Is it right for utilities to imposes “usage” fees on distributed energy producers? If we were to look into a crystal ball and see the Solar power explosion that is predicted to come we’d gladly expect utilities to impose fees to maintain the grid that will be receiving unused electricity. We’d see that their customer base would be made up of commercial users, manufacturing, heavy technology, and municipalities. We’d also see medium to large multi-family developments, hi-rise apartments. Utilities will be around for a while until panels become more efficient. So is the fee fair? Will it be fair in the future? It’s definitely not fair now, but it will be. The only other option will be to go off-grid.
One scenario, utilities invest heavily in HVDC Transmission lines and power storage. It would make the future more stable and efficient for everyone, plugged in distributed energy producers too.
How so? Better transmission reduces loss during transmission, reduces the cost utilities expend and that consumers pay. This model would also create revenue by allowing utilities to store excess power and reduce demand production. It could be stored closer to demand, in the cities or at industrial complexes. Solar power pumped into the grid gets used. Power generated get stored and saved for peak demand. It should. So what’s the problem?
An outdated infrastructure. That’s what the fees are really meant to address. As I noted before, utilities are seeing less revenue, their retail (residential) base isn’t growing as strong as we think.
“It’s important to emphasize that this is all about rate design; it doesn’t result in more revenue for the company, it doesn’t result in more profit,” Eskelsen said. “It’s about designing a rate structure for the future when more customers use their power in a very different way.” Rocky Mountain Power spokesman.