Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Oklahoma Moves To Discourage Solar and Wind Power

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the who-needs-the-sun? dept.

Earth 504

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Paul Monies reports at NewsOK that Oklahoma's 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.''"

cancel ×

504 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Something wrong at the foundation - (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809751)

Why do investors think they are entitled to growth?

There is a risk to returns. If the investors want no risk then they should get no gains.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (5, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46809825)

I don't know how or where this "grow or die" idea began, but it's just plain wrong. You can't have infinite growth within a finite market.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (0)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 4 months ago | (#46809889)

In what was is the market finite?

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#46809923)

Size? Potential size?

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1)

DM9290 (797337) | about 4 months ago | (#46810129)

Size? Potential size?

you mean in square feet?

Wrong units (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | about 4 months ago | (#46810327)

Size? Potential size?

you mean in square feet?

No, no -- he's clearly talking in terms of coconuts to sparrows.

:-P

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810051)

"grow or die" is the modern equivalent of whipping the slaves to get them to work harder. It's not about market size, it's about maximizing productivity. Whip them to work longer hours, for less pay, etc. etc.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1)

SumDog (466607) | about 4 months ago | (#46810343)

I don't think slaves get paid

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810375)

When the choice may very well come down to starve or work at a job that essentially treats you as an indentured servant, can you really call this a choice? Sure, starving is a choice if you no longer wish to continue to live, but not really.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1, Troll)

preaction (1526109) | about 4 months ago | (#46810393)

Then you're (hopefully) not currently a wage slave. Instead of slaving for a place to live and food to eat, you can slave for money to barely pay for a place to live and food to eat! It's capitalistic! It's slaverrific!

False dilemma (3, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about 4 months ago | (#46810303)

I don't know how or where this "grow or die" idea began, but it's just plain wrong.

It's not grow or die. It's grow or lose investors. If I own a company (I'm a shareholder) and want a return on my investment the only way for that to occur is for the company to grow. In fact it has to grow faster than the rate of inflation or I will be losing money. The company has to engage in profitable activities sufficient to generate a return for investors. If the future value of risk adjusted cash flows is lower than another potential investment then the company will lose investors because they will put their money into the other investment.

You can't have infinite growth within a finite market.

I've never seen a company experience infinite growth or anything close so that's kind of a meaningless statement. You can however have substantial growth rates for a long time both for a company and for a market. There are companies that have grown by 10%+ per year on average for decades.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (0)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 4 months ago | (#46810321)

thought experiment time, for a box with maximum volume V, what is the maximum surface area of an object inside of it?

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (5, Interesting)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 4 months ago | (#46810411)

The explanation is very simple: debt.
And unfortunately it is not plain wrong in an economic sense.

The neo-con ideology which has pervaded most capitalist economies is one of debt fuelled growth. This is across the board including government, business and private household debt. In the US this started in earnest with Regan, in other countries it began when whatever new-breed, neo-con idealist came to power in their country.
The problem is that these economies are now (metaphorically) "negatively geared". This means that while they are growing and turning a profit they are ok and turn a profit for yourself from other people's money. But when they start to make a loss the losses are exaggerated by the gearing and the economy is in serious trouble.
e.g. How many times has it been reported around the world that even a flat GDP growth is a major problem and will have serious negative consequences and negative GDP growth will be a utter disaster? Sound like a healthy and robust situation to you?!

This is where your "grow or die" mentality comes from and it makes perfect economic sense.

Now everyone in business knows that if the total cost of a project (including interest etc) is less than the profits (after taking risk into account) then the project should usually go ahead. Funding projects with debt and allowing those with capital to benefit from the time value of their money is perfectly sane and sensible and a core part of any healthy economy.

HOWEVER

The problem with this mentality as it has been applied across the board (i.e. at a country or global level) in the modern economy is many-fold:

- The true cost of many projects is simply ignored or left for future generations to deal with. (e.g. pollution, retirement, housing, infrastructure, sustainability)
- Many of the projects are pork barrel spending and not a net positive at all
- The true cost of the DEBT itself is ignored. (e.g. The Fed handing out essentially free money to financial institutions and the accumulation overseas debt)
- The overall impact to the economy of certain projects/decisions is not taken into account. (e.g. job losses, economic stimulus)
- The positive economic stimulus of a policy/project (e.g. Bush tax cuts) is grossly over estimated.

This is what has led you to the current situation. The ONLY way out of it is through a painful correction of some sort.
e.g.
- Higher taxes of some sort to pay off outstanding debt to bring it to sensible levels
- Massive reduction in spending (probably not an actual option as the viable cuts would not amount to enough)
- Create a huge number of new exports that bring in additional money. (again, not really viable since it would probably already have been done if it was)
- Some other major macro economic change that would destabilise the market in the short/medium term.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (5, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#46809851)

This is the flip-side to regulated utilities. When your profit is determined by the government, you always turn to the government to increase or maintain your profits, which in turn means you become quite expert at that game. [smbc-comics.com]

I don't object to a fair "base rate" that actually covers the maintenance overhead; seems fair to pay that even if you're a net seller to the utility. This may become another case where the "last mile" maintenance costs should be separated from the "content provider".

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810005)

Regulatory capture is a symptom of lack of democracy. The solution isn't to eliminate democracy entirely, but to improve the democratic process.

The baby-with-the-bathwater reductio is elimination of the entire justice system because some powerful guys are good at manipulating it a bit. And, having been brought up at the tail end of a fascist state, I guarantee that you don't want to live in a country with an impotent judiciary.

Lay off the Freedom Loving Punch (4, Informative)

mpapet (761907) | about 4 months ago | (#46810025)

The last time I looked, the flip side to a regulated utility was a deregulated utility. Deregulated utilities end up as monopolies.

The other last time I looked, business interests of all kinds turn to governments to maintain their profits, and raise barriers to competition. And spare me the "The problem is bad regulation." That's not the problem.

Re:Lay off the Freedom Loving Punch (2)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#46810253)

Deregulated utilities end up as monopolies.

So do regulated utilities. You need some way to distinguish between the two.

The other last time I looked, business interests of all kinds turn to governments to maintain their profits, and raise barriers to competition.

So you disagree that there is a stronger incentive to turn to government to enhance your business model when the government is the primary factor determining how profitable you are?

Re:Lay off the Freedom Loving Punch (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#46810387)

I know you know that is not in any way what he stated.

Re:Lay off the Freedom Loving Punch (-1, Troll)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 months ago | (#46810415)

1: only 3-5 in the US are allowded to come to your house, shoot your dog, take all your belongings, put you in a cage, and/or kill you.

2: only 3-5 entities can wait till you build a company, then show up at the last minute to tell you "you didn't build that!", then procede to tell you how to run your company. And if you don't follow instructions... well see point 1.

All of those entities are governments.

Now THAT is a monopoly.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810065)

This is exactly right. The reality is that the current billing methods are not setup correctly to handle large amounts of users locally generating their power. If you are connected to the grid there is still a fixed maintenance cost associated keeping you on the grid. The fact that your net usage for a year may be nothing or even generating a small amount of excess power doesn't mean that those base costs go away. Currently, part of those costs are "hidden" in the usage rates so that heavy users (companies, more well off individuals, etc) help to subsidize the lower users (aka the poor).

With out changes to accurately reflect the base costs this flips around and your well off customers are the ones who are getting subsidized by the companies and poor as they are the ones who can afford the up front costs of these installations, have the space to do them etc.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#46810403)

There is not really that much overhead to keep you connected. Unless you are at the end of the line the line must be maintained if you are there or not, in order to reach the next customer, so that is not a cost to keep you connected. Really the cost is the connection to your home from the line, which rarely has any issues.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#46810103)

I don't object to a fair "base rate" that actually covers the maintenance overhead; seems fair to pay that even if you're a net seller to the utility.

That much is perfectly fine, but why should a customer who decreases his electricity consumption by, say, 5 kWh per day by means of installing solar batteries be treated differently than a customer who decreases his electricity consumption by 5 kWh per day by means of buying more energy-saving home appliances?

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810301)

If you get a Tesla, and stop paying taxes that end up improving the roads you drive on... what then? What if a large percentage stops buying gas and "paying for the roads" with taxes on the gas? What if everyone does it? Who pays for the roads to get maintained?

How is this any different? Some people stop paying for electric... many... most... who pays for the wiring, poles, transformers, etc? A smaller number of people...

It's an honest dilemma... How do you keep the costs honest on a shifting base?

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (2)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#46810361)

Well, charging different customer differing base rates doesn't sound fair to me, unless there's legitimately some significant infrastructure build-out cost the utility faces to support net power generation at the endpoints (no clue if that's so).

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 4 months ago | (#46810133)

Why do you say regulatory capture? With the exception of nuclear power, I don’t see a lot of regulatory capture in the electric market. Regulatory capture normally happens when the regulations are narrow and complex. Most of the current issues surrounding electric generation tend to be old, well settled issues, which results in open debate – or at least where I live.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1)

hey! (33014) | about 4 months ago | (#46810183)

This is the flip-side to regulated utilities. When your profit is determined by the government, you always turn to the government to increase or maintain your profits, which in turn means you become quite expert at that game. [smbc-comics.com]

Which is not a problem, if the legislators, governor and regulators are working for the public. The public needs a grid and base generation capability, and the utility is guaranteed a safe and reasonable profit if it provides these things.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#46810383)

If the utility gets a better return from optimizing their lobbying than their infrastructure, that's a problem. People respond to incentives. People need a communications infrastructure maintained too, but that doesn't excuse Comcast.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (3, Informative)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 4 months ago | (#46809941)

Because their profits are (kind of) regulated.

Electric Utilities are heavily regulated. I am not sure about Oklahoma, but in many states the rate that utilities can charge is tied back to the cost of electric production, Since electric production tends to be capital intensive, that means their cost of capital, and that ties back to the health of the utilities earnings, both in terms of growth and stability (i.e. risk).

Feeding electricity back into the grid is not a free lunch for the utilities – there are costs involved. (and I am sure that electric utilities will whine loudly in an exaggerated fashion as they fight a rearguard action.)

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1)

SumDog (466607) | about 4 months ago | (#46810337)

People are afraid of deflation, layoffs, reduction in force, etc. But it's sad because it's a failure to realize sometimes that maybe technology has brought us to the point where we don't need those jobs. We could staff fewer people and pay them all more and free up other people for more interesting jobs. I mean really, we should have a TON more robots right now.

But we have this feeling everyone has to work; you gotta do what you gotta do and all that bullshit. So we pay people less, work them more and people are afraid of being automated because they like that paycheck.

Capitalism is a failure.

Re:Something wrong at the foundation - (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#46810351)

Why do investors think they are entitled to growth?

It's the sociopathic religion of Ayn Rand, or the Christian-influenced variation: "God wants me to be rich because I'm special and thus entitled to step on the lazy slothful poor".

Peak During the Day? (3, Informative)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#46809761)

Obviously this varies from region to region, but I was always led to understand that in hot locales, peak was late afternoon, when houses began to cool down, and businesses were still cooling. ...part of the reason why large solar plants are moving to molten salt -- to keep providing power in the early evening when the sun isn't directly overhead.

Re:Peak During the Day? (4, Informative)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 4 months ago | (#46809927)

Afternoon is still considered 'day' by most people, if you're in an area where the sun hasn't set yet.

Of course, that assumes summer time -- if you're in an area where many people rely on electicity for heating, in the winter the peak may be closer to sunrise. (with a second peak in the evening, as people get home & heat their homes & start cooking).

Re:Peak During the Day? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#46810113)

Uh...you reorient the solar panels? (If you don't have solar trackers already, that is.)

Oklahoma (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809765)

"Backwoods since 1907!" Can't be black, brown or green and get a fair shake in the bible belt that is Oklahoma.

Pathetic.

Makes more sense than you give them credit for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809767)

Assuming the maintenance costs are built into the cost of a kilowatt-hour and your budgeting process assumes a minimum usage to recoup each customer's share, customers that dip below the minimum would necessarily need to pay more.

The real question is why they feel the need to change the base rate (the most politically difficult route, as you have to convince the Public Utilities Commission of your state) instead of adding a "co-generation fee" or something similar to make up the difference.

Re:Makes more sense than you give them credit for (3, Insightful)

Lazere (2809091) | about 4 months ago | (#46809843)

500 customers from 1.3 million is pretty much a rounding error. You can't tell me that they are such a drain on the system that the power company can't pay the maintenance costs.

want to figure it out BEFORE most customers pay $0 (3, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | about 4 months ago | (#46809953)

They say they want to start working out a solution BEFORE it becomes a big problem.

A solar customer could sell lots of power to them around noon, and use about the same amount at night. This customer would have an electric bill of $0, because they put as much energy into the grid as they took out. In 10 or 20 years, if a million customers are doing that, you have the power company trying to run on a budget of zero - no money to pay salaries, no money to fix equipment, etc. Obviously that doesn't work, the power company would go broke and noone would have power, except while it's sunny. They don't want to wait until that happens to address the problem, a problem which probably will occur if nothing is changed.

But They Sell at Wholesale (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810067)

When you put power back on the grid, it is at wholesale. You *used* to wind the meter backwards and have a result of 0, but no longer with newer meters.

I don't see how the utilities can dislike that as they make a profit on energy returned to the system.

Re:But They Sell at Wholesale (1)

Vesvvi (1501135) | about 4 months ago | (#46810363)

They only make a profit if they can sell it or store it at the time it is being generated. When the demand dips low enough (a substantially non-zero number, given technical and business overheads), they start losing money.

Re:want to figure it out BEFORE most customers pay (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810333)

Where I live a large number of summer homes are unoccupied the majority of the year, to get around zero charges for empty homes (which still require system maintenence to keep connected) the utility charges a daily connection fee, coupled with slightly lower per KWh charges.

This change in billing structure could easily solve the $0 solar customer problem.

However the proposed changes, raising the base rate, will also encourage energy conservation.

Re:want to figure it out BEFORE most customers pay (2)

litehacksaur111 (2895607) | about 4 months ago | (#46810395)

What the hell are you talking about. Any engineer will tell you that generating power at peak demand is much more expensive on the plant than at other times. So even though the customer is being billed zero, the utility still gains. Of course the utilities are greedy bastards so they go to the government for more money that they somehow feel they are entitled to. You see the utilities are the real welfare queens here.

Re:Makes more sense than you give them credit for (3, Insightful)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 4 months ago | (#46809965)

I think the idea is to get this passed while it is still "only" 500 people. They would get a lot more push back if it was 5,000 or 50,000 at which point it would start to be a significant factor pushing up costs for others. NOTE: I think they need to evolve with the times, not try to charge more to sustain their model but I do understand why they are doing it.

Re:Makes more sense than you give them credit for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809911)

The infrastructure price likely IS built in, but was paid off long ago. Last I checked Oklahoma was not growing at such a fast pace that electrical services are in an "expanding" phase. More like "run and maintain" phase.

Changing the base rate, instead of say, charging a flat rate on a per month basis for those who choose to supplement, shows that it is not a "calculated" cost already. It's actually the most drastic thing they can do. It's more of a warning from the good ole' boys union that you need to rethink solar in their state.

Ultimately, I believe its a stop gap for the utility company that will not actually provide long term solutions.

Eventually you would have the one solar hold out, supporting the entire grid.,... matter of time.

Thats like the only gas station in town raising the base price per gallon for everyone because 1% of town drives Tesla's. Then making it a law, so they can throw their hands up when people complain... most of these rural places do not have competitors in the utility market.

Long story short - screw old, white, fat, racist republicans. I'm white and from Texas and even I do not identify with these douches.

Re:Makes more sense than you give them credit for (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about 4 months ago | (#46810347)

Last I checked Oklahoma was not growing at such a fast pace that electrical services are in an "expanding" phase. More like "run and maintain" phase.

Nope, we are pretty much maxed out on power. Thus they are pushing out some programs to highly incentivise (by a factor of 10) to move power consumption out of peak time. They are putting in expensive smart thermostats that communicate rates to you that can change from on day to another depending on the temperature. they have rolled out smart meters that report back every 15 minutes on the usage. Basically, they know they need to build another plant but they are delaying as long as possible because it is a huge capital expense, and of course, no one wants to let them build it either, at least until the rolling blackouts start.

Re:Makes more sense than you give them credit for (2)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 4 months ago | (#46809913)

Assuming the maintenance costs are built into the cost of a kilowatt-hour and your budgeting process assumes a minimum usage to recoup each customer's share, customers that dip below the minimum would necessarily need to pay more.

The real question is why they feel the need to change the base rate (the most politically difficult route, as you have to convince the Public Utilities Commission of your state) instead of adding a "co-generation fee" or something similar to make up the difference.

A co-generation fee would only make sense if it was extra work for them. The baserate is the correct place to do it but not the way they are doing it.
They shouldn't charge a different baserate to different customers. There should be a "connection fee" and a "per kilowatt" fee. The "connection fee"
should be the same whether you use 0kw, 1kw, 100kw, or negative kilowatts. Whether and how much you should get credited on the "per kilowatt"
side if you go negative should be the only thing being debated. On a somewhat related note, I kindof like how alot of other countries do utlities and
charge progressively. The first kilowatt is cheap but if you are a high user (i.e. business or rich) then each additional kilowatt gets progressively
more expensive. This encourages conservation and is a decent type of consumption tax (assuming they reduce taxes elsewhere) as it allows the
poor to get basic electricity for free but charges a "luxury tax" on richer high usage consumers. Of course this works better in countries where the
government owns the electricity.

Re:Makes more sense than you give them credit for (1)

meerling (1487879) | about 4 months ago | (#46809997)

The costs are built in, that's standard in any utility.
I've talked to one of our utility boards and sat in on their meetings. Around here, you pay for the box that measures the electricity going both ways instead of the usual one way box. Other than that, you get paid the normal rate for sending power to the grid, despite some people wanting to scam a premium for renewables.
As to the infrastructure, it costs the same whether you are using it or not, the big cost is the power, especially at peak. It's very expensive to import power, and that has to be done a lot. It's also very expensive and difficult to get new power plants built. Having customers supplement the available supply makes things better for the utility company, their customers, and everyone else down the road as well.
What you're seeing in Oklahoma is just a greedy money grab by some heartless bean counter that is conveniently ignoring the benefits so they can try to push off some unavoidable expenses on their part onto their innocent customers.

Re:Makes more sense than you give them credit for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810407)

Seems to me that the maintenance costs of the distribution infrastructure should be called out separately from the cost for the product used. Everyone pays the same share of the infrastructure maintenance plus the cost of their own usage/generation. I suspect that the power companies do not really want to let the public know how little they're really spending on maintenance.

Storage (1)

jennatalia (2684459) | about 4 months ago | (#46809771)

It's too bad they couldn't store that energy in another way for long term usage in batteries. Are the windmills too efficient?

Re:Storage (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#46809955)

At present, more or less all the options for electricity storage pretty much suck. Some of the more advanced purpose-built ones (fancy batteries, supercapacitors, that sort of thing) might actually be reasonably efficient; but the cost enough that it hardly matters. The ones you get 'for free', like pumped hydro, are not particularly efficient and only work if you have certain conditions in place.

Re:Storage (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#46810019)

It's too bad they couldn't store that energy in another way for long term usage in batteries. Are the windmills too efficient?

This is NOT about efficiency, it's about availability. With wind and solar there are unpredictable variations in the power provided. The problem here is that this variation in power output effects the stability of the power grid in a number of ways. The most basic issue is that the electric providers must schedule power generation literally *hours* (and sometimes days) in advance. This means you order capacity to cover the possible variations from all these solar and wind power sources. But capacity costs money if you use it or not, because you committed to burn the fuel, but you didn't use the power.

So, solar and wind add to uncertainly and lead to more fuel waste. This translates into increased financial costs/KWh that is not always apparent to users of the grid. Battery storage could help, but it is hugely inefficient so most solar and wind power installations don't have any storage capacity.

There are other stability issues, but they get pretty hard to explain..

Suck It Up! (5, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | about 4 months ago | (#46809783)

'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.''

Suck it up princess!

I know you're going to fight tooth and nail to get legislators to protect your business model but the writing is on the wall. Feel free to look up buggy whip manufacturers if you want to see how this story is going to end in the long run.

Oh, and if you think we, the public, are going to feel any sympathy for you as your business model gets replaced by newer and better technology, trust me when I say you're wrong. No sympathy. Adapt or die.

I know you think legislate or die are the options on the table but I assure you, it's adapt or die.

Re:Suck It Up! (3, Interesting)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46809855)

Or, in Star Trek words...

We, the collective, believe your technology is not even worthy of being considered. You will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.

Re:Suck It Up! (3, Informative)

kwiecmmm (1527631) | about 4 months ago | (#46809887)

And I am sure that that some tax breaks or subsidies helped them get their grid up to begin with.

Re:Suck It Up! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809919)

BTW, similar trick was pulled off successfully in Spain, where the Sun is shining most of the year.
Solar power gets taxed more and you will be fined 30K EUR, if you do not comply.

Re:Suck It Up! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809933)

No sympathy. Adapt or die.
 
I see someone here doesn't understand the power of a government regulated utility. If you thought big money lobbies were a problem you ain't seen nothing yet.

You must not be from around here... (1, Insightful)

rts008 (812749) | about 4 months ago | (#46810031)

You obviously are not familiar with Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is a firm Republic state, and past experience tells me this will be legislated.

Re:You must not be from around here... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810189)

So sad. States like Oklahoma and Kansas used to be hot beds of progressive, socialist, and even communist and anarchist activity.

I suppose they're still a hot bed of communist activity, in as much as they're padding out the profits of a state-sanctioned monopoly, and affirmatively reject modern socio-economic theories.

all hail the rich (1)

Tristfardd (626597) | about 4 months ago | (#46810271)

If homes with the solar panels had electrical storage systems and disconnected from the utility, the utility would not have a case. It's hard for me to understand why people attack the utility when the money types get a free ride paid for by those who can't cash in. The crowd that can afford the solar panels can afford to chip in to help support the utility. I live in an apartment. Why should my bills have to help cover the extra capacity needed when the solar panel people have a bad day and want the power.

Re:Suck It Up! (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#46810325)

I havn't done any buggy whip research, but I assume they shifted focus and moved from making whips for horses into S&M whips. I bet they loved what that 50 shades of grey book did for their sales.

Oklahoma not OK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809789)

Because after they drive the utilities out of business, they might drive the lobbyists and the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats out of business next. These extremists must be stopped at all costs!!!

Re:Oklahoma not OK! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#46810367)

These extremists must be stopped at all costs!!!

Spot the contradiction in the above sentence.

This is odd... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809797)

because usually Republicans are pro-solar power because it is so bad for the environment. You never overcome the environmental damage caused by making the panels.

Re:This is odd... (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46809867)

Just because the current technology isn't good enough doesn't mean "solar power" is going to be bad forever. That's like comparing a Ford Model T with an IBM Model M.

Re:This is odd... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#46810291)

At its core, Solar is solar and it all suffers from one glaring problem, it's extremely difficult (i.e. impossible) to accurately project how much power you will get from an installation at any single instant. Power grids must always have excess capacity available or risk going down and most industrial sized power plants take hours to throttle up while usually providing very little storage capacity. So you have to schedule hours in advance how much fuel to burn which means you have to know how much power you will need to have. Solar power may or may not be available and may come and go on a partly cloudy day, meaning that providers have to schedule excess capacity to cover for this uncertainty. This means that a Kw/H from a solar plant is worth somewhat less than from a power source that is easier to predict because it wastes more fuel to keep enough capacity in the system when you use solar.

This issue with solar will *not* go away. What may happen is that we may be able to someday store electrical power and smooth out the uncertainly.

Because screw the free market, apparently. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809807)

Who needs a free market anyway, let's just regulate profitability for industries so as to not risk disturbing the status quo.

Damned idiotic, cronyistic bull shit.

Re:Because screw the free market, apparently. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809875)

Cutting subsidies for solar couldn't kill it, it just kept getting cheaper and better. Can taxing it keep it more expensive than centralized power? Stay tuned, the establishment will be right back with the answer!

this is nothing to do with the free market (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 4 months ago | (#46810047)

The utilities were already required by law to buy customers' solar power at full retail price. That eliminated any free market angle right then.

This just modifies the laws.

If you are a huge free market fan, would you agree that removing the regulatory requirements on these utilities and letting them determine what to pay for customer-generated solar power would restore the proper order?

We all know that wouldn't work. With only one way to sell their solar power (through the utility) the utility would just refuse to pay them anything.

Re:this is nothing to do with the free market (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about 4 months ago | (#46810357)

As a free market fan, I absolutely favor privatizing their state -supported industry. Let the entire network be split up into parallel systems, give every residental owner an equal number of credits towards buying the stock of any particular line, set up a transmission bidding clearinghouse, and let everyone with credits bid on the stock. Then, with the profits already pocketed by the electric companies, turn around and install MORE parallel networks wherever there isn't much of a choice, and let the public bid with cash on those. Then with those proceeds, rinse and repeat.

Or maybe you don't agree?

I understand that some think that free market means that we first use the government to nationalize competitors, create a monopoly, then privatize the nationalized institutions, and give them to the wealthiest bidders, which are the monopolies.

Is that your definition of free market? If so, I'll let you know that as a conservative I haven't voted Republican in twenty years.

For the love of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809827)

It seems now with every emerging industry, established corporations, by way of Government lobbying, don't want to what amounts as progress. Tesla is facing it right presently, and solar and wind will be facing it soon. Whatever the opposite of progress is in the US, it seems Corporate interest are determined to force us down that path.

Next up, if it hasn't already happened wholesale, is agriculture!

Re:For the love of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809897)

>Next up, if it hasn't already happened wholesale, is agriculture!

It's already happened with Monstanto.

All this corruption can't end well.

Everyone is going make sure they have enough (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809833)

Battery backup to completely cut from the grid. When people learn how well it works the pace will accelerate until no residential power users exist. You can bet that long term.
I bet republicans are behind this.

that's an empty threat (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 4 months ago | (#46810155)

These customers currently (using OGE, one of the utilities for Oklahoma as an example) get to sell power during the day at $0.14/kWh and buy it back at night at $0.0027/kWh. They are using the grid as a 500% efficient battery.

If they go to using an actual battery, will have to increase the size of their array many times in order to reach the same level of monthly bill reduction they currnetly have. And they have to buy a battery.

The current plan is an enormous subsidy to solar customers. That's why they will stick with it. Even if a fee is tacked on top which reduces their financial advantage it will still be far more financially advantageous than going off-grid.

jeezus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809847)

Is there any industry that isn't run by manipulative money-grubbing dickholes?

Re:jeezus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810053)

Is there any industry that isn't run by manipulative money-grubbing dickholes?

Are you talking about women? Surely not you male pig!

Re:jeezus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810359)

Yes. There are several. They're easy to spot. They typically have costs compounding 5-10% annually. They're run, or at least highly regulated and subsidized by, the Federal Government.

Two examples would be post secondary education and health care.

A simple question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46809863)

Why the fuck are we trying to salvage shitty business models?

Interesting hat it mirrors the electric car issues (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 4 months ago | (#46809873)

If you take off your "Electric Companies are TEH EVIL" hat for a second, it's pretty interesting that they have the same issue that states do with paying for roads in relation to electric cars. That is, someone generating electricity or using an electric car is making use of a resource where the cost of access is subsidized by something you are no longer consuming.

I think the electric companies have a pretty good point that they still have to pay to maintain lines to your house even though you are now consuming a fraction of what you would have.

Re:Interesting hat it mirrors the electric car iss (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810087)

Exactly this. They shouldn't charge solar customers a higher base rate, they should make the pricing more transparent. Charge everybody a monthly connection fee. That goes to maintain the lines. Then you charge for electricity consumed by their plant. They have two businesses going, generation and distribution. Their pricing should reflect that.

Re:Interesting hat it mirrors the electric car iss (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#46810399)

Further, they should go to charge you based on "time of use" for that Kw/H.

Personally, I think the electric company should *pay* (at a discount) the Solar customer for each Kw/H the customer provides based on their current cost on the wholesale market and not pay at the customer's current retail price. Yes, customers may get more or less than they pay depending on when the power is supplied to the grid, but this would more closely reflect the utilities actual costs and benefits.

Re:Interesting hat it mirrors the electric car iss (5, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 4 months ago | (#46810089)

I think the electric companies have a pretty good point that they still have to pay to maintain lines to your house even though you are now consuming a fraction of what you would have.

I don't know about Oklahoma, but my bill is split into two parts: a fixed per-day customer charge, plus a separate charge per kWh. Presumably, the charge per day covers the lines and administrative overhead. (The per-kWh charge is further divided into separate fuel and generation charges, and the fuel rate changes frequently.)

If Oklahoma uses this system, then the utility is being fairly compensated for the power lines no matter how little electricity the customer actually buys.

Re:Interesting hat it mirrors the electric car iss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810115)

Except considering the fact that 98% (not an exaggeration) of damage to roadways from vehicle traffic is caused by large trucks, the electric car driver swho pay no gas taxes are actually paying much closer to their fair share than the automobile driver (particularly the low income one), who gets shafted. Just another example of big business (the trucking industires and htose who employ them) externalizing costs onto the taxpayer.

Re:Interesting hat it mirrors the electric car iss (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 4 months ago | (#46810223)

It's true that the vast majority of damage to roadways is from trucks, but there's also an opportunity cost of roads to which every road user contributes.

In other words, if you could magically remove a portion of users from the roads without affecting commerce, you could reclaim some of the lesser-used road lanes for taxpaying businesses and thereby improve that land's cost effectiveness to the city.

Re:Interesting hat it mirrors the electric car iss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810119)

Then allow the companies to charge a per-kWh-generated fee. Don't increase their base per-kWh-used fee.

Re:Interesting hat it mirrors the electric car iss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810177)

It's a no win situation.. in Florida that woman wanted to get off the grip and they sued her, saying she had to stay attached, and therefore had to pay..

It's all about their profit margins, plain and simple.

Re:Interesting hat it mirrors the electric car iss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810207)

One of the big issues with paying customers that generate electricity is that it costs the utility company more per wattage to pay a customer generating solar power than if they were to generate the extra power themselves. I am not sure about OK law, but I know in NY it was a major issue because of some funky laws in regards to the reimbursement of customer generated power being put back into the grid.

User generated power shouldn't be a burden on the power company. They should be able to reimburse at cost.

Re:Interesting hat it mirrors the electric car iss (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 4 months ago | (#46810211)

>I think the electric companies have a pretty good point that they still have to pay to maintain lines to your house even though you are now consuming a fraction of what you would have.

Which is why I, as a solar customer, pay $12 a month to PG&E to maintain the grid.

It's interesting that OK thinks that it's OK to change solar customers higher *power rates* instead. This means that it will penalize people for having smaller solar installations, and still not recover any extra tariffs from large installations that break even (or come close to it).

I should also mention that PG&E has been lobbying furiously in the state to void the CA state senate's decision that they need to pay me 3c/kWh for any excess generation I produce. We're still freeloaders, somehow, even though they're technically the ones trying to freeload on us.

It's amazing how much bullshit they and their shills have spit over the issue, and how the local newspapers have lapped it up, uncritically.

An obfuscation layer, how nice... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#46809879)

This seems like the sort of problem that could be much more logically and less painfully solved by breaking out the (more or less constant, at least within a given size class and geographic area) grid hookup cost and the per-KW/h price for electricity as separate items on the bill.

Infrastructure doesn't build and maintain itself, so if you want to maintain your connection, it's only logical that you'll pay something for that. If you try to bundle the distribution costs into the energy cost, though, you just get a bit of a mess since the amount a given person is paying for infrastructure can vary wildly and you end up having to field requests like this. Even here, they make a somewhat arbitrary distinction between users who do feed to the grid and those who don't (who presumably also use less power but just aren't easy to identify). Just break out the two items and call it a day.

some people are just pain negative (0)

peter303 (12292) | about 4 months ago | (#46809931)

They punish a technology out of idealogy rather than economics.

Re:some people are just pain negative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810165)

At least Solar, Wind, and Storage will win...

Koch Brothers (5, Informative)

hondo77 (324058) | about 4 months ago | (#46809967)

Perhaps this is all a part of the vast right-wing conspiracy against green energy [salon.com] . Can't let the hippies win!

Re:Koch Brothers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810209)

Bad policy always losses to the Free Market...Solar is winning...

Shortsighted stupidity (3, Insightful)

haruchai (17472) | about 4 months ago | (#46809983)

Oklahoma has some fantastic wind & solar resources and adjoins the Texas Panhandle where there are many wind turbines and therefore a reasonable transmission infrastructure.
Even if they didn't need the wind & solar, Texas can make very good use of it. They should be investing in those resources and they could probably get Texas to pay for a big chunk of it.

Re:Shortsighted stupidity (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 4 months ago | (#46810001)

Meant to say "investing much more heavily in those resources and streamlining the process instead of introducing more obstacles"

Re:Shortsighted stupidity...NOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46810151)

It isn't short-sighted. They watched the big Telcos charge Netflix a trumped up access fee for their video streaming business and thought they could use the same strategy--charge a specific group more than anyone else for the same product. Makes good sense in a Government-Regulated Industry.

It will fun to watch and see if they charge vacationers more for each KW use by their house when to usage rate is lower.

Re:Shortsighted stupidity (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 4 months ago | (#46810417)

Oklahoma has some fantastic wind & solar resources

Especially when the wind comes sweepin' down the plain. Plen'y of air and plen'y of room, plen'y of room to swing a rope! Plen'y of heart and plen'y of hope!

.

Keeping Our Priorities Straight (5, Funny)

organgtool (966989) | about 4 months ago | (#46810093)

As this threat to growth becomes more evident, investors will become less attracted to investments in the utility sector.

It's about time that power companies realize that their most important goal is not in providing customers with a quality source of electricity, but in making investors as much money as possible.

Generating your own electricity .. (1)

DTentilhao (3484023) | about 4 months ago | (#46810159)

"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"

How does generating your own electricity subsidize other customers? Isn't this just a way of the utilities to gouge more revenue out of people who use less of their expencive electricity.

Re:Generating your own electricity .. (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#46810245)

I guess if you generate more than what you consume, you pay nothing. You pay nothing towards the maintenance of the power grid but enjoy the benefit of effectively using it as a battery of infinite capacity. The utilities still need to provision capacity for your peak demand, when the sun goes down and you turn on your oven, stove, hot water cylinder and electric heating all at once in winter, pulling up to 10kW, the same time as everyone else in your area.

You're billing wrong. (4, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#46810215)

Do Oklahoma power companies not charge separately for connectivity and power consumption?

I thought it was common sense to be charged a fixed daily rate and an additional rate per kWh.
The fixed rate is supposed to pay for transmission lines, maintenance, billing, customer support etc. The kWh rate pays for generation.

See also cancer drugs. (0)

ourlovecanlastforeve (795111) | about 4 months ago | (#46810225)

"If fewer people are dying from cancer pharmaceutical companies will make less money, so fewer people will invest. Lets let more people die from cancer so big pharma can continue to profit."
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>