off some home appliances in order to balance grid when needed:

    http://blogs.ft.com/energy-source/2009/07/22/frances-complicated-relationship-with-effici ency/

    Text of the french administrative decision (with some pictures):

    http://www.cre.fr/fr/content/download/8808/155078/file/090709Effacementsdiffus.pdf

    There's not enough information available for me (yet) to sort out what this means.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Dave R, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:41pm

    Isn't this a form of extortion?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Michial Thompson, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 1:04pm

    If you dont like the charge

    Then disconnect your little solar panels from the grid and see just how long you go before your crying for them to hook you back up.

    Don't pay that fee and see how fast you are complaining that you don't have power when the first hail storm breaks up your little solar panel, or the first week of rain and you cannot generate enough to heat your coffee.

    The fee isn't to make them rich, it's to cover the costs that exist to keep that power available to you and for you to sell that power to them. Perhaps it would be better if you bought your own meters, paid for all your own wiring all the way to the substation.

    The law says they have to buy back the excess you generate, it doesn't say they have to pay the costs for you to feed that excess back into the system

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Ryan, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

      Re: If you dont like the charge

      Perhaps it would be better if you bought your own meters, paid for all your own wiring all the way to the substation.

      Great idea, now we just need to allow it. Either let other companies build their own power grids, or designate the routes as public (since they require public space) and split the cost among whomever wants to provide power over them.

      Otherwise, Xcel has a monopoly that allows them to dictate prices without any incentive to keep them low. Solar cells have techological limitations that prevent most of us from relying on them exclusively, but that doesn't mean that the public should be helpless against whichever company the government gave the utility rights to. They should be perfectly able to adapt their business model for the time being to utilize solar energy supplementation in lieu of fees.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      ..., Jul 27th, 2009 @ 6:23pm

      Re: If you dont like the charge

      You're kind of an ass aren't you ...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    jilocasin, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

    Paying for not using isn't all that uncommon.

    Up in our neck of the woods, the municipal water district lobbied for (and got) a 5% increase in the water rate. The reason, people we conserving 'too' much. In order to keep making the same amount of money (or more) they need to keep increasing the rates if people have the nerve to use less water. The real killer though was the 15% stealth waste water hike. Sewer bills are calculated as water bill * 3. Oh and the same municipal company handles both water and sewer.

    As for electricity, they 'sort of' deregulated a few years back. We have a monopoly distributor and our choice of several electric generators. Wouldn't you know it, 80% of our electric bill is for distribution and not choosing a supplier (the standard offer) gets you the best rate. Of course there is only a $0.2-$0.5 difference in the rates offered.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Chris In Utah, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 1:24pm

    Green Vs What we need?

    Seems to be the same ride the Bank backed Federal Reserve sits in.

    Would be so harmful to have free energy? It's a concept in plenty of movies that has some power hungry ass hole at the top of it or wanting to destroy it.

    The concept that everything eventually has a 0 market value somewhere does exist. Yet those who drink wine have an inane sense that wine is going to be drank 50 years from now. -Some futuristic Anime.

    Next stop personal water filtration system? I know my county flier of what's in my water is none to.. up stressing. (Side note Sodium Fluoride is #1 ingredient in rat poison.)

    All I know is its something we strive for; Self-reliance is a virtue, remember that next time you pay any bill.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Talmyr (profile), Jul 28th, 2009 @ 7:15am

      Re: Green Vs What we need?

      And Dihydrogen Monoxide is the #1 ingredient in Coca-Cola, which is 'bad' for you (or your teeth at least), so obviously DM is bad for you too.

      Sucks to be your logic teacher!

      Also, I think you're thinking of Sodium fluoroacetate, not Sodium fluoride. Toxic in large enough doses, but then so is the aforementioned DM.

      Sucks to be your science teacher! :)

      So why won't wine be drunk in 50 years?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 1:39pm

    most power companies don't pay for solar power

    most power companies don't pay you for power you put into the grid.

    Most take it and give you "credit" towards power in the future, but this "credit" is wiped out either monthly or yearly.

    Some others will pay a fraction of the retail cost of the power when they wipe the credit, but it is so low it dosen't amount to anything.

    The only power company in the US that buys power at full retail price that I have been able to find is the Florida Keys Power Cooperative.

    Power companies buying renewable power from individuals makes great headlines, but the facts don't back it up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Truths_Razor, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 1:48pm

    This is just another example of the corrupt infrastructure in America taking advantage of it's citizens, And the fact that some people are so brainwashed as to stick up for the Big Brother Big Business Corporate Demon is beyond me, Free energy is all around us we wouldn't need a grid if we used it, and even so the excess could be sold back to the grid as it's done in every other civilized country and state around the globe. Turn off the TV and read a book, Tesla was going to transmit energy wirelessly, J.P. Morgan said if I cant meter it I don't want it. stopped funding and had him Blackballed. Even though Tesla's system of AC is what we use today, Edison got credit even though his DC system was not the one used. This boils down to one thing the motto of Big Business is to spend as little as possible and charge the highest rate allowed by law. they don't want to buy the excess back but rather charge the solar user for them loosing money to stop the movement of others doing this thereby creating a real loss, or is it a loss if you have excess power on hand and can resale it to other providers? The old bushiness ways are dying quickly Big business had better learn to adapt or face sure doom. Which in My Humble Opinion wouldn't be such a bad thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Truths_Razor, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 1:48pm

    This is just another example of the corrupt infrastructure in America taking advantage of it's citizens, And the fact that some people are so brainwashed as to stick up for the Big Brother Big Business Corporate Demon is beyond me, Free energy is all around us we wouldn't need a grid if we used it, and even so the excess could be sold back to the grid as it's done in every other civilized country and state around the globe. Turn off the TV and read a book, Tesla was going to transmit energy wirelessly, J.P. Morgan said if I cant meter it I don't want it. stopped funding and had him Blackballed. Even though Tesla's system of AC is what we use today, Edison got credit even though his DC system was not the one used. This boils down to one thing the motto of Big Business is to spend as little as possible and charge the highest rate allowed by law. they don't want to buy the excess back but rather charge the solar user for them loosing money to stop the movement of others doing this thereby creating a real loss, or is it a loss if you have excess power on hand and can resale it to other providers? The old bushiness ways are dying quickly Big business had better learn to adapt or face sure doom. Which in My Humble Opinion wouldn't be such a bad thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    NotFromToronto (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 1:52pm

    This actually makes some sense to me

    This is clearly a case of poorly communicating the justification for something that actually makes some sense.

    When you pay for anything on a rated scale, the overhead costs associated with running the the company is baked into that rate. While green energy alternatives are great, at present, they don't actually remove any of the overhead costs for the energy companies. (We may get to a point where this happens, we just aren't there yet.)

    The inevitable side effect is, rates go up. The more and more people who move to green alternatives, the fewer people paying the increased rates, and they must go up again.

    Now, if people adding green alternatives was actually also enabling a reduction in overhead costs associated with running the hydro company, that'd be a different story. Ironically, I actually suspect if anything there's been an increase in administrative overhead due to the increased adoption of green alternative consumers plugged into the grid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      CleverName, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 6:28pm

      Re: This actually makes some sense to me

      So, if I choose to turn down the thermostat in the winter, or up in the summer ... then I am "stealing" from those who do not do this. Interesting - Doublethink

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    dumbfounded, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 2:06pm

    no really

    So i have a house / cabin in the bush. No nothing for nothing.
    To make sure i'm getting billed do I need an address?
    Now if they are going to send me a bill then they will need to run the power lines to the cabin (+67K was what i was quoted)thats roughly 1k per pole.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 6:35pm

      Re: no really

      Well yeah, but they aren't worried about it if you aren't connected. If you want to run solar panels and have no connection to the grid, well then more power to you ;)

      If you want to be on the grid, pay the 67k it would cost, and then you can sell power back to the utility - but they will still charge you a connection fee to maintain your connection.

      Next.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 5:06am

        Re: Re: no really

        "they aren't worried about it if you aren't connected."

        Correct, in the case of one person. However, if everyone did the same ...

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    TW Burger (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    Monopolies are Greedy

    My cable company charges me for not using the television services (I simply use the free broadcast on the air) and just the Internet access. The joke here in Canada (where this is standard practice) is that "no one dares cancel the cable completely - we couldn't possibly afford it" (credit: Royal Canadian Air Farce).

    The cable companies insist that television revenues subsidize Internet service and the non-user fee is to make up the loss of revenue.

    Personally I think this is like sending out invoices to companies that did not hire me because they still cost me job search expenses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Vincent Clement, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 6:15am

      Re: Monopolies are Greedy

      Standard practise? Most Canadian cable companies offer standalone packages for Internet, digital TV, analog TV and home phone service.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    JJ, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 2:45pm

    Hmm...

    I call shenanigans on Mike Masnick for failing to actually read the article he's writing about... or worse, for reading and then intentionally misrepresenting it. (Which is funny, because I must admit, I almost *always* agree with Mike).

    It appears that the company is merely talking about charging a tiny (the article says less than $2) flat connection fee for the security and convenience of being being hooked up to their electrical grid.

    Don't get me wrong; I *do* think that this fee is unnecessary and ultimately counterproductive. it's just not totally absurd, stupid, or evil as Mike implies.

    What's wrong with charging this fee? Simple. All that the energy company needs to do is operate like any other business: buy energy from customers who are currently producing extra, and sell it to people who aren't... but obviously, sell the energy for more than you pay for it. That way, even if everyone gets solar panels and becomes energy-neutral, the (re)distribution company still remains profitable while providing a valuable service; the only difference is that they're sourcing their energy from customers instead of power plants.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Clueby4, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 3:51pm

    Maintaince? Either you're obtuse or a turfer

    Maintenance, you expect anyone with half a clue to believe that?

    Most of the infrastructure costs are either ignored, or past onto customers, developers, and/or the local municipality.

    How about this, they can charge maintenance when they start paying property taxes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    computergenious (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 4:20pm

    What you guys dont understand is!

    The power company probably cant charge non users directly! However, as long as they fund politicians into office they can always get rate increases and taxes levied against all! So all of our rates will rise, and solar is a LONG way from ever giving an ROI. Because the equipment is NOT static and will always need replacing and upgrading. Batteries, inverters, will always need upgrading. And while the solar users are spending life fortunes over and over again to "go off the grid" and ever selling any measurable amount of energy back to the energy company you are fooling yourself. So indirectly it is possible. And i remember a cartoon in a magazine probably 20 some years ago showing two employees from a power company holding a billboard sign blocking the sun from reaching a solar panel users home, and would not move until they paid their bill. Call me cynical and ill show you an out of control government!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    nraddin, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 7:33pm

    you want connection, you pay for connection

    The Util isn't going to charge you if you are not connected to the grid at all. I have some plans for a cottage that will have not electric attachment but will have solar, I will pay nothing to the power company. But the solar panels on my house don't give me eletric full time, I sell to the power company during the day and at night I buy back. They are asking for a small fee to continue that relationship. If I find it unfair then I can buy batteries and run my house off the grid completely, but the cost is to high to that at the moment.

    To put it another way, image if everyone in your town but you went solar. You would be paying huge fees to keep everyone elses lines running, this is a way to of set that cost as solar and the like become more popular.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 2:07am

    Here in the North East - Separation of Usage and Infrastructure

    In New England basically all utilities, water, sewer, electricity, phone have been broken down into infrastructure charges and usage charges. In the case of electricity one company supports the infrastructure (transport), and you can buy electricity from any number of providers at slightly different rates. Some infrastructure costs as based on usage like sewer but some not...like the phone land line. I have no opinion if good or bad, but this is the direction everything has moved in the past 20 years or so. As a consumer I basically look at my costs and then determine which utilities I want and how much I want to use them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Brian, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 10:55am

    Misconceptions

    I work for a power company, so let me try and clear a misconception.

    Power companies aren't going to complain all that much if a percentage of residential users reduce their energy consumption. Not now. Why? Well, for one thing, commercial customers make up a large percentage of our customer base and they aren't likely to go away. But it's also because with all the new environmental regulations that utilities are subjected to, power companies are being asked to invest heavily in infrastructure - billions on emissions scrubbers and new plants that produce electricity more cleanly than the old fossil plants. In my state, we're also subjected to laws that require a specific percentage of our energy production to come from renewable sources in the next 15-20 years. Which means buying up power from solar and wind farms, despite the fact that those farms usually generate a very small fraction of the power needed in a region. A percentage of residential customers moving off the grid would not be a bad thing to us... it might mean that we could eliminate the need to spend billions on new scrubbers or that we could decommision old fossil plants to get us closer to our emissions requirements without buildign pricier, cleaner replacements.

    It's absurd to suggest that customers connected to the grid should somehow be exempt for paying for the upkeep of the distribution system. A power grid is complex and is expected to reach every home, regardless of the cost to the company to connect the remotest of sites. As users of the grid, its reasonable to expect everyone to pay for its maintenance. It's not as if the utility take three times as long to turn your power back on after a hurricane because you buy three times less power than the average consumer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 3:57pm

      Re: Misconceptions

      A power grid is complex and is expected to reach every home, regardless of the cost to the company to connect the remotest of sites.

      My parents had an older house in a mid-size city that originally had no air conditioning. When they wanted to add air conditioning a few years ago, the wires from the utility company weren't large enough to handle the load and my parents had to pay the cost straight out of their own pockets to upgrade the lines and even install new poles to hold them. Now remember, this was in the city. So much for claim that the utility company picks up the tab "regardless of the cost to the company to connect the remotest of sites." That's just pure bunk.

      Now a few years later the utility has added a new charge to their monthly bills: a line charge. That's right, the utility is charging a monthly fee for the very lines my parents paid for. So they're being paid for twice.

      And from what I understand, when a developer puts in a new subdivision, the developer has to pay for the installation water, sewage, gas, and electrical utility service also. Not the utility companies.

      And as for truly remote locations, I bet you were hoping no one would mention that the federal gov't provides funding for installation of electrical distribution systems to serve rural areas of the United States, weren't you?

      I don't know what you're job with a power company is (lobbyist maybe?), but telling half truths is no way to clear up "misconceptions" as you called it.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 9:52pm

      Re: Misconceptions

      "It's not as if the utility take three times as long to turn your power back on after a hurricane because you buy three times less power than the average consumer."

      Uh, yes, that's how it seems to work where I live. I remember one large storm that knocked out power to a lot of people in my area. The power company prioritized which customers would be reconnected first. First there were customers that were essential to health and safety, like the hospitals, police and water system, of course, and they had these all back online within hours. But then after that your place in line did indeed depend on how large a customer you were and the largest commercial customers were first. Then, when they finally got down to the residential customers, I noticed that they even started with the more affluent neighborhoods first and worked their way down from there. It took several weeks for them to finally get to mine. When they did, it only took them lees than an hour to fix it (they had to splice the line back together and replace the fuse). So basically, I was without power for several weeks because they didn't want to bring in an outside storm crew (expensive) to do a one hour job for a street full of lowly residential customers. I guess that would have eaten into profits and it was cheaper to have us offline for a while than to fix it.

      And the thing is, it was really the power company's fault the electricity on my street was out in the first place. You see, back before deregulation they used come through once a year trimming back the kind of tree branches that knocked the power out on my street to begin with. But then after deregulation they stopped doing that kind of preventative maintenance. The only time a tree limb gets trimmed now is *after* it knocks the power out, which happens quite often these days. It seems they figured out that they could sacrifice reliability in order to increase profits. Of course, it's not like there's another power company I could go to. Yea deregulated monopolies. And yes it does take them longer to restore power to the little people than the big commercial customers.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Brian, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 7:05pm

    Re:Misconceptions

    Your examples describe the construction of new transmission systems, while I was describing the maintenance of the systems after they have been set up. I think you can understand the difference. The costs associated with a transmission systems don't go away after they've been set up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2009 @ 10:15pm

    I'm going to buy a new car and then charge XL for not driving it. Same nonsensical stupid "logic". These are nothing but greedy bastards, plain and simple. How many times have they made such a big deal on their rate increases by saying they don't make profit on the electricity itself? They tell us they are only raising our rates because Their Costs Increased. They always say they make their money on only the delivery of services. It's gotten to the point where it's not even a challenge to catch them lying through their teeth, because it's ALL lies. Get off their grid, make your own electricity, and tell them to simply go straight to lying, bloody, greedy HELL! Simple, really

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Donna Smith, Nov 11th, 2009 @ 5:13pm

    Charging for non-use

    Greetings:

    If enough residents install solar panels and they insist on an absentee fee to keep their cronies in high-paying jobs,threaten a class action lawsuit and write your Congressman.

    That's a start, but it needs to be a class-action suit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    erin, Sep 21st, 2013 @ 2:43am

    If the companies owners had a brain!

    I find more and more everyday from news an ext. That most of these hirer ups or company owners , aka ones who are already rich and are greedy and are always trying to make them selfs richer and in this case try and punish the poorer for making and investment for them selfs to make electric costs lower so they can try and come up in the world is rediculus . They are not only greedy but selfish for money can only buy so much, but yet causes so much violence, hatetred and even war all because money is power in todays society and if you do one thing they don't like because it interferres with their whealth and power over the poorer then bam ! They will make a law to punish you for it or make you pay (making them richer because they'll still make money off you that way) and doing so also will make our greedy governments money as well for as if you break the law or they sue you over the solar panels the courts and or gov. Officials will be paid as well to make the judgments in court. If they were a smart and wise buisness man you would think they would not be so close minded as most of them are. They want to be greedy and be a successful rich buisness man fine, but don't do it in a corrupt selfish way and look at the bigger picture. For instance ...When people buy solar panels that money comes out of they're pocket which eventually pays its self off in the long run ..power companies buy your extra unused power that you produce off YOUR solar panels that cost you money not them .In which I am asuming (I may be wrong) that they don't pay you as much for youre energey that was made at a safer more enviromentally safe way , as they have to pay the power plants that have to pay workers a higher rate of pay due to job risks not to mention the ungodly amount of money they have to pay for insurance and everything for that company. This being said if the power company can buy your extra more enviromental friendly solar energy at a cheaper rate to sell/charge people that can't afford them that have no choice but grid electric than they buy from the power plants than that would mean they would actually be making more or equal to the profit they would if you still relied on them for electric. There are more people that are on grid than there are of those with solar panels therefore all the cheaper electric they buy will actually make they're profits greater .not only are they making more money but they would not be causing controversy over citizens not using they're electric which would be against peoples freedoms and would cause violence once again over greed, solar energy is safer and better for the enviroment for it uses the earths natural light resource and turns it into energy verses how the nuclear power plants have risks of melt downs explosions exct. Causing nuclear radiation polluting the earth . Solar energy also doesnt kill animal species such as wind mills do to birds which conservationalist worry about extinctions . Therefore not only would they be helping they're greedy selves out by buying energy cheaper and selling it at the same rate , but they will be helping to clean up the enviroment that is filled with pollution today and not only that they will save themselves from making them look like a greedy selfish jerk by not causing controversy over those who choose to buy solar panels to help them selfs try and save money since the rich keep getting richer and poor poorer due to the rich company owners who are selfish like this and won't give a person a break at all . Making a big controversy over the solar panels like several on this cite I am replying to pointed out that it could cause people to rebel against power companies and find ways to make they're own energy because them trying to charge people over this is unfair and against our freedoms and then they would have little to no profit at all if this happened.If they were smart and not a selfish individual they could not only profit from it and help save the enviroment from more pollutions but it would set an example of good morals by letting there be peace instead of there being arguments and judgments being made just because they let they're greed and selfishness take over they're morals and thought procces thinkings on things like these situations and causing harm to others. Therefore the people would have greater respect and would be happy with the energy services they provide them with making them a successful buisness man as well as a leader type figure to help better the earths enviroment and having better morals than the companies that cause war over a persons freedoms and rights giving people more respect for the company. In society today the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer due to people like this that let money, greed and power corrupt them .I do also beleive that most wars today are caused over power, money, greed and religion. We will never have peace in this world unless we can become more selfless and help those who need the help , for example the rich getting richer ! This is due to them having power over companies government ext. And let all the money, power and greed make theyre dicisions for them for they are selfish and care only about themseves. I to beleive we will not comes out of the recession we are in today unless the ones with the most money put back into the economy. There is a major lack in jobs due to the richer buying factories and sending them overseas because the price to make the product goes down due to money frequencies being less in other countries than here therefore they don't have to pay workers as muvh so more profit for them...loss of jobs of millions that were already working hard struggling everyday to make ends meet for them and they're famalies ...BAM! ...all of a sudden poor are getting poorer while the ones who were already rich are getting richer .Not to mention the economy becoming more and more in debt everday because of this.If there is no money made by the citizens to put back into the economy and the economy provides welfare to those who can not find a job to to unemployment skyrocketing then the economy will eventually end up failing putting the u.s. into another depression. I beleice we will never pull out of this economic decline unless the ones who are greedy and only help themselves bite the bullet , give up a few luxuries you can live without and put for back into the economy! If I were the owner of this electric company I would not be very worried about a few solar panels people got to save money , besides what if governments decide they must provide a less pollutant sorce of energy? Might as well start investing and supporting it now. Also it would cost some thyre jons such as power plant workers but switching fully to solar would take far more job oppertunities due to the amount of work that would be required to switch over and install solar panels and jobs for years to come after that due to maintance that might be needed! Again if only whealthy people with large companies like engergy that will always be a demand ..would just think outside the box and look at the much larger picture!! Maybe one day our world will be a bit more peacefull and life would not be the struggle it is today!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Pat, Nov 30th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Power companies charging you for not using electricity.

    It's so absurd it makes me want to go out and start putting up solar panels & make a few wind turbines with a couple of the Alternators I have in the shed.

    SCUMBAGS.

    I remember about 50 years ago my mother told me about a neighbor she had when she was a kid in the 30's who had put an Crane generator on a windmill.
    He used these big spot lights that were on it.
    2 on the windmill and 2 in the barn.
    And these 2 big throw switches like in the movie Frankenstein
    Almost every night at dusk he turned on the 2 on the windmill.
    About a year went by and the electric company got wind of it.
    They thought he was stealing electricity from them at first and wanted to know where the wires were leading.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This