On Creative Misdirection and Pyrrhic Victories

To begin with, I want to explain why the term "Pyrrhic Victories" was chosen as part of the title.

When the average North Carolinian reflects upon the passage of our Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards and/or the agreements reached to allow private citizens and small businesses to feed surplus power back into the grid via net metering, most of them would assume great progress is being made in this area.

I (and many others) believe this is not the case, and this false sense of accomplishment could be doing irreparable harm to the movement towards renewable energy that our future so desperately needs.

I also believe that regulations have been put into place with the primary goal of discouraging the use of residential Solar power generation. Let's take a look at some of them:

All electricity is not valued equally. on-peak generation is valued more than off-peak generation. Therefore, excess off-peak generation should be available only during other off-peak hours, not during on-peak hours.

This may seem like a fair requirement, but it is actually the core issue of a patently unfair system of "exchange", to give it a name. Off-peak hours (during the day) are the only hours that photovoltaic panels can produce energy (duh). By their very nature, these hours are also (on average) low energy usage/demand, because energy users are at school or work.

So let's say you install a system large enough to not only cover your low (daytime) energy demands, it also sends extra kilowatts back to the grid. You're given credit for those kilowatt hours, but you can only use them for (other) daytime energy needs. When you get home from work, you're buying fresh on-peak kilowatt hours from the power company, while your surplus credits are waiting for a rainy day so they can be used.

But the energy you produced is not really waiting, is it? Nope. The power company has already sold it to your next-door-neighbor. Even though it's off-peak, they've already made money off of your energy. Your credits might be building up, but unless you can do a successful raindance, they may not do much good for you. And if you don't use them quick enough:

To require net metering customers to grant excess generation only annually at the beginning of each Summer season

Those credits that represent energy the power company has already sold to someone else goes away. They made money from it, you didn't. Kind of hard to pay off an expensive Solar system when your money goes into the power company's pocket.

What's the solution? Well, you could buy an expensive battery, so you can store some of your surplus to use when you get home from work, but that's called "gaming the system", if you can believe a company that steals your surplus actually has the gall to use that term:

Utilities may raise specific concerns with the Commission if they believe that such gaming or abuse becomes a problem in general or specific instances. Any customer found to be engaging in such practices shall be banned from net metering.

I've typed and erased about five really nasty comments directed at the Commission, so I'll leave it with this: you're not representing me; you're not representing my fellow North Carolinians; you're not representing the wishes of the people, you're representing the power companies. Stop calling yourselves "impartial", and stop calling them "public" utilities. Both of these terms are misleading, and you have both abandoned our future and our trust.

If there are any General Assembly representatives reading this, please take some steps to fix this. Our future depends on it.

You can start with forcing the Commission to allow off-peak credits to be used towards on-peak demand. Even if the off-peak hours are only worth 65% of on-peak hours, residential generators will get to use all of the energy they've produced.

Comments

Front-paged

Good stuff, Steve. It's amazing how they use our hopes for creating a better way to screw us, isn't it? Keep letting us know about this.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Thanks to you folks

for giving this the attention it deserves. We're not going to make any substantial progress in this area as long as the environment remains hostile towards citizens taking the initiative to generate their own power.

Solar has so much potential. You know how the dynamic of neighborhoods operates, right? Somebody gets something new, other people become familiar with this new thing and possibly decide to do it themselves, yada yada. That's how trends get started. Not from things we see on the telly, but from people we know who try something new.

Do we want those forward-looking individuals who make the leap to Solar power complaining to their neighbors about unfair regulations, or do we want them proudly promoting energy self-reliance? It's a rhetorical question, but it still needs to be asked.

Again, thanks. :)

I would not have realized these finer points

of this issue had you not spelled them out for me. I'm not currently in the position to install solar panels, because we don't own our home. I don't want to invest that kind of $$$ in some one else's property - especially if there's a Catch-22 in there like that. So we'll keep on using our special curly light bulbs (which still seem dim to me), drying our clothes outside when we can, and doing other things to keep our electric costs down.

Someday, though, my goal is to get off the grid as much as possible. Like Ed Begley, Jr. Have you seen his program?


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I almost ran some lady off the road

a little while ago. I ran to the Post Office to purchase some Breast Cancer stamps (you're welcome), when I heard some tripe on the radio (NPR).

It sems a group of utility companies wanted to praise the State of North Carolina for its efforts to promote renewable energy measures as well as encouraging residential power production.

This is about the time I said, "What the f**k!" and tried to change lanes without looking. Sorry, whoever you were...

You should email them.

Or call. Maybe you'll get equal time. :)


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Great idea! (I think...)

I received an answering e-mail pretty quickly asking for more information, and I just sent back a rather long :) reply, so, you know...

Now I'm thinking, "What are you doing? Do you even have a clue what's going on? What if they ask you a question you can't answer? For that matter, what are the odds they'll ask a question you can answer?"

:o

Go You!

Let us know when you'll be on the air. :-p


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi