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posted by janrinok on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:15AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the sometimes-I-despair dept.

NewsOK reports that the Oklahoma legislature has passed a bill that allows regulated utilities to apply to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to charge a higher base rate to customers who generate solar and wind energy and send their excess power back into the grid reversing a 1977 law that forbade utilities to charge extra to solar users. "Renewable energy fed back into the grid is ultimately doing utility companies a service," says John Aziz. "Solar generates in the daytime, when demand for electricity is highest, thereby alleviating pressure during peak demand."

The state's major electric utilities backed the bill but couldn't provide figures on how much customers already using distributed generation are getting subsidized by other customers. Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma have about 1.3 million electric customers in the state. They have about 500 customers using distributed generation. Kathleen O'Shea, OG&E spokeswoman, said few distributed generation customers want to sever their ties to the grid. "If there's something wrong with their panel or it's really cloudy, they need our electricity, and it's going to be there for them," O'Shea said. "We just want to make sure they're paying their fair amount of that maintenance cost." The prospect of widespread adoption of rooftop solar worries many utilities. A report last year by the industry's research group, the Edison Electric Institute, warns of the risks posed by rooftop solar (PDF). "When customers have the opportunity to reduce their use of a product or find another provider of such service, utility earnings growth is threatened," the report said. "As this threat to growth becomes more evident, investors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector."

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Koch Brothers Attack Solar Energy 23 comments

The NYT writes in an editorial that for the last few months, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy by pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive.

The coal producers' motivation is clear: They see solar and wind energy as a long-term threat to their businesses. That might seem distant at the moment, when nearly 40 percent of the nation's electricity is still generated by coal, and when less than 1 percent of power customers have solar arrays. But given new regulations on power-plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants, and the urgent need to reduce global warming emissions, the future clearly lies with renewable energy.

For example, the Arizona Public Service Company, the state's largest utility, funneled large sums through a Koch operative to a nonprofit group that ran an ad claiming net metering would hurt older people on fixed incomes by raising electric rates. The ad tried to link the requirement to President Obama. Another Koch ad likens the renewable-energy requirement to health care reform, the ultimate insult in that world. "Like Obamacare, it's another government mandate we can't afford," the narrator says. "That line might appeal to Tea Partiers, but it's deliberately misleading," concludes the editorial. "This campaign is really about the profits of Koch Carbon and the utilities, which to its organizers is much more important than clean air and the consequences of climate change."

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  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:17AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:17AM (#34672)

    Lick my asshole you shit-eating faggots!!

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:51AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:51AM (#34688)

      Your taint quivers rhythmically as the tip of my pointed tongue dances along the annulus of your anus, with its rosy-pink convolutions formerly coated with balsamic vinegar salad dressing for my dinner and now coated with honey for my dessert.

      You see, everybody, he and I met in the library bathroom downtown back when I used to hang out on Slashdot. He had just taken a shit one day and I, though having missed him, did not miss his turd. It was, as I recall, a "sausage fit for a king," and I greedily gobbled up as much as I could and took the rest home in my briefcase.

      He was the one who got away, and so I waited patiently in the stall of that restroom peeking out the door-crack of my stall with my dick in hand, looking for he "the one." Finally, after a week and a half, he sits down in the stall next to mine. I felt my hand brushing the underside the stall wall, massaging it like you would (and did!) a goat's belly, indicating that I wanted to make that bathroom a tearoom with my stall as the bed of consummation, farting whenever he did in solidarity and interest. My patience had paid off, for he rolled under the partition, from his stall into mine, a knurled and hard-packed but grenade-shaped treat as an amuse-bouche before the main course; large and yet still reminiscent of the prize pellets my pet hamster had produced from his furry little tush when I was a kid. And they were just as tasty as chocolate Tic-Tacs(R), in fact, I put them in a Tic-Tac(R) box and dispensed them to my friends, who told me they taste like Indian clay.

      I could tell from the density and hardness of it that he was working out a lot more. Those prize nuggets were as chewy as Tootsie Rolls(R) in some spots, Jack Links(R) in others. A rich, meaty taste for sure, like veal.

      My name is, in fact, Billy Rubins. My parents were two German organic chemists who named me after the chemical bilirubin. [wikipedia.org] Now here is a scientific fact about bilirubin: Shit doesn't turn brown until the air hits it, and that color-transformation is a direct result of bilirubin. So why did my parents name me after Biliruben? Because they both have brown hair, and the often told me as a kid they always knew that my hair would be colored "shit-brown."

      They were correct.

      • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by edIII on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:14AM

        by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:14AM (#34693)

        As offtopic as this is, in its own way is quite brilliantly executed. It thoroughly convinced me that a universe existed where only anus and chocolate dick existed, and feces were represented as if they were the Higgs Boson.

        The revelation that he was German was rather cliche, but I found the segueway to the chemistry lesson to be jarring and provocative.

        I've seen better trolls, but not many.

        --
        Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
        • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by Ethanol-fueled on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:36AM

          by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:36AM (#34699) Homepage

          I disagree. That guy's a fucking sicko and a racist.

          • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:03AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:03AM (#34706)

            So just like yourself.

  • (Score: 1) by Turbidity on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:25AM

    by Turbidity (4203) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:25AM (#34674)

    A bit depressing to see established interests sell out our future to preserve their business model.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:41AM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:41AM (#34700) Journal

      Well, hold on there...

      The people using solar power don't have to pay any money to the Power companies. They can just decline to hook up to the grid.

      But the do hook up to the grid, because they want backup when there solar fails to supply the same 5 9s of service they expect from the grid.

      So the power company has to run lines to their house, purchase and install regulation and isolation equipment to make sure the solar power these customers are feeding back onto the lines can be controlled and is properly conditioned (proper voltage, proper phasing, ability to remotely disconnect, etc). You can't be calling up 150 customers to have them take their solar off the system so you can de-energize a transmission line for maintenance of safety, only to get a lineman killed when some farmer decides he can reconnect any damn time he pleases.

      So there are real physical infrastructure costs to hooking up a solar contributor, and that equipment has to be maintained.

      But because this customer uses so little power from the utility, the costs the power company would normally recover in a year might take 5 or 10 years to recover.

      In the mean time, the existing law requires the power company to pay these solar contributors at the avoidance rate. (The avoidance rate is the highest price the utility pays for ANY power source.)

      So having these solar contributors on their grid is a double whammy. Much Higher infrastructure costs, and a requirement to buy their power at the highest cost.

      Even if you have cheap hydro power sufficient to prevent ever having to fire up the coal plant, you have to pay coal plant rates to these micro providers preferentially.

      Wanting to recover their costs within the normal amortization period is not evil, its simple economics.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:47AM

        by Tork (3914) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:47AM (#34716)
        That would be a good point.... IF the solar customers were leeches.
        --
        Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:44PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:44PM (#35133) Journal

          But in a sense, they are.

          Its kind of like you demanding a company car, but then doing MOST of your business travel in your own car, and billing the company for miles traveled.

          The company still ends up footing the bill to provide you with a car, AND pay you miles. That is a lot of fixed cost, depreciating, while yielding no revenue to the company.

          Its the exact same thing for solar contributors.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by Tork on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:05PM

            by Tork (3914) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:05PM (#35143)
            The solar customers are putting power back into the grid. They are, in effect, making service more reliable for the rest of their customers. Though true they are getting some compensation for it, they are also paying to keep the solar side of the stuff on their property maintained in order to keep their end of it reliable.

            To correct your metaphor: Your company issues you a car, they cover its maintenance yadda yadda yadda. It sits idle longer in your garage than the cars of your colleagues because you use your own, but the company is still paying the same amount of money to keep it maintained. When one of the cars of your coworkers needs to be taken out of the pool to be repaired, YOUR car is then provided. Yes, they're paying to keep your company car maintained, but everybody is still getting to work on time every day, which is also of value to the company. That has to be measured as well, otherwise fixing this perceived monetary loss could have unintended consequences.

            This is not a leeching situation and treating solar customers as such will not go over well for very rational reasons.
            --
            Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
            • (Score: 1) by urza9814 on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:43PM

              by urza9814 (3954) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:43PM (#35157) Journal

              All of this ignores the fact that, at least everywhere in the US I've lived, transmission costs and generation costs are billed separately. And transmission costs is usually a fixed monthly rate.

              I'm pretty sure that's by federal law too -- as part of a program to allow you to purchase the energy itself from alternative suppliers.

              So...what the hell? Are these costs not broken up in OK? Why not? Why should they bill more per kilowatt hour to make up for largely fixed costs? Why should someone who gets 10% of their electricity from solar have to pay more for maintenance of those lines than someone who gets 90% from solar?

            • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday April 23 2014, @10:01PM

              by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @10:01PM (#35160) Journal

              My analogy is more accurate than yours.

              The power company can not uproot its poles and lines that lead to your property, nor can they unmount their transformers, meters and control cut offs to move them to some other location to handle some repairs at other sites.

              These are sunk costs, from which they will earn very little revenue, very slowly. In fact, the majority of the use of these poles and wires will COST them money, in payments to the solar user at ridiculous rates for very unreliable power.

              --
              No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
              • (Score: 2) by Tork on Wednesday April 23 2014, @11:03PM

                by Tork (3914) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @11:03PM (#35221)
                "My analogy is more accurate than yours."

                It is not. The equipment is still in use in order to receive the power from solar.

                "In fact, the majority of the use of these poles and wires will COST them money, in payments to the solar user at ridiculous rates for very unreliable power."

                That is not a problem created by the solar customers.
                --
                Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by evilviper on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:49AM

        by evilviper (1760) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:49AM (#34717) Homepage Journal

        You can't be calling up 150 customers to have them take their solar off the system so you can de-energize a transmission line for maintenance of safety, only to get a lineman killed when some farmer decides he can reconnect any damn time he pleases.

        Grid-tie systems are specifically designed to NOT do this. On the rare chance you end up with a horribly defective one along the line, just short the power line to ground, and send a huge fine (and possibly a disconnect notice) to the house that starts smoking...

        Much Higher infrastructure costs

        No such thing. All the extra equipment is purchased by the homeowner. The power company doesn't have to install any special equipment.

        and a requirement to buy their power at the highest cost.

        Not "the highest" but just the same rate they charge for it... and only until their bill gets down to zero, then it's FREE electricity for the power company.

        Wanting to recover their costs within the normal amortization period is not evil, its simple economics.

        They can either:
        1) Charge EVERYBODY a "connection fee" that is more in-line with base operating costs, and lower power rates to compensate, rather than hiding the cost in crazy billing, and introducing extra fees for special people.

        OR

        2) Raise everybody's electric rates slightly, and use that to continue to subsidize the connection costs for homeowners with solar installations.

        A special (flat) fee is completely inequitable...

        --
        Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
        • (Score: 1) by compro01 on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:30PM

          by compro01 (2515) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:30PM (#34901)

          Not "the highest" but just the same rate they charge for it... and only until their bill gets down to zero, then it's FREE electricity for the power company.

          1. Which is basically the highest rate. Power companies generally don't bother building generation runs at a loss.

          2. What company does net metering like that? Around here, if you have a net negative power usage for the month, it gets applied as a credit to your account. The general idea is that you build up a positive balance during your source's good months (e.g. March to October for solar) and then operate off that during bad months.

          • (Score: 2) by sjames on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:18PM

            by sjames (2882) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:18PM (#34974) Journal

            There are many areas where negative balances are zeroed month to month.

          • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Thursday April 24 2014, @06:11AM

            by evilviper (1760) on Thursday April 24 2014, @06:11AM (#35370) Homepage Journal

            1. Which is basically the highest rate. Power companies generally don't bother building generation runs at a loss.

            No, it isn't. It's an average rate. If you actually had to pay the actual power rates for (e.g.) peaking plants, it would be astronomically high. Your power rates are absolutely LOWER than some of the power sources your utility draws from. They average out the prices between all the power sources, then add a profit margin, and that's your rate. It's not the lowest, and certainly not the highest.

            2. What company does net metering like that?

            Many of them do. In fact I believe the majority do so.

            --
            Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:40PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:40PM (#35130) Journal

          Grid Tie systems are only used by the to feed power back to the utility when you have excess solar.
          They really don't protect the utility at all, and any responsible utility demands remote control of the shut off.

          Fining someone after the fact does not revive a dead lineman.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Thursday April 24 2014, @08:24AM

            by evilviper (1760) on Thursday April 24 2014, @08:24AM (#35404) Homepage Journal

            Grid Tie systems are only used by the to feed power back to the utility when you have excess solar.
            They really don't protect the utility at all

            Do you usually pretend to be an expert and spout-off on subjects you know nothing about? Especially "correcting" statements of those who actually know what they're talking about?

            Grid-tie inverters are also designed to quickly disconnect from the grid if the utility grid goes down. This is an NEC requirement[2] that ensures that in the event of a blackout, the grid tie inverter will shut down to prevent the energy it transfers from harming any line workers who are sent to fix the power grid.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid-tie_inverter [wikipedia.org]

            --
            Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Dunbal on Wednesday April 23 2014, @12:58PM

        by Dunbal (3515) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @12:58PM (#34850)

        " They can just decline to hook up to the grid."

        Yeah, look at what's happening to people who decide to go completely "off grid". Municipalities are going after them for things like trash collection or sewage fees. I'm sure when enough people have solar panels (not going to happen soon though if they keep thinking up new fees) lots of creative excuses will be invented to extract more money. At the end of the day, you see, it's all about the money. The "environment" is just a pretext. Better to charge you for your water and order you to ration than say, stop handing out new zoning permits. It's exactly the same racket that ISPs are involved in - trying to make finite capacity stretch as far as possible and charging an arm and a leg to everyone. Only the consequences here are when the power grid collapses, or the water supply collapses - catastrophic. I wonder what they'll do with their piles of cash when the city is on fire due to rioting.

        • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:18PM

          by Rivenaleem (3400) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:18PM (#34939)

          Here in Ireland we have a TV license. When more and more people cut the cord in favor of internet services, Netflix and the like, they change the law to make the TV license include any device "capable of receiving TV signal" which includes computers, as they could potentially receive online TV.

          And Ireland still gets different Netflix listing to the US, as RTE (Irish primary TV broadcaster) clearly doesn't want shows available online before they can be bothered showing them (often a year later than the US) locally.

          So yes, these guys are only interested in protecting their own income, and not about customers or the environment.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:53PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:53PM (#35138) Journal

          When I said Off the Grid, I meant the electrical grid.

          I had no intention of triggering a rant about hermits living in the woods dumping garbage in everyone else's garbage cans and leaching raw sewage into the ground water.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Thexalon on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:31AM

    by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:31AM (#34678)

    The markets say that people want solar panels on their roof. I'm sorry the power companies are unhappy about the fact that people are using less of their product, but if solar is cheaper and better shouldn't coal generation capacity and the like go the way of the buggy whip market?

    --
    The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by c0lo on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:06AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:06AM (#34691) Journal

      Almost true. But... the problem here is not who and how generates the energy, but who pays the cost of network maintenance (assume that everybody will be generating some energy by whatever means; due to local differences between needs and generation, someone will still need to move this energy around).
      For a long time, the two costs (energy and network maintenance) were amalgamated into one: it worked because the producers were a few, thus the cost of their "network segment connecting them to the grid" could be easily known). Now, you suddenly you have thousands of suppliers, some of them in double role (supplier and consumer): the situation is too complex.

      But, to my mind, the answer is not persisting into this amalgamation and attempting contorted solutions out to derive "a fair pay"; instead, to keep the situation as close as possible to the "free market", charge everybody a fee for "service to property" and deal with the price/cost/amount of energy as a separate item.

      1. You don't like the price for "grid connection service"? Disconnect from the grid and buffer your energy somehow.

      2. You can't afford the upfront investment to go off-grid? Tough... don't go off-grid, be a fair player and pay the price for network maintenance: the "market" still provide a solution for your needs for a price.

      But, no matter which alternative you choose, the cost/price of energy now becomes independent of the "network maintenance" service

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 2) by edIII on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:19AM

        by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:19AM (#34694)

        GET OUT.

        This makes far too much sense, represents both sides fairly, and attempts to implement a solution that may be too effective for government.

        As a representative of the pitch fork and torches industry I order you to cease and desist or we will be forced to defend ourselves against your attack on the core American values of the free market and the common worker everywhere who as at risk from your radicalism.

        --
        Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:32AM

          by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:32AM (#34697) Journal

          As a representative of the pitch fork and torches industry

          As a representative of pitch fork and torches industry:

          1. you should not worry too much about dropping demand; by their very nature, the government [despair.com] is bound to find new creative ways of keeping you in business, their very existence is tuned to do just that; otherwise, who would need them?
          2. do you realize you just threaten a potential customer prepared to buy some of your products to help pushing some sense into their heads? (a type of reaction one would rather expect from a govt representative than from an industry representative)
          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
          • (Score: 2) by edIII on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:23AM

            by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:23AM (#34710)

            Frank? Strap Larry onto the lawyerpult.....

            --
            Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
            • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday April 23 2014, @05:23AM

              by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @05:23AM (#34720) Journal
              Doh... see where complacency brought to the industry you represent? The world leaped quite a lot from that 2006 low tech era [dilbert.com] - can you imagine what a squad of these guys [sbnation.com] armed with pitchforks and torches could do?.
              --
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday April 23 2014, @12:11PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @12:11PM (#34817)

        "who pays the cost of network maintenance"

        Someone should pick up their bill and take a look. Where I live, the customers pay separately for network and power.

        It is of course different everywhere. It is theoretically possible that in OK people pay a flat $ per KWH and no connection fee. Sucks to be them, I guess.

        I pulled my most recent bill, and pro-rated per days in a billing period, I pay exactly precisely 30 cents per day for the privilege of connection to the grid. So a 29 calendar day billing period listed as $8.70 for network fee.

        For what its worth, natgas is more expensive at 31 cents per day for connection. During the summer, with my on demand tankless heater and no furnace use, the majority of my bill for natgas is connection fee.

        30 cents per day doesn't sound like much, but if you figure outside plant needs some kind of maint activity every decade, which is horribly pessimistic even in this rainy windy climate, that multiplies out to well over a kilobuck per customer per maintenance / upgrade event. Yes I'm sure a big lightning/wind storm could be very expensive, but damage from them is also incredibly rare.

        One interesting side effect of separation of network and power is I get to select my power source. I chose a 100% wind/solar provider. It doesn't cost very much at all more than the cost of the coal provider (used to be like 75% more, now its like 10% more, soon, trends indicate it'll be cheaper than selecting the coal provider...). I am pretty pissed off I can't select a 100% nuclear provider at 2 cents/KWH or whatever it is, but they just don't offer it. Probably just greenwashing BS anyway, but supposedly in the annual report, they pool the total KWH purchased wind/solar and then on an annual basis make sure they buy that much wind/solar from those providers (so on long term average I don't burn coal, but at any instant, especially a windless night, I do burn coal)

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by c0lo on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:42AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:42AM (#34684) Journal

    "We just want to make sure they're paying their fair amount of that maintenance cost."

    Now, if the problem is strictly maintenance cost, then wouldn't it be fairer to itemize for all consumers the delivered energy and network maintenance as two separate entries? Me thinks it will be easier for the energy provider/retailer to figure out the costs.
    Consume or not, if you have a live powerline to your property, you pay for its maintenance. Push energy back, you'll be paid for the energy but you will have to pay for the line/network maintenance.

    It certainly is so in other parts of this world [vic.gov.au] (look on page 2 and you'll see "Service to property charges" itemized separately).

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 1) by Turbidity on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:49AM

      by Turbidity (4203) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:49AM (#34687)

      Exactly - this is the way to do it if your goal was not to discourage solar adoption. The fact is that utilities need to adapt to become backbone infrastructure providers and power brokers.

    • (Score: 1) by fnj on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:00AM

      by fnj (1654) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:00AM (#34690)

      They already do that where I am in the US. I'd be suprised if they don't already do that everywhere in the US. So it looks like the Oklahome legislature is an ass.

    • (Score: 1) by dak664 on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:22PM

      by dak664 (2433) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @02:22PM (#34894)

      The flip side of recovering maintenance cost from kWh usage is that consumers with higher-than-average use are paying *too much* for the infrastructure. Charging realistic amounts for each separately could benefit them as much or more as the PV producers.

      Power companies used to apply an "energy conservation discount" to high kWh users, probably rebating some of the excess maintenance charge along with the desirable (20 years ago) effect of encouraging consumption. Don't think they could get by with that now, but apparently today's big users are perfectly happy to pay more then their fair share.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:43AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:43AM (#34703)
    • (Score: 1) by BasilBrush on Wednesday April 23 2014, @06:13PM

      by BasilBrush (3994) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @06:13PM (#35050)

      It would be a far better world if the Koch brothers and the Murdochs weren't in it.

      --
      Hurrah! Quoting works now!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @10:21PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @10:21PM (#35174)

        Throw Soros into that same pot, Mr Kettle.

  • (Score: 2) by Tork on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:42AM

    by Tork (3914) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @04:42AM (#34714)
    Ummm... if there's less demand on the grid, don't maintenance costs go DOWN?
    --
    Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Rickter on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:55AM

      by Rickter (842) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @09:55AM (#34771)

      Energy cost would go down, but maintenance means the costs of replacing fallen lines, broken poles, and other repairs to keep every house connected to the power grid. The two things are really separate costs, one to pay for the line men who drive around maintaining the lines, and the other pays for the power plant, and employees and fuel that are at the plant.

      • (Score: 2) by ngarrang on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:01PM

        by ngarrang (896) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:01PM (#34926) Journal

        ^This.

        This is the same problem in attitude with Electric Vehicle owners who think they don't need to pay road taxes. They still drive their cars on the road and incur maintenance. Fuel Taxes pay for road maintenance. Thus, the same for Local Generators, as I will call them. If you want to be free of the Utility fees, then disconnect completely from the utilities. Otherwise, your status as a Local Generator along with others causes harm to the entire balance of spreading the risk and costs of the network.

        I still have a land-line phone. Part of my bill is a fee to the Universal Service Fund, which guarantees that everyone has access to POTS. I am okay with this, because it insures that Nowheresville (population 5) still has phone service.

        The cost of access and maintenance to these essential services MUST be shared in an equitable manner.

      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Wednesday April 23 2014, @05:09PM

        by Tork (3914) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @05:09PM (#35004)
        Okay. But the solar customers are also providing a service back to the electric company, and they're maintaining their own equipment to do just that. It's not like they're leeches!
        --
        Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mendax on Wednesday April 23 2014, @05:29AM

    by mendax (2840) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @05:29AM (#34721)

    As I recall, several years ago when solar panels started to be mounted on houses in California, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) complained about the fact that when when someone's electric meter ran backward, they were forced to pay to the subscriber exactly what they changed for a kilowatt hour. This rate includes the cost of the power, the cost of the power grid that PG&E maintains, and a percentage for their profit. What they wanted to pay was solely what the power is worth. That substantial discount would then pay for the fact that the subscriber is, after all, using their system to redistribute their excess power from their panels. From what I can see, this attitude makes sense. The fact that it makes having solar panels on top of your house that generate far more power than you can use less cost effective is a side-issue, or so they thought anyway.

    The fact of the matter is that the power companies own the power grid. If you're going to be pushing power on that grid, you ought to be paying for that privilege. And that seems to be the real basis of that Oklahoma law.

    However, the fact that this law was crafted in Oklahoma only reinforces my view that this state is populated by morons.

    --
    It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @11:07AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23 2014, @11:07AM (#34791)

      Not going to disagree with most of what you said - except for the having to pay to push power onto the grid. If the power companies are going to be selling the energy that gets pushed onto the grid, why should they make a profit from me supplying it as well? Especially as most areas (I believe) charge a premium for energy from a renewable for the customers that want to pay for it.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:25PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @03:25PM (#34942)

      Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) complained about the fact that when when someone's electric meter ran backward, they were forced to pay to the subscriber exactly what they changed for a kilowatt hour. This rate includes the cost of the power, the cost of the power grid that PG&E maintains, and a percentage for their profit. What they wanted to pay was solely what the power is worth. That substantial discount would then pay for the fact that the subscriber is, after all, using their system to redistribute their excess power from their panels. From what I can see, this attitude makes sense.

      No, it doesn't make sense. The power company should be forced to pay them at whatever rate they charge, per kWh, period.

      If the power company doesn't like that, too bad. It's their own stupid fault for rolling everything into a per-kWh price. If they want to pay people the actual cost of the power itself, then they need to bill the power separately from the connection cost, for all customers.

      If they can't be bothered to change their pricing structure, then solar-generating customers shouldn't be bothered with getting a lower price for their generated power.

      • (Score: 2) by mendax on Wednesday April 23 2014, @06:29PM

        by mendax (2840) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @06:29PM (#35063)

        Well, let me put it another way. Someone has to pay for the construction and maintenance of the power grid. Are you saying that you should pay for the use of this grid when you draw power from it but not pay for its use when you push power into it? In other words, you are advocating the profiting from the use of a privately held resource without paying for access to it. How can that possibly be fair to the power companies? After all, they have to at least break even, and in the case of PG&E, being a regulated utility and a for-profit corporation, make a minimal profit.

        --
        It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
        • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:02PM

          by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @08:02PM (#35107)

          Yes, that's exactly what I'm advocating. If these companies are too stupid to charge separately for a connection to the grid and the usage of power from the grid, then they should be required to subsidize all solar producers.

          If they don't like it, they can change their billing. I've proposed a simple solution to the problem (actually, I just copied it from one of the other SN posters somewhere else in this discussion), so if they don't want a simple solution, then they shouldn't get a solution at all, they should just be forced to allow solar producers to profit off their grid.

          • (Score: 2) by mendax on Wednesday April 23 2014, @10:43PM

            by mendax (2840) on Wednesday April 23 2014, @10:43PM (#35201)

            Okay, I get you. But is not the Oklahoma solution not a simple solution to that problem, just not an ideally fair one?

            --
            It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
            • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday April 24 2014, @03:13PM

              by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday April 24 2014, @03:13PM (#35588)

              That's why I oppose the OK solution: it's not fair. If the power companies billed connections and power separately, that would be entirely fair. The OK solution is just a crappy patch because they don't want to change their billing practices.