Dear California Public Utilities Commission,

I have read a lot about the different net metering positions between the solar industry and the utilities. I believe there is a win/win solution to the problem.

The problem:

Currently the utilities want more for access to the grid and in some ways they have a point. Even though the utilities save some power generation costs I think the utilities are under compensated for the grid.

Also – the incentives for solar providers are such that solar systems are sized not to generate more that 100% of the home owner’s usage. If solar providers could get more compensation for excess energy they could fill the roof with panels rather than limiting them to what the customer needs.

Opportunity for both sides:

One thing no one is taking advantage of is that a solar KWH is worth more than a carbon KWH and there are people willing to pay more for clean energy than dirty energy. Excess solar generation can be tracked and a new market created for premium clean energy.

This market would create an incentive for solar companies to fill the roof and generate clean power. There is an advantage of scale in that the cost to solar companies to add extra panels per watt is less than just stopping at 100%. The cost of the sale, building permits, engineering is all the same. Just add more panels an a bigger inverter.

Additional Benefits for Both Sides

If the solar provider were to get 15 cents a KWH for excess power then they would fill the roof. Filling the roof has several advantages.

1) It helps towards the goal of California to replace carbon energy with solar energy.

2) Larger system would allow homes to generate excess power in the late afternoon instead of just the early afternoon. This will greatly reduce late afternoon peak power demands on the grid and move the solar curve to several hours later into the day when the utilities need it. So the grid gets the benefit of not having the capital expenses of meeting peak power demand costs.

3) Compensation for excess power would make it profitable for homes with low power consumption to go solar bring more solar energy online. Low income people with large roofs might even get free electricity.

4) Excess clean power can be tracked and marketed in an online energy auction allowing the demand for clean power to determine it’s price with all stakeholders benefiting.

I can provide a more detailed proposal if there is interest.

Summary

People tend to think in terms of the way things are now and not the way things will be. The grid of the future is going to be very different than the grid of the past. 50 years from now the grid is going to be powered by solar, wind, and maybe fusion. Natural Gas might fuel peaker plants. There will be battery storage built into the grid. There will also be a high voltage DC transmission system to move energy between regions. Energy production will be more local and distributed and the grid will be its own industry.

What we need to do is design policy around the grid of the future and with a vision towards creating incentives to get us from where we are to where we need to be.

Therefore the CPUC should:

1) Set the minimum compensation for excess solar power to enough to make solar providers want to fill the roof. And excess power generated at peak demand times is worth more than off peak power.

2) Allow utilities to charge a daily (not monthly) peak energy usage charge if the peak usage is during a peak demand period.

3) Allow minimum rates for grid access to increase.

4) Utility engineering surcharges should not be allowed.



  1. WmDE says:

    How about Solarpeople put in enough solar and storage for their use and stay off of the grid?

  2. Ah_Yea says:

    Love the proposal. Utilities may go for it until peak power is met, and no further.

    Your 50 year projection? Delusional. I already proved in your previous post about electric cars that there are not enough rare earth elements to power enough electric cars to make a difference, much less the entire national grid at midnight.
    So — not enough windmills, not enough solar, and fusion is a dream.

    Nuclear is the only alternative.

  3. NewFormatSux says:

    Some errors:
    The existing payout is 15 cents, so it apparently isn’t enough to get people to cover their roof.
    Why do you need DC lines from region to region if production is local and distributed?

    That said, I think your proposal would work with some tweaks. Like to see the full proposal that you submitted.

    I’m OK with higher payouts for peak production. If utilities are charging more, they should pay more. This assumes that the purchase of excess power doesn’t actually raise costs.

    Minimum rates for grid access. Don’t know the details, but this looks like the utilities just trying to get away with getting free money. The current proposal is to raise the rate for solar people only.

    Main change I would make is the higher price for solar sales. Your proposal is to charge people more for people who want solar. Start with that and raise the rates as more people sign up to buy.
    So I would lower the rate to 8c as utilities propose, but then increase it as more people sign up to pay at a higher rate for solar. The only problem is they might get upset if they are not actually buying solar power even if the money is eventually going to the purchase of solar.

  4. Tom says:

    Marc,

    I am getting so tired of reading about your solar fobiles… When did this become the Marc Perkel Blog?!

  5. DIE Creepyfornia! JUST DIE!!! says:

    If you get a response, expect something like the following:

    Dear Mr. Perkel,

    WE (your local power company) OWN the system and will do what we want — including stomping on your rights to install your silly little solar panels. So you can just go F*** yourself!

    — Signed, (Your local PUC)

    … Of course, it would be a little more politically correct than that. So don’t be too surprised especially when you remember, YOU VOTED FOR IT — if by no other reason than the fact that you continue to CHOOSE to live there!

  6. NewFormatSux says:

    Marc, have you actually written this proposal and submitted it?

  7. bobbo, we think with words, and flower with ideas says:

    Marc: best private/gubment joint action proposal I have ever read. Using the free market system to fund Green energy displacement of fossil fuel use: BRILLIANT!

    As to the rare earth issue….I just dunno. I think having ENERGY available will power lots of alternatives if batteries are not it. Again…I’ll say compress air and production of Hydrogen Gas are off the shelf alternatives waiting for development.

    I’m glad you are enthused and posting on this topic. Hope to see a two year update.

    • NewFormatSux says:

      Hydrogen gas isn’t drilled, it is produces with lots of energy. Using it for anything is a waste if you have other alternatives.


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