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A pitched battle is raging on California rooftops. On one side are the state’s major electric utilities — San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and Pacific Gas & Electric. They have intimate friends on Wall Street and in Washington D.C., armies of lobbyists, and piles of cash to shovel at state politicians. The head of the California Public Utilities Commission is a former executive of Southern California Edison, as is the chairman of the assembly’s Committee on Utilities and Commerce.

Widespread rooftop solar installations frighten big utility companies whose business model relies on centralized generating plants.

On the other side of this war is inevitability — economic and scientific: rooftop solar power (along with other renewable energy sources, such as wind and hydro) will someday triumph.

To protect their profits and business model, and to keep their stock prices rising, utilities “are attempting to hold back a tsunami,” says Bill Powers of San Diego’s Powers Engineering. “Solar is coming. We have to transition from an insecure power supply — nuclear — and also from fossil fuel plants because of climate and greenhouse gas implications.”

Engineer Bill Powers says utilities “are attempting to hold back a tsunami.”

Now, utilities depend on centralized facilities — particularly those using fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, or nuclear power. Reformers say these companies must go to a new model of “distributed,” or decentralized, generation — particularly rooftop solar. Because electric power plants account for 40 percent of carbon emissions, the Obama administration intends to tighten regulations on the plants.

“We are at a pivotal crossroads, where utilities have to look at a different business model that focuses more on distributed, small-scale resources, such as rooftop solar,” says Nicole Capretz of National City’s Environmental Health Coalition.

“Utilities have to look at a different business model,” says Nicole Capretz.

But the old business model is very profitable. Today, utilities make those profits by estimating how much they will have to spend on power plants, transmission lines, and the like; deciding how much they can get away with charging customers; and then going to the California Public Utilities Commission, claiming they need a certain rate of return to do their job. They usually get most of what they want. The more infrastructure they build, the fatter their profits. And that infrastructure generally worsens the environment.

Consider San Diego Gas & Electric. In late March, an administrative law judge of the California Public Utilities Commission decided that the utility deserved a fat rate hike — $6.55 a month for the typical electric consumer using 500 kilowatts per month. The commission will make the final decision. Consistently through the years, San Diego Gas has had the highest electric rates in the nation. The stock of its parent, Sempra Energy, has soared at double the rate of the overall market for a decade. But greed trumps the safety of future generations.

Fortunately, controversies about greenhouse gases and staggeringly high utility rates, among many things, have brought rooftop solar to the forefront, particularly in a metro area such as San Diego, which has abundant sunshine.

The utilities keep fighting. A study by the Edison Electric Institute, a trade association for the industry, complained of “disruptive challenges” such as distributed energy resources. Indeed, the institute, as well as utility executives, have wailed that the industry will be in a “death spiral” if rooftop solar takes hold significantly. Death spiral? Solar accounts for 2.5 to 3 percent of California’s electricity usage; California is the number-one solar state, although it’s only sixth on a per capita basis. Los Angeles County leads the state in rooftop generation and San Diego is second.

California has a net metering arrangement. At night, when you are drawing power, your utility bill rises. During the day, if the sun is shining and you have rooftop solar, the meter goes backward as you provide power to the grid. So that energy you provide is deducted from your bill.

Utilities complain that net metering costs them more than $1 billion a year and that it is unfair to customers who don’t have solar and have to subsidize those who do. “Utilities claiming they are looking out for ratepayers is like Bernie Madoff masquerading as the tooth fairy,” cracks Bryan Miller, vice president of public policy and power markets at San Francisco–based Sunrun Inc., a major residential solar provider.

Miller points to a study (admittedly financed by the solar industry) showing that net metering will soon deliver $92 million in annual benefits to all ratepayers. “Utilities don’t like rooftop solar purely because it eats into their profits,” says Miller. “[San Diego Gas & Electric] is only okay with solar when they own and profit from it.” By September, the California Public Utilities Commission is expected to come out with its study on the efficacy of the net metering system.

Under state regulations, on a hot summer afternoon no more than 5 percent of the electricity need can be met with customer-owned solar systems. Because of a recent encouraging change, the effective cap is now almost double 5 percent, says Powers. It’s not clear how the cap would be enforced, but that is a long way away, he says.

Now that San Onofre has closed, San Diego Gas & Electric claims there is a need for an old-style gas-powered plant in Otay Mesa, which was thumbed down by the commission in March. Balderdash, says Powers. There is power aplenty. “Due to the lack of effective regulatory oversight, giving the utilities everything they wanted for the last decade, we have overbuilt our supply generation and our transmission network,” he says. The utilities just want to boost profits.

Powers believes that in time, homes will go off the grid in large numbers. Indeed, he is in the process of doing that with his own home. He has eight batteries and needs eight more and a generator. Now, it will be slightly more expensive than using the conventional source, but with utility rates rising and solar costs declining, he can foresee a convergence — with some homeowners also maintaining their electric cars at home.

There are hopeful signs. Last year, San Diego Gas & Electric wanted to charge solar users substantially more for their connection to the distribution grid. The commission nixed the idea. On June 10, commissioner Carla Peterman proposed that the regulator begin a proceeding into whether utilities should adopt energy storage systems. This would enhance rooftop solar.

“The genie is out of the bottle, and it is not getting back in,” says Powers. “Yet utilities myopically forge ahead, insisting on obsolete investments.”

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Comments

Anon92107 July 3, 2013 @ 1:20 p.m.

The SONGS threat against public safety due to gross criminal negligence by the CPUC and utilities should have been the tipping point that motivated Brown and the legislature to order the CPUC to mandate the use of nonCO2 producing energy sources to replace SONGS immediately.

As of now, with no such action being taken, Brown and the legislature are just as great a threat to public safety and quality of life for our newest and future generations from out of control climate changes we are experiencing today as the CPUC and utilities.

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 2:26 p.m.

Anon92107: It would be positive if clean energy could replace San Onofre power IMMEDIATELY. But it's not going to happen quickly. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 July 4, 2013 @ 3:39 a.m.

Don, at least the latest generation of Internet users have it within their power to use the latest communications technology to protect their own future. That has never been possible before in history.

It is truly up to them to force action by our politicians to save the long term future of human race and the planet at last.

We no longer have to wait for the next election to demand a change in representatives who may, or more often may not, make the right things happen.

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Don Bauder July 4, 2013 @ 9:48 a.m.

Anon92107: An example of the power of the Internet: bumbling City Attorney Goldsmith decided to prosecute a protester writing anti-bank slogans in washable chalk. The city attorney noted that the chalker had done economic damage to poor Bank of America. Anybody with half a brain would not have prosecuted this case. Dorian Hargrove's excellent Reader stories went all over the Internet -- on Huffington Post, Daily Kos, etc. That was a powerful example of how fast word moves over the Internet. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 4:22 p.m.

Bye Bye Nuclear & Hello Solar

We call upon SCE and SDG&E to request that the CPUC authorize them to repay residential and commercial solar generation at the exact same rate that the Utilities pay themselves for the same energy they generate at the time the energy is being generated.

This Level Energy Tabulation System (LETS) will insure that ratepayers not just shareholders are treated fairly and it will also encourage as many as possible to install rooftop new solar due to the reduced payback period because of the higher Energy payments for non-Utility energy being added to the grid, which we all pay for as a separate charge!

The CPUC should also immediately double the financial limitations currently in place in order to qualification to get energy Upgrades, so that even more low income ratepayers can take advantage of the millions of dollars already collected and are now just sitting unused in an CPUC Energy Upgrade account; further the CPUC must insure that the previous high costs of administration of this energy up grade program is reduced to 10 to 15% of the actual amounts of the energy upgrades installed instead of the current 50% costs which are no longer acceptable. By helping all ratepayers secure access to safe and reliable lower cost energy by producing it themselves, the CPUC can fulfill its stated Mission:

The California Public Utilities Commission serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy. We regulate utility services, stimulate innovation, and promote competitive markets, where possible, in the communications, energy, transportation, and water industries.

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 4:33 p.m.

CaptD: Yes, hello solar, but not the kind the utilities prefer. They want to put massive rows of solar panels in the desert and import the power. This permits the utilities to rack up fat profits -- the kind they rake in when they build a gas- or coal-fired plant. What we need is ROOFTOP solar and we must not let the utilities arrange things so they make fat profits from rooftop solar. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 4:23 p.m.

Better batteries will make the World a safer place!

Energy Expert Predicts Solar Could Upend Major Utility in California on Price http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2013/05/energy-expert-predicts-solar-could-upend-major-utility-in-california-on-price

With superior storage, Solar (of all flavors) would help stamp out the big Utilities that are holding us in Energy Slavery !

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 4:34 p.m.

CaptD: True. Storage is the answer. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 4:25 p.m.

Many more Californians would install Solar if the Utility paid US for the energy we put INTO the grid, at the very same rate that the Utility charges when folks take the Energy OUT of the Grid!

By not paying US the same amount, the Utility shareholders receive additional money they do not deserve and the folks that have paid to install their own solar end up with a much longer payback period!

STOP the CA Utility RIPOFF of SOLAR ENERGY!

http://is.gd/eQog1d

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 4:37 p.m.

CapD: I think the utilities deserve some profit from rooftop solar -- after all, the utilities have an investment in transmission lines and the like. But the utilities must not be allowed to charge so much that rooftop solar is not economical for consumers. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 4:28 p.m.

Solar (of all flavors) can save mankind from itself

If the MAJOR countries of the World accepted the fact that unless we all work together we will continue to spiral toward chaos preceded by ever expanding conflict, because of Earth's dwindling resources and ever increasing population.

Our World Leaders should join together to Champion Solar from Space and then lead the World toward a safe new future; these books explain how:

The High Frontier by Gerard K. O'Neill, Colonies In Space by A. Heppenheim The Third Industrial Revolution by G. Harry Stine The Space Enterprise by Philip Robert Harris Mining the Sky by John S. Lewis

or perhaps what we really need some all powerful alien to visit Earth* (like in this great movie) and make US...

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 4:40 p.m.

CaptD: You are stating what OUGHT to happen. World leaders should get behind rooftop solar. But remember, right now, the utilities have all the money and the political clout. But I maintain that in time, rooftop solar will triumph over money. I seldom state that ANYTHING can beat lobbyist money, but in this case I believe it will. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 4:28 p.m.

A Most Important Article about why Solar is such a threat to all US Utilities and especially SCE. I think of it as a Fiscal/Energy War for market share: Disruptive Challenges:

Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business http://www.eei.org/ourissues/finance/Documents/disruptivechallenges.pdf

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 4:41 p.m.

CaptD: You are providing us with some interesting reading. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 5:08 p.m.

Hopefully, I am not adding too much...

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 6:56 p.m.

CaptD: Let's see how people respond. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 4:29 p.m.

The Future of Nuclear and fossil fuels: Only for Back-up for renewables http://wp.me/p26pKF-2Ff snip The two largest electricity utilities in Germany – E.ON and RWE – have declared they will build no more fossil fuel generation plants because they are not needed, challenging a widespread belief that the phasing out of nuclear in Europe’s most industrialized economy will require more coal-fired generation to be built.

Both E.ON and RWE say the rapid expansion of renewable energy, particularly solar but also wind, would make up for the loss of capacity from nuclear. “We won’t be building any more gas and coal power generation plants in western Europe, because the market does not need them,” a spokesman for E.ON told reporters at a briefing at the group’s headquarters on Friday. RWE made a similar statement a week earlier. A third major operator, Vattenfall, agreed that the market in Western Europe is oversupplied but said some limited capacity may be needed in the southern part of Germany.

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 4:43 p.m.

CaptD: Western Europe leads the way. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 4:29 p.m.

Wind and solar power are leaving nuclear in the dust: http://is.gd/CfpiUJ and Solar Power Could Produce >50% of Global Electricity: http://is.gd/PU3k2y and Estimating US Gov't, Subsidies http://is.gd/hwnsic and SOLAR Power Year in Review 2011: http://is.gd/8dlYIx

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 6:58 p.m.

CaptD: It may be more important to leave coal- and gas-fired plants left in the dust than nuclear plants. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 4:30 p.m.

How to increase Solar usage nation wide in the shortest amount of time: What is holding America Back? http://www.grist.org/solar-power/2011-08-08-clever-accounting-lets-utilities-cash-in-when-you-go-solar

The Utilities want to maximize the profits for the shareholders and so they donate to Candidates to get them to support traditional Energy Production, which does not include anything but a token amount of Solar... We are being "forced" to accept their Energy "mix", instead of using our own and being fairly paid for the Energy we produce and push INTO the grid!!

When The Energy Utilities pay each of us for the energy we put into the grid, at the same rate that the Utility charges for that same energy someone else uses at that exact time, then you will see Solar being installed Nation wide!

Because Solar is generated during the daytime, it is the most valuable since the Utilities charge the most for daytime usage (where they have SMART metering)! Everyone pays an additional amount to support the infrastructure (The Grid) so that when the Energy Utilities begin to pay the same as what they charge (no pun intended), then it will make adding Solar panels a no brainer, since the payback period will be much shorter. Another benefit for all of us is that during a power outage, all the small solar panel producers can help to keep power flowing which will be a huge benefit during such times as hurricane, tornadoes and flooding!

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 7 p.m.

CaptD: It isn't simply that utilities buy off politicians. What about the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)? Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 4:32 p.m.

☢ Industry Trying To Retain Market Share, But At What Cost to US - First posted Jun 14, 2013:

Get ready for ever more Nuclear Baloney* that in essence says the San Onofre was a fluke but all the rest of the nuclear industry is just peachy!

Big Utilities have big PR budgets so they are now trying to sway ratepayers back toward risky nuclear using a number of talking points like:

√ Nobody has been killed (yet) by nuclear, that we have been told about.

√ Nuclear is good for the environment, except when it leaks radioactive pollution for decades like Fukushima and the other nuclear accidents.

√ Required for base load to maintain the grid, except when the reactors are offline for extended periods when the grid gets along just fine when nuclear is shut down like it has in CA for a year and a half.

Lets cut to the punchline: If Germany can phase out Nuclear, so can the USA, the only thing standing in the way is the Nuclear Industry and their strangle hold on congressional Leaders that make our Energy rules! If people that installed rooftop solar got paid for their energy at the same rate that Utilities got paid for the energy that they generated (A Level Energy Playing Field) then Solar (of all flavors) would be installed everywhere, not just in Big Utility Projects! This would allow everyone to not only use Energy that they generate but sell back to the GRID (which we all pay for) for others to use! Ask yourself why the Utilities should be the only ones profiting from the sale of Energy?

Regarding Nuclear, the USA cannot afford the Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster RISK of one or more reactors melting down like the four did in Fukushima! Just because it has not happened yet in the USA is no guarantee that it will not occur tomorrow; that and the unknown costs of long term nuclear waste storage make nuclear no longer a good deal at any price, despite what the nuclear industry PR machine says!

N☢ More Nuclear Business As Usual,

Ratepayers have been ripped off enough.

*Nuclear Baloney (NB)

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Nuclear+Baloney

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 7:02 p.m.

CaptD: Fukushima is the best card to play against nuclear now. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 4:35 p.m.

The $742 Million Question:

Who should pay for the extra Decommissioning money, not yet collected?

Since the operators of San Onofre made the financial decision to shut it down prematurely, all decommissioning fees not already collected for Units 2 and 3 by 01/31/12, should be paid by the operators of San Onofre, not ratepayers!

Also the California Public Utilities Commission should required SCE put the Decommissioning of San Onofre out for public bid, instead of just giving the mega billion dollar job to SCE. California ratepayers cannot afford a sole source bid when so many International Companies with nuclear expertise are looking for work.

A public bidding process will save California ratepayers huge amounts of money, money which should not end up in SCE's shareholders pockets. This single project has the potential to jump start our economy, we cannot allow the CPUC to short circuit our states bidding process by not putting this job out for bid!

More + Chart of expenses: http://decommission.sanonofre.com/2013/06/the-742-million-question.html#comment-form

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 7:03 p.m.

CaptD: Of course the ratepayers should not be stuck with those San Onofre bills. It was a management mistake. Shareholders should pay. Don't count on it, though. Best, Don Bauder

1

CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 4:41 p.m.

From SanOnofreSafety.Org http://sanonofresafety.org/energy-options/

snip

San Onofre is permanently shut down and California has excess power without San Onofre and Diablo Canyon nuclear power reactors, according to data from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the electricity grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (ISO).

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 7:05 p.m.

CaptD: Yes, California has power aplenty without San Onofre. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 3, 2013 @ 5:10 p.m.

Hopefully the Sunbelt will soon power our country and reduce our dependance on foreign oil using clean safe non nuclear Solar (of all flavors)...

If Germany can aim at being powered by 100% renewable energy by 2050 why not the USA?

Everyday we wait, is yet another huge loss of solar energy wasted.

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Don Bauder July 3, 2013 @ 7:05 p.m.

CaptD: And Germany is not a sunshine state. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel July 3, 2013 @ 9:54 p.m.

reply to don bauder,

to achieve their goal, Germany will only rely upon solar for a small percentage of their renewable energy. To achieve their goal energy would also be sourced from Germany’s supplies of, wind, biomass, geothermal and, to a limited extent, hydropower.
btw, I have spent most of the last few years in the Seattle area and installed solar about 8 yrs ago. Contrary to what most people think, solar pv generation is severely hampered by the solar climate as it is roughly the same solar climate as in Germany and gets about 80% of the amount sun that San Diego gets. Not to mention that the local incentives are apparently much better than those offered in San Diego.

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danfogel July 3, 2013 @ 11:31 p.m.

correction "solar pv generation is severely hampered by the solar climate" should be is NOT severely hampered.

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Don Bauder July 4, 2013 @ 7:31 a.m.

danfogel: I thought so. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 4, 2013 @ 7:30 a.m.

danfogel: No question: Germany is trying other things besides solar. So are other countries including the U.S. If Seattle gets 80% of the sun that San Diego gets, then rooftop rooftop solar could save the world, including the gray U.S. Midwest. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel July 4, 2013 @ 10:57 a.m.

reply to don bauder. " If Seattle gets 80% of the sun that San Diego gets, then rooftop rooftop solar could save the world, including the gray U.S. Midwest" The fallacious logic behind that statement is exactly what part of the problem is. Anyone thinking that way is forgetting one very important aspect in the equation: the actual cost of electricity in a given area. That is also the exact reason solar pv has not yet become, and probably won't become, a major alternative energy source in areas such as Seattle. All you have to do is compare the equivalent electric rates to understand why. Someone connected to Seattle City Light is paying less than 40% of what someone is paying in San Diego for their electricity. Someone installing a solar pv system in San Diego say considerably more than someone with the same sized system in Seattle and thus the payback ti me is shorter. Bottom line is that if you already have pretty cheap electric rates, relatively speaking, what's the short term benefit of spending the money to install a solar pv system. that's how many in the PNW see it. And I'm sure that has a lot to do with Seattle area have in better incentives than San Diego. btw, if you look at the most recent JEA rate comparison, with the exception of California, many of the sunbelt states are among the least expensive place for electricity rates. That means less personal incentive to install solar pv in those areas.

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Don Bauder July 4, 2013 @ 5:04 p.m.

danfogel: If you look at the JEA stats, you find that over the last decade, SDG&E has consistently been the most expensive electric utility in the country. That is all the more reason for people to raise the roof -- pun intended -- for rooftop solar in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel July 5, 2013 @ 9:30 a.m.

reply to donbauder, you get no disagreement with me on that. Here in Calabasas, I'm connected to SCE, which tops that list right now. But that wasn't my point. My point was that the states with the cheapest rates are not going to "save the world" because their electricity is already cheap enough that residents don't really have much of an incentive to spend the money. If you look at a map of the states with the best solar resources and to the 2012 list of the top 10 states with installed residential solar, the only "sunbelt states" on the list are Ca, Fl, and Tx. The others are Oh, Il, Ga, NY, NC,Mi and Pa. most have about the same solar profile as the PNW. I don't know about most of their rates, but I do know that New York's residential electric rates are the highest in the continental United States and 58 percent above the national average.

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Don Bauder July 5, 2013 @ noon

danfogel: New York's cost of living is generally among the highest in the U.S. Manhattan is probably the highest. San Francisco is right up there, too. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Aug. 11, 2013 @ 5:04 p.m.

This remark about Seattle (as I read it) getting 80% of the sunshine of San Diego looks very odd to me. Some of it may be definitional, as to what "sun" means. I've had experience with pv panels, and unless the sun is coming from a clear sky, they don't put out the current at their rated voltage, meaning they are not producing usable electric power. Seattle is gray, gray, gray. And I know that because I lived there for a few years. They claim to get 60 days of sunshine a year. That's not quite one day in seven, but there's more to the story. Their definition of a day of sunshine is any day where the sun is visible for thirty minutes or more. Yes, boys and girls, if the sun peeks through for a mere half hour, they had a day of sunshine. Seattle residents, it is mentioned, pay about 40% of what we pay per kilowatt-hour. One major reason for that is hydro-power, and the city of Seattle has its own electrical utility that owns a major dam to the north of Seattle on the Skagit River that was built in the heyday of dam building. That, and many other sources of hydro-power make those rates possible. I strongly question the value of pv panels anywhere in the vicinity of Seattle. Leaden overcast skies dominate the region for most of the year, with no days of "sunshine" occurring for many months. The best time of year for sunny days there is late summer/early fall, when there are usually some glorious days that show off the scenery. After that: gray, gray, gray.

One thing not mentioned in all this commentary is that residents can do much to conserve electric power. Compact fluorescent lights, and even better yet, LED lights, can save plenty of power. Modern electronics use far less power than older equipment. Even those big screen TV's will soon be power sippers rather than power hogs. A penny saved is a penny earned, so rather than falling for the sales pitch of some solar outfit, see how much you might save with some conservation steps. Oh, you want your big side-by-side refrigerator-freezer with the ice and water dispenser in the door? Well, it has an initial cost and an ongoing cost. It was a choice you made.

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danfogel July 3, 2013 @ 9:50 p.m.

capt d, are you no longer posting under the Founder handle? I have been following your solar and nuclear comments with great interest for the last few months since my visit to San Diego.

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Don Bauder July 4, 2013 @ 7:32 a.m.

danfogel: I believe CaptD and Founder are one and the same, but I am not privileged to know the names of persons who post under a pseudonym. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder July 4, 2013 @ 8:52 a.m.

Founder CaptD

One writer with two foci

So many issue's

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Don Bauder July 4, 2013 @ 9:50 a.m.

Founder: Thanks for the answer. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 4, 2013 @ 8 a.m.

This article and its comments will be of interest to those that want to know what lies ahead for Solar Energy and the Utilities that are trying to maintain their market share!

Utility Solar Is Dead; Long Live Distributed Generation

The shift from the centralized utility model is forcing utilities—for the first time in their existence—to figure out how to compete.

Also let me introduce three (3) sources for accurate information:

  1. Bob_Wallace (He is so popular that he even has "socks" that try to post phony BS using his name but without the underscore, so make sure you are reading comments from the real Bob_Wallace), he is one of a handful of really knowledgable people on all things Solar.

  2. When it come to all things Wind, let me also introduce Paul Gipe of Wind-Works.org.

  3. For what is happening Energy-wise in Germany look no farther than: Energiewende Germany (@EnergiewendeGER is their twitter name).

Their free eBool Energy Transition is a great read and is something that all US Leaders should study because Germany is planning on being 100% renewable by 2050 and even now most of their energy comes not from Utilities but from small end users, which is something the USA should also be striving to duplicate, if we are to every have Energy Freedom!

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Don Bauder July 4, 2013 @ 9:51 a.m.

CaptD: You have supplied people interested in this subject with lots of reading suggestions. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 4, 2013 @ 10:15 a.m.

Germany's Clean Energy Push: What Can the World Learn? Register Now

Tue, Jul 9, 2013 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EDT

Known as the Energiewende, or "energy transition", Germany's campaign to move to renewable power is ambitious, massively popular at home, and by many accounts, quite successful. With 25% of Germany's electricity currently being sourced from solar, wind, and biomass generation and a target of 80% renewable by 2050 in place, the German energy economy is worth watching.

What can the rest of Europe, the U.S., and other nations learn from one wealthy nation's aggressive clean energy push? Will Germany succeed in meeting its goals? Which are its biggest obstacles? And perhaps most importantly, can other nations replicate Germany's most positive achievements? Join us as we ask:

  • What distinguishes Germany in terms of economics or political will that has made energiewende possible? Which nations have similar qualities?
  • What has been Germany's most successful strategy in cleaning up its energy mix?
  • Is the decision to eliminate nuclear power after the Fukushima event consistent with Germany's goals?
  • What could prevent other nations from adopting similar strategies?

Featuring:

  • Rainer Baake: Director of Agora-Energiewende, former Deputy Minister of the German Federal Environmental Ministry

  • Dr. Sören Buttkereit: Vice President of regulatory strategies for Siemens Energy, focused on market design in the power sector and the adaptations required for a successful transition towards systems with a higher share of (intermittent) renewables.

  • Stephanie Wang Regulatory Policy Director for the Clean Coalition, a nonprofit working to encourage a modern energy system of smaller-scale, efficient, renewable energy projects.

  • Jesse Jenkins, Moderator: MIT Energy Initiative Energy Fellow and Community Manager at The Energy Collective, former Director of Energy and Climate Policy at the Breakthrough Instituteenergiewende possible? Which nations have similar qualities?

What has been Germany's most successful strategy in cleaning up its energy mix?

Is the decision to eliminate nuclear power after the Fukushima event consistent with Germany's goals?

What could prevent other nations from adopting similar strategies?

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danfogel July 4, 2013 @ 11:23 a.m.

reply to capd One thing to keep in mind. It has been estimated that over the next 10 yrs, the cost of replacing Germany's nuclear power generation with renewable energy will be in excess of $300 billion. Putting all other factors aside, I can't come up with any possible scenario in which the US Congress would ever budget that kind of money for alternative energy. I mean forget about all of the lobbyists and special interest groups. Currently, and for the forseeable future, it's all about politics to these people and to hell with what should be and what NEEDS to be done. and without leadership at the national level, this country can never even approach beginning to do something similar to what Germany is trying to do. No matter what may or may not happen at the local/state level, things are just too fractured at the federal level.

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CaptD July 4, 2013 @ 1:58 p.m.

Even if it really cost 300 Billion that would still be a great deal since even one nuclear disaster like Fukushima is costing the Japanese people (and those living downwind) about a TRILLION dollars, and remember in the USA we have about a HUNDRED nuclear power plants...

More on Fukushima radiation: Shocking Plane Radiation On Flight From Chile To US http://rense.com/general96/shockingplanerad.html

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danfogel July 4, 2013 @ 4:37 p.m.

reply to captd a couple of points. actually, the US has nowhere near 100 nuclear power plants. I believe that with the closing of San Onofre, the number of operating plants is something in the mid 50's, maybe 53 or 54. The NRC has a list, so you can count them if you feel the need. There are, however, just about 100 operating reactors within those 50 some nuclear power facilities. also, I believe you are misconstruing my point. It's not whether or not the amount of money would be worth it, whether it be $100 billion, $300 Billion, or even into the trillions, because it would be worth it. My point was, which I think I made quite clearly, was that no matter the amount, those who currently control the purse strings are not going allow anything close to that amount of federal money to be spent on renewable/alternative energy sources. based on their performance over the past few yrs, can you provide a plausible scenario in which those in Congress who currently oppose such expenditures reverse their course? If so, I would like to hear it, because at this juncture, absolutely no one, from concerned individuals like me, all the way to those few responsible members of the government who want to do something, have been able to come up with such a scenario. It's not about coming up with what needs to be done, it's about getting those people we elected to do what needs to be done. And that clearly just isn't happening!!!

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Don Bauder July 6, 2013 @ 10:01 a.m.

danfogel: Congress is not just about politics. It's also about money shoveled out by lobbyists. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 4, 2013 @ 5:07 p.m.

CaptD: These are all critical questions. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel July 4, 2013 @ 10:30 a.m.

reply to captd "Better batteries will make the World a safer place!" I think another solution, perhaps a better one, is photocatalytic water splitting. Dr. Dan Nocera, one of the world's leading, if not THE leading authority on photosynthesis, discovered a way to split ordinary tap water into hydrogen and oxygen for use in fuel cells, which, when coupled to a solar pv system, could store enough energy to power an average house using a mere 5 gallons of water. Basically, storing energy from the sun by mimicking photosynthesis. Unfortunately, at around $100k, such a system is currently cost prohibitive.

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CaptD July 4, 2013 @ 2 p.m.

Until batteries catch up, and I believe they will if just a fraction of the money spent on nuclear R&D is spent on Battery R&D we should use our LNG...

LNG should be rushed into service inside the USA to reduce our dependance on Foreign Energy, not shipped overseas to make big money for BIG off shore businesses!

Think multi-fuel vehicles and building a LNG/LH2 distribution grid to "fuel" them!

One Solution: Add a huge export tax to every cubic foot of LNG shipped outside the USA!

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danfogel July 4, 2013 @ 4:51 p.m.

response to captd "Until batteries catch up, and I believe they will if just a fraction of the money spent on nuclear R&D is spent on Battery R&D we should use our LNG" I have no idea what the relevance of this point is. this story, and the comments made in reference to it are all about the use of solar pv, along with other renewable energy sources, such as wind and hydro as a replacement for fossil fuel and/or nuclear powered electric power plants. I don't understand how you think that the use of LNG as a vehicle fuel source has anything to do with that or with my comment about a possible alternative for home electrical storage alternatives. they are 2 disparate concepts and the alternative vehicle fuel sources is not even being discussed. Again, what is the relevance to anything else being discussed here?

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Don Bauder July 4, 2013 @ 5:12 p.m.

CaptD: I can just see the lobbyists pouring into Washington DC, carrying satchels of hundred dollar bills, should somebody suggest putting an export tax on LNG. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 5, 2013 @ 6:57 p.m.

From another blog on 6-19-13

RE: “The United States has an abundance of natural gas and liquefied natural gas exports will benefit the entire U.S. economy,” says Stephen Payne, chairman of United LNG. He says that if the pending export licenses are approved, it would add $50 billion to the American economy over seven years.

I believe that the majority of this money will go to the shareholder of Big Gas, while actual consumers will see their gas bills rise, instead of fall, due to the glut in gas being shipped overseas, instead of being used here at home!

Our current Congress has an almost perfect track record of bending over to satisfy Big Businesses' every whim, while at the same time making life ever more expensive for the majority of Americans they are sworn to SERVE...

The USA should be creating huge strategic stock piles of LNG ( and other things) that would lessen our dependance on importing foreign oil, something that could be reduced at any moment.

I'd like to suggest that a special "National Security Tax" be levied on every cubic foot of LNG sold overseas, that would be specifically used to purchase LNG for the above mentioned strategic stock pile, in order that it is not just the Big Gas Companies that benefit from the current glut in LNG prices. It is past time to start thinking about the long term fiscal health of our country and not just what is best for the BIGS............

Conversion as much of our transportation and industry from Petroleum over to the use of liquid gas (Natural and soon Hydrogen) should be a national priority and would help US become energy independent sooner!

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danfogel July 6, 2013 @ 10:14 a.m.

response to captd In LA, the MTA got rid if it's last diesel powered bus about 2 1/2 yrs ago. They have something like 2500 bus that run on natural gas. However, it's CNG, not LNG. Part of the reason, I believe, that a conversion of our transportation industry, both commercial and individual, is the expense. To buy a bus powered by CNG adds $50k to the price when built new ans a few thousand more when retrofitted. Several of the largest transportation companies are also looking at converting. But again, it's the expense. The cost per truck is roughly $30k to make the switch to CNG and about $65K for LNG, according to what I have read. I should point out that the trucking industry is looking in this direction for one reason and one reason only and it has nothing to do with energy independence. It's about cost cutting. Natural gas is currently about 25-35% cheaper than diesel, depending upon the area of the country. I agree that NGV's could be an alternative, but, just like everything else, it always boils down to the economics because someone has to pay for it.

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Don Bauder July 6, 2013 @ 12:56 p.m.

CaptD: Export taxes will meet a lot of fierce opposition. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Aug. 13, 2013 @ 12:12 p.m.

CaptD is likely confused about LNG, and why natural gas is ever liquified. For over forty years, the notion of LNG has been bandied about, and for most of that time it was as a means to deliver natural gas from overseas to the US. Now, in an unexpected turnabout, the US seems to have a surplus of natural gas, and those who own or control it want to sell it elsewhere. Hence the talk of LNG again.a LNG is a way to move large quantities of natural gas long distances that cannot be handled by pipelines. Otherwise, there is no reason to bring it to the liquid state. It seeks, at our terrestrial temperatures and pressures, to be in the gaseous state.

Gas, once liquified, does not just sit there in a tank. To make natural gas into a liquid, a great deal of energy has to be expended to compress it and dissipate the heat released from the gas. The liquid then has to be stored in insulated tanks, and kept refrigerated for as long as it is stored. Stockpiling LNG is just out of the question, and would be no solution to our energy problems. The way to stockpile natural gas is to locate it and leave it in the ground. That is, once a well or a field is identified and drilled and ready for production, and once it is connected to a pipeline grid, it can be capped and held in reserve. When the reserve is needed, it would be a simple matter of opening the valves and allowing it to flow to where it is needed.

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Don Bauder July 4, 2013 @ 5:10 p.m.

danfogel: Photocatalytic water splitting sounds intriguing. Mimicking photosynthesis -- intriguing. What is cost prohibitive now may not be so in the future, particularly at the rate utilities are raising rates. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel July 5, 2013 @ 9:34 a.m.

reply to donbauder Three yrs ago, it penciled out at about $100k per residential system.

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Don Bauder July 6, 2013 @ 12:52 p.m.

danfogel: Prices can go down as a technology catches on. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister July 5, 2013 @ 8:38 a.m.

Go to bed and get up with the chickens. (Well, at least we get up when it's light, and we have had the AC on only twice this summer.)

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Don Bauder July 5, 2013 @ 11 a.m.

Twister: A variation on your aphorism is "Sleep with the dogs and wake up with the fleas." Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK Aug. 2, 2013 @ 10:07 a.m.

I wonder how many of the solar companies will still be in business before the warranty on the systems expire.

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Twister Aug. 11, 2013 @ 8:10 p.m.

All generation "plants" should be equal. Then solar would pencil out for me.

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