ALEC, climate change: A fight over rooftop solar panels could decide America’s energy future.

“ALEC and its allies are currently lobbying state lawmakers and regulatory commissioners to rewrite industry rules regarding solar panels. The apparent goal: to ensure that customers with rooftop panels pay more each month and to make would-be adopters think twice about paying the upfront cost of installation. ALEC’s anti-solar attacks have drawn friendly fire from self-identified Tea Party groups who see the effort as anything but free-market friendly. Groups like Barry Goldwater Jr.’s TUSK America say that a user fee is just a new tax aimed at limiting consumer choice—exactly the type of argument you’d normally hear from a conservative firm like ALEC. Liberals and other solar proponents, meanwhile, see the push as the latest example of utilities and fossil fuel producers doing whatever it takes to protect their bottom lines. And no matter what side you’re on, it’s clearly counterproductive to make solar energy less attractive given the prevalence of big-dollar federal and state initiatives currently aimed at making the cost of solar competitive with that of fossil fuels.”

Push To Impose Extra Fees On Solar Customers Draws Outrage In Wisconsin | ThinkProgress

” A recent move by Wisconsin utility We Energies to not only raise electricity rates on all consumers but also to add an additional charge on those who produce their own energy and sell it back to the grid has sparked outrage within the state and beyond. The plan would raise the “fixed charge” on all customers’ electric bills from $9 to $16 a month, as well as reduce net metering — a policy that enables customers with solar panels or other forms of distributed generation to sell their excess electricity back to the grid — and add a new charge on these electricity-generating customers.

The result of such a policy, said Matt Neumann, owner of Wisconsin-based SunVest, would be dramatic: “It would not only end solar but remove the economic viability for any renewable energy in Wisconsin.” Neuman, whose company is the largest solar installer in the state, said the demand charge of $3.80 per kilowatt (kW) per month works out to about $220 per year for a 5 kW system, a deterrent for potential solar customers and an unfair penalty for those who have already chosen to go solar.”

WE Energies – Path to Renewable Energy Fairness


Utilities foresee the future.

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.