Oklahoma will charge homeowners who generate their own power

posted at 3:01 pm on April 20, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

A disturbing story out of the Sooner State this week, noted by Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. Under the terms of a recently passed bill, expected to be signed by Governor Mary Fallin, homeowners who install their own private solar or wind turbine energy resources and sell some of the juice back to energy companies will be paying a fee for the privilege.

Utility customers who want to install rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines could face extra charges on their bills after legislation passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday.

Senate Bill 1456 passed 83-5 after no debate in the House. It passed the Senate last month and now heads to Gov. Mary Fallin for her approval.

The bill was supported by the state’s major electric utilities, but drew opposition from solar advocates, environmentalists and others. It sets up a process at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to establish a separate customer class and monthly surcharge for distributed generation such as rooftop solar or small wind turbines.

As Doug notes, the claimed reasons for the energy companies and their surrogates (who are behind the move) wanting these fees imposed are weak tea at best.

While I suppose there might be an argument for allowing utilities to recoup costs that are legitimately incurred from the practice of selling energy back to the grid, the idea of charging people extra for doing something that reduces their dependence on the grid while at the same time increasing the amount of energy available seems rather nonsensical. As the linked article goes on to note, these types of systems benefit energy companies by helping to reduce demand on the grid during peak hours and by increasing the amount of energy available during those periods. Given that, one would think that energy companies would want to encourage this sort of thing rather than backing measures like this which could potentiallly hamper it. It’s hard not to see this as an effort by the utility companies to hamper the competition that solar and wind generated energy provide them and, of course, to make sure that they still manage to make some money out of the deal.

There seem to be some activists who are far too quick to embrace this sort of legislation (currently on the table in a number of states) by conflating the issue with the many problems associated with the government getting involved in green energy initiatives. This is a false assertion which, in fact, runs contrary to conservative principles. It is a given that having Washington put their thumb on the scales and dump taxpayer dollars into energy technologies which are unproven or not ready for prime time has been an expensive and unmitigated failure. What this does not mean is that there is no useful application for these technologies anywhere, and small installations of solar, wind and micro-hydro generation have proven effective in private use. If you can exercise your own independence and initiative to supply your own energy, good for you! And if you can create more than you need and sell the excess for a profit, what is more conservative and capitalist than that?

Further, a resourceful person should be preparing to manage and maintain their own energy supplies. As both Erika and I have warned repeatedly, rafts of new regulations from Barack Obama’s EPA and pressure from eco-warriors is moving us toward potentially crippling shortages of energy on the grid. If enough coal fired plants are shut down prematurely, you may not be able to simply take it for granted that the lights will come on when you throw the switch some morning. People willing to make the investment in producing their own energy – as well as spreading the extra around – should be encouraged, not subjected to discouraging fees.

Besides, the total amount of power created by private distributed generation is miniscule compared to the total supply and demand on the grid. This is a giant using a shotgun to go after mosquitoes. So how do rules like this make their way into law? I’ll leave Doug with the last word on that one.

Of course, measures like this have nothing to do with “free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty” and everything to do with crony capitalism.

Yep.


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…and this surprises you? Of course, they are going to get all of us no matter what we do. Throw all the bums out every election and then we might have a chance. Otherwise is just status quo with more status every year being added to the quo!

Hobbes on April 20, 2014 at 6:02 PM

There are always tradeoffs.

LeftCoastRight on April 20, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Absolutely. Inverters or choppers for anything requiring AC.

It’s a much different world from the days when Nikola Tesla could routinely blow out the Boulder power station and nobody noticed or cared!

viking01 on April 20, 2014 at 6:05 PM

No, he’s got an indoor boiler (very complex) safely tucked inside the new house he’s building. The solar arrays will be for electricity only.

Del Dolemonte on April 20, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Ok. Now you’ve got me. I was looking into those. What benefit, though, unless he can draw his hot water off the same system? Does he?

Thanks for the info, btw.

WryTrvllr on April 20, 2014 at 6:06 PM

The best way to win the small scale power game is hydroelectric but then the snail darter hippies and their EPA whores will be after you.

viking01 on April 20, 2014 at 6:10 PM

We are the American people and we must be destroyed. What else makes sense?

Mojave Mark on April 20, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Shouldn’t individuals and entities that generate solar power be responsible for some of the costs of load balancing? If not them who should bear these upfront and ongoing costs? The problem with solar and wind, whether it’s on your roof or or is a large corporate owned installation, is that there has to be equal generating capacity built and running at the same time. As soon as clouds obscure the sun or the wind dies down them some other generating source has to instantaneously pick up the load. Consequently for every kilowatt of alternative power there has to be a conventional power generator built, manned and online to balance the fluctuations of the alternative power.

Viator on April 20, 2014 at 3:18 PM

This. Wind energy has been hell on the coal fired plant I live 3 miles from. They have a heck of a time load balancing and it is hard on the plant.

boomer on April 20, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Customers feeding power back to the grid are, in effect, using the grid as a giant battery.

If the meter is simply allowed to run forward and backward as power flows or out- the customer is in effect, getting a huge battery for free. That’s not fair. To other consumers paying full price.

If the meter is ratcheted so it can only move forward, the customer is feeding back power to the utility that it isn’t paying for, and selling it to other customers. Since the utility is limited to how much in percentage it is allowed to make, if a whole lot of customers did this, they would be subsidizing their neighbor’s bills as rates were reduced. More fair in that the customer is now paying something for use of the grid battery.

Another way- install two meters- one to read power in, one to read power out. Power in at usual rates, power out to utility applied to the bill at utility’s cost of production. The most expensive option for the utility, as it requires more bookkeeping, more equipment and labor. But the customer should then have to pay 2 meter fees, as he would have 2 meters.

Then there is the safety factor. A customer feeding back to the grid has to ensure that if there is no grid power available- THAT NO POWER IS FED TO THE GRID. A lineman attempting to repair a broken transmission line isolated from the upstream grid is in for a very nasty surprise if John Q. Public suddenly feeds back power the other way. This is why grid feedback is checked and approved by utilities. You start feeding back without safety features- you’re going to kill someone.

If you produce AND STORE your own energy, the government sould have nothing to do with it. (Aside from local building codes and NEC as applicabble.) When you start feeding power to the grid, licensing agencies are going to get involved. And should.

As far as people investing their own money in wind and solar and feding it back- few do. They use OPM. A few years back I read a story about a fellow New Yorker whose wind turbine cost only $5000, and was already producing dividends for him. It cost over $30,000. $5000 of his money, and as I see it, $25,000 of mine and my neighbor’s money in subsidies. He had the $30,000 up front, and therefore got to use a dollar here and a dollar there that belonged to the rest of us, so we could subsidize his electricity. The turbine would not have been put ip if he had to absorb the real $30,000 it cost.

gospace on April 20, 2014 at 6:17 PM

Of course, measures like this have nothing to do with “free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty” and everything to do with crony capitalism fascism.

Kenosha Kid on April 20, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Swamp coolers.

BobMbx on April 20, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Thanks, will check into it.

WryTrvllr on April 20, 2014 at 5:47 PM

I’ve never used those but Rush Limbaugh spent one morning a year or so ago bemoaning the “lean” years when where he lived used those.

From what I’ve read evaporative cooling needs a dry (low humidity) environment to work properly so if you’re literally in the heart of the swamp you’d be sweating with the ‘gators waiting for it to work.

viking01 on April 20, 2014 at 5:56 PM

I once lived in Phoenix in houses that used ‘swamp coolers’. Humidity must be low for any comfort without too much humidity in the house, but even then you must drip as little water as possible. Mildew and corrosion builds up in the unit rather quickly and the filters must be changed regularly. Bread and other food stuffs mildew much quicker because of the higher humidity in the house. And cockroaches just love the wetter climate.

When I moved to a house with real A/C I must say the extra expense was well worth it.

TfromV on April 20, 2014 at 6:27 PM

williamg on April 20, 2014 at 5:58 PM

I did not read this. In light of your comments and attitude I’m not sure you are to be trusted.

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 6:32 PM

gospace on April 20, 2014 at 6:17 PM

So, with that in mind, what do you think a Schott 220 watt solar panel should cost, if there were no .gov subsidies whatsoever?

WryTrvllr on April 20, 2014 at 6:33 PM

…likely a result of federal regulations.

TX-96 on April 20, 2014 at 6:34 PM

Go Galt, or go broke. Time to stop playing by ‘their rules’.

Talismen on April 20, 2014 at 6:34 PM

From the beginning, utility companies have been evil.

They have a local monopoly.

The state utility commissions are to protect the consumer, but often become co-opted by the utility companies and their armies of lobbyists.

The utility companies corrupt the state utility commissions and the state legislatures.

slp on April 20, 2014 at 6:46 PM

TfromV on April 20, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Thanks for your input which will be valuable to any considering those.

I’ve always lived where air conditioning was the usual option and fortunate not to have had to try alternatives.

viking01 on April 20, 2014 at 6:51 PM

Not surprising, but just for argument also throw in that all that ‘extra’ energy suddenly goes away when the sun stops shinning and the utilities have to fire up conventional generators. The load on electrical lines needs to be constantly monitored. Input must meet demand. Otherwise you face ‘power failure’.

The local utility just hired a professor at the local university to create an early warning system (1 hour lead time) to forecast when cloud formations were approaching the area.

But, of course, the green weenies have nothing to do with creating that problem.

GarandFan on April 20, 2014 at 6:55 PM

No, he’s got an indoor boiler (very complex) safely tucked inside the new house he’s building. The solar arrays will be for electricity only.

Del Dolemonte on April 20, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Ok. Now you’ve got me. I was looking into those. What benefit, though, unless he can draw his hot water off the same system? Does he?

Thanks for the info, btw.

WryTrvllr on April 20, 2014 at 6:06 PM

Yes, he will be using the solar arrays for hot water as well.

As I said, he is way off the grid; almost a mile in from the nearest power pole. But his “site” is almost 100 acres with over 1,000 on a beautiful small NH pond. Previously, he had a seasonal cottage as well as a newer garage with an apartment above; both were powered by a traditional gas-fired electrical generator, but that was not enough, so he tore down the garage and started over from scratch.

Del Dolemonte on April 20, 2014 at 6:57 PM

If this is a problem that requires this solution then the power grid is near collapse, isn’t it?

How many generations have the companies had to figure out a technical solution to this? At least two if not three. Why is this a problem now? And why is this the solution?

For their regulated profit the companies could have it lowered by 0.01% and told to fix this with no added cost to the taxpayers. Once a solution is found they get their 0.01% back. That ought to hire at least one person to just find a solution to the problem, no?

And, hey, how about hardening the damned grid while you’re at it instead of trying to hit up the taxpayer for generating power and showing a bit of self-sufficiency? If you need THIS sort of bill to protect the grid, then the grid is in a real sorry state. Got all the production facilities ready to cut off from a CME? We’ve missed 6 good sized ones in the last year as the low number of sunspots seems to be putting more of them on the equator of the sun.

Ready for that long-line feedback coming into your plants that isn’t AC and has the entire length of the wire to let it get a nice current through the infrastructure? I mean the people putting energy back in have to get it into phase and all that fun stuff… the sun doesn’t care about that. If you have to worry about the piddly stuff the little guy is trying to do to help out, then heaven help you when the sun decides to give us a Carrington Event for a few days to a week.

Say have you got enough replacement transformers in cold storage to replace the ones you aren’t bothering to protect in case a good sized CME hits Rock 3 from the Star Sol?

I, the taxpayer, would be willing to fork over a few nickels a year to help out on that so long as you hit up everyone else for it, too. You know, actually protect the damned grid and safeguard it from natural events that we know will happen sooner or later? Or is that too much to ask of our utility companies? Safeguard one of the primary systems that allows us a modern, technical civilized life. I’m willing to fork over a bit for that and when you multiply a couple of nickels a year by all the users of the system, you suddenly got some real cash to start thinking about… cash that wouldn’t be for regulated profits but to actually do something useful beyond trying to figure out how to deal with a few people trying to help. Why not just tell them to knock it off and avoid taxing them? Then you could do your actual job of figuring out how to harden and protect the system.

Or is THAT out of the question?

ajacksonian on April 20, 2014 at 6:57 PM

Obama’s plan has always been to cripple business. He thinks everyone should work for the government. So he creates a problem and then has the government come in to solve it.

MrX on April 20, 2014 at 7:08 PM

Make the load balancing the end user/small producer’s responsibility instead of charging for it.

S. D. on April 20, 2014 at 7:08 PM

Customers feeding power back to the grid are, in effect, using the grid as a giant battery.

If the meter is simply allowed to run forward and backward as power flows or out- the customer is in effect, getting a huge battery for free. That’s not fair. To other consumers paying full price.

gospace on April 20, 2014 at 6:17 PM

I disagree. Customers feeding back power are no more using the grid as a battery than any other customer. If you go turn on an appliance you pull more power off the grid. If you crank up the AC you draw even more. Someone with a home energy setup is no different in that respect. He does occasionally not draw at all, and sometimes sells back, but every customer uses the grid as a battery.

Economist on April 20, 2014 at 7:14 PM

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM

He could simply have answered you question.

viking01 on April 20, 2014 at 5:51 PM

viking01 is correct.

I could have and SHOULD have just answwered your question.

Sometimes, after nearly 35 years in the utility industry making electrical power in a regulatory environment that does not understand physics and in an industry so heavily-regulated that it is Far from a “free market” capitalism as someone else here pointed out — I get bitter.

I let the Grumpy take me over.

My apologies – that is wrong and untoward. Note I did answer your question above……same answer as viking01 gave, just a few more words.

My apologies.

williamg on April 20, 2014 at 7:15 PM

Yes, they call it the Sooner State because the residents would sooner live in Texas than remain in Oklahoma.

Texas Zombie on April 20, 2014 at 7:22 PM

My apologies.

williamg on April 20, 2014 at 7:15 PM

Accepted.

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Also, I realize that no one is required to answer any questions thrown out.

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:25 PM

This is no different than people buying more efficient cars to avoid the high cost of gas, due partially (probably mostly) to it’s over taxation.

What’s the Govt do? implements a mileage tax.

Of course the tax on mileage will in no way reduce the taxes on gas.

It’s amazing the amount of double, triple, and quadruple dipping the govt does into our pockets by taxing the same things from multiple angles.

Is there anything the govt doesn’t have some sort of taxes or fees on?

Oxymoron on April 20, 2014 at 7:27 PM

Doug Mattaconis is an idiot. Anything he says should be taken with.an extreme grain of salt. And that goes even more so for Jazz “weenie” Shaw. Jazz is too much of a weenie to even be considered a rino. He’s a leftist.

I notice some conservatives took the bait. They want to holler and scream that OK state legislature is a sellout to crony capitalism, when this bill actually prevents “crony capitalism” on the part of the enviro-zealots, who are trying to get rich off the back of the taxpayer.

Raquel Pinkbullet on April 20, 2014 at 7:28 PM

What’s up with all that?

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Don’t know if you ever got your question answered or not but the answer is, in a word, Yes, but out of the price range of the average citizen. Probably not in the way you were thinking of storage either. Here’s a link to how the utility I worked for stored the energy produced by our nuclear units in low load times so they didn’t have to load follow. The power produced actually costs more to produce than it’s sold for but it allows the base load units to run at full capacity almost all the time to make it economically viable. Load following a large nuke plant is a real nightmare. We were all really happy when this thing came on line.

Oldnuke on April 20, 2014 at 7:31 PM

And you know who else Is calling for a veto on this bill? The Sierra Club and the league of conservation voters.

Anything supported by these far left wealth distribution hucksters, I am firmly opposed to.

Any conservative on the side of these zealots should reconsider, before they embarrass themselves aby further.

Raquel Pinkbullet on April 20, 2014 at 7:33 PM

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:34 PM

What’s the Govt do? implements a mileage tax.

Oxymoron on April 20, 2014 at 7:27 PM

In Virginia and several other states they’ve taken it one step further. If you own a hybrid or electric car they charge you an annual $60 fee to offset your not buying gasoline and paying the gas tax.

Oldnuke on April 20, 2014 at 7:34 PM

This is crony capitalism at its worst. The pittance the electric company earns from power generated and contributed to the grid by homeowners with solar panels and turbines is nothing compared to the profits they earn by keeping everyone 100% dependent on commercially generated energy. The public utilities don’t care about what is environmentally friendly; they don’t care about savings; they don’t want homeowners generating their own power. They want to maximize revenue, and the only way to do that is discourage people from generating their own power. Sadly, democrats and republicans alike, dependent on campaign contributions, will do the utilities bidding regardless of what is economically or environmentally feasible.

ThePainfulTruth on April 20, 2014 at 7:35 PM

Oldnuke on April 20, 2014 at 7:31 PM

I saw something like that near Chattanooga (IIRC), but I don’t really remember much about it.

I ran across the concept when trying to Bing an answer to my question. Probably not something feasible for a gulch.

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:40 PM

viking01. Thanks for your input.

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:41 PM

viking01. Thanks for your input.

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:41 PM

No problem. I’m always trying to learn new things too.

Sometimes QOTD has some really interesting technology discussions especially when the topic is Chris Christie (rimshot).

viking01 on April 20, 2014 at 7:46 PM

ConstantineXI on April 20, 2014 at 5:15 PM

I figured batteries were the way to go, but with the liabilities you mentioned and their initial cost, I wonder if someone had developed a capacitor that would be effective.

Use to you could find old batteries laying around most everywhere. Many of them could be reclaimed with distilled water and Epsom salts.

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:46 PM

I wondered if maybe someone …

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:47 PM

Oldnuke on April 20, 2014 at 7:31 PM

I saw something like that near Chattanooga (IIRC), but I don’t really remember much about it.

I ran across the concept when trying to Bing an answer to my question. Probably not something feasible for a gulch.

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Not really. This thing is only good for load balance and your average home can’t really be set up to do that. Utilities can do it because they can vary generation by having their generating units pick up and drop load as necessary.

Oldnuke on April 20, 2014 at 7:47 PM

viking01. Thanks for your input.

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:41 PM

No problem. I’m always trying to learn new things too.

Sometimes QOTD has some really interesting technology discussions especially when the topic is Chris Christie (rimshot).

viking01 on April 20, 2014 at 7:46 PM

Like how to make donuts more efficiently?

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:48 PM

I notice some conservatives took the bait. They want to holler and scream that OK state legislature is a sellout to crony capitalism, when this bill actually prevents “crony capitalism” on the part of the enviro-zealots, who are trying to get rich off the back of the taxpayer.

Raquel Pinkbullet on April 20, 2014 at 7:28 PM

This bill does not prevent cronyism. It simply makes the power generators the beneficiaries of cronyism rather than the usual “green energy” beneficiaries of cronyism. It’s still out and out cronyism to pass industry favored legislation that penalizes individuals who choose to exert their individual liberty and live independent of the conventional power grid. It’s kind of absurd to say this isn’t cronyism when it quite clearly is.

Texas Zombie on April 20, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Like how to make donuts more efficiently?

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 7:48 PM

… and how to wolf down a box of 12 without blocking the view of the TV or monitor.

I’ll bet Moochelle has adapted her methods for taxpayer lobster.

viking01 on April 20, 2014 at 7:59 PM

it’s not crony capitalism… it’s electrical engineering.

distributed electricity generation is much more costly than single plan generation.

simply it costs money, namely; insurance risks that cause outages, equipment to connect, monitor, protect said connection, people cost to do aforementioned.

and BTW what do you do with the electrical power when it’s not needed?? gets shunted into the ground, over voltage is worse than brown outs.

mathewsjw on April 20, 2014 at 8:21 PM

gospace on April 20, 2014 at 6:17 PM

So, with that in mind, what do you think a Schott 220 watt solar panel should cost, if there were no .gov subsidies whatsoever?

WryTrvllr on April 20, 2014 at 6:33 PM

About $543 each, bought in lots of 30, without wireing or mounting hardware according to a quick google search. And you shouldn’t receive any subsidy for buying and installing them.

gospace on April 20, 2014 at 8:32 PM

If you like distributed generation, you’re really gonna like distributed storage. What’s not to love about a stack of large, expensive lead-acid batteries in every garage, especially when they wear out in (let’s say) 10 years? Of course the green cronies profit! But “Smart Power” means not considering unintended consequences — just act smug, feel good and pivot! Next?

Kenosha Kid on April 20, 2014 at 8:39 PM

About $543 each, bought in lots of 30, without wireing or mounting hardware according to a quick google search. And you shouldn’t receive any subsidy for buying and installing them.

gospace on April 20, 2014 at 8:32 PM

I didn’t, and I don’t. But I only paid about 250.00 per panel. Lots of 12 at a time. My understanding, at the time, was that the cheap price was because Europe, Spain in particular, was giving up on turning olive plantations into solar farms.

Like I said. I just play by the rules. I don’t make them.

But we still need to maintain a grid.

WryTrvllr on April 20, 2014 at 8:41 PM

If you like distributed generation, you’re really gonna like distributed storage. What’s not to love about a stack of large, expensive lead-acid batteries in every garage, especially when they wear out in (let’s say) 10 years? Of course the green cronies profit! But “Smart Power” means not considering unintended consequences — just act smug, feel good and pivot! Next?

Kenosha Kid on April 20, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Won’t happen. They generate too much CO. But, then again, they gave us mercury light bulbs.

WryTrvllr on April 20, 2014 at 8:42 PM

Well at least the panels themselves are ecologically responsible and sustainable and blah blah blah

Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water.

OK ok so there are byproducts, but at least the panels themselves are clean, right? What could be cleaner than electricity made by sunshine :)

many solar panels contain lead and cadmium, which are being phased out by computer manufacturers, is no small matter. In the coming years, SVTC estimates that 1.5 billion pounds of solar panel waste containing 2 million pounds of lead and 600,000 pounds of cadmium will be disposed of in California alone.

It can’t be true! but it was published in Mother Jones, oh dear, what to do?

Kenosha Kid on April 20, 2014 at 8:55 PM

There is a transaction cost for everything. If people want to set themselves up as businesses which sell electricity, they will find that they have to bear some sort of transaction cost in the process. Being they only have one customer, and it is a regulated market, the government will need to see that they are not getting over charged, but it wont be cost free.

Take it a step further. All the solar panel producers in a neighborhood join together in a co-op and negotiate a price.

percysunshine on April 20, 2014 at 9:00 PM

A good example of people from all spectrums of political beliefs being able to agree on something, I think.

KMC1 on April 20, 2014 at 9:03 PM

Where does the IRS stand on this?

People are running businesses out of their homes selling electricity. The Fed is going to want their cut….and the paperwork…and forms … and OSHA will be interested in the safety factors…and…

percysunshine on April 20, 2014 at 9:10 PM

The bill was supported by the state’s major electric utilities, but drew opposition from solar advocates, environmentalists and others

…oh my gosh!…I’m aligning my self this time…with these ^ folks?

KOOLAID2 on April 20, 2014 at 9:34 PM

I once lived in Phoenix in houses that used ‘swamp coolers’. Humidity must be low for any comfort without too much humidity in the house, but even then you must drip as little water as possible. Mildew and corrosion builds up in the unit rather quickly and the filters must be changed regularly. Bread and other food stuffs mildew much quicker because of the higher humidity in the house. And cockroaches just love the wetter climate.

When I moved to a house with real A/C I must say the extra expense was well worth it.

TfromV on April 20, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Same here lived there with swamp coolers. In August it would be 115 outside generally 95 inside very uncomfortable. The breeze made it feel cooler if near a vent. But the rest of the very long spring, summer and fall it mostly worked very well. Kept it below 80 most of the time inside.

We changed the filters perhaps twice a year and put in an anode once a year to keep the corrosion down. The pump seldom lasted a year.

In Denver also had one for 20 years it worked great there. Would have never gone air conditioning. It almost always kept the house down to 75. Less maintenance changed filters yearly anode and pump every two or three years. Far cheaper than Air conditioning.

Only works in dry climates and works better at higher elevations. Used in Boise Idaho and Wyoming as well.

Steveangell on April 20, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Fact is this charge makes sense. Power can not be depended on with these solar or wind units. Thus when it is needed the most gas turbines are used. At a minimum the rate they get back should be less than the rate they pay.

Solar and Wind are neither a very workable solution. Turbines take time to get up to steam. Wind and Solar comes and goes. Until there is a better way to store power these systems make little sense and only work at all because of federal and state handouts.

Steveangell on April 20, 2014 at 10:12 PM

Take it a step further. All the solar panel producers in a neighborhood join together in a co-op and negotiate a price.

percysunshine on April 20, 2014 at 9:00 PM

You can actually do that in some states. Utilities call them NUGs, non utility generators. Usually they are co-ops that band together to build a rather larger generating plant but I suppose you could do the same with solar panels and windmills. But be aware price is not the only thing that’s negotiable. You’ll have to contract to sell a certain amount of generation in a set time period for a set price. If, for some reason you can’t fulfill your contract then the utility will buy it from another supplier at the going rate and charge the co-op for it. It only takes a few hours of peak power to bankrupt most NUGs and they don’t accept excuses like my generator broke down or it’s cloudy or the wind stopped blowing. It’s not a road I’d go down.

Oldnuke on April 20, 2014 at 10:26 PM

“If you can exercise your own independence and initiative to supply your own energy, good for you! And if you can create more than you need and sell the excess for a profit, what is more conservative and capitalist than that?”

What incompetent wrote this article? Let me guess, Jazz Shaw, whoever that is, never studied business or economics and struggled with high school math.

Those leeches using solar and home wind turbines will be independent as soon as they stop drawing power from the grid at night and on cloudy/windless days and stop using subsidies to pay for the units. Until then, they are leeches profiting from our taxes and from our electrical payments to build and keep the grid in balance.

Over50 on April 20, 2014 at 10:38 PM

Charge them for ‘WHAT’?! What utter B$!

Charge you for the energy they provide & charge you for the business their losing?! Everyone is out to make as much money as possible, even if it means $crewing their friends and neighbors as hard as they can! AGAIN, what utter B$!

easyt65 on April 20, 2014 at 10:53 PM

The reason is very simple: MONEY. You see, governments get a CUT out of every dollar you spend to be on the grid, which is money they DONT GET if you generate your own power, supply your own water and sewage services, etc.

ConstantineXI on April 20, 2014 at 4:50 PM

And that is why we have the problems we do. PUC’s are government created monopolies/oligarchies. The government (state and fed) lose big, money and ultimately power by having people “off grid”. Hard to control people these days if they have their own power, if they are independent and self-reliant. Cheap, efficient energy upsets a lot of apple carts.

This problem with distribution etc. is a government created solution to a government created problem. One of the original selling points to get people into solar was selling it back and thus making the panels pencil out quicker (or at all). Solar is great but its not the final answer for most people and it will never get there with handouts like Solyndra making things worse or this sell back system.

The people complaining about this have every right to complain, and lobby for their cut of the take, just as the energy companies/gov are. Of course, gov will win in the end. End the crony capitalism subsidies and the electricity buy back programs and let solar sink or swim on its own. Its almost 2015 and I don’t see a Mr. Fusion machine on the horizon… maybe if there was an actual free market for competition we’d see something better.

Or we could just close more coal plants and hydro plants because like global warming or something.

oryguncon on April 20, 2014 at 11:09 PM

To quote the (sadly liberal) game reviewer Angry Joe: “Why? Because f*** you give me your money!”

evergreen on April 21, 2014 at 1:09 AM

I don’t know the details in OK, but something similar recently passed here in AZ. If I recall the numbers correctly, it was estimated that non-solar customers subsidize distribution system costs to the tune of $100 per solar customer per year. Until battery technology improves, customers with solar systems still need to be connected to the grid.

azblondie on April 21, 2014 at 1:13 AM

It’s about time that the so-called “renewable” advocating know-nothings pay their fair share of the costs and quit living off subsidies stolen from power users, taxpayers, and companies which produce real, usable, dependable power.

Windmills are a money-loser. They don’t last long enough to ever pay back their initial cost, and the erratic and unscheduled power they produce does more harm than good to our electric grid. Solar is even worse…and is a complete joke economically. Without subsidies, both of these technologies would quickly die off. And without these government-mandated, inefficient and hugely disruptive technologies, our electric bills would go DOWN and the reliability of the grid would greatly improve for all of us.

There is a reason people quit using windmills 100 years ago: it’s just hard to convince liberals to do their homework and learn why.

landlines on April 21, 2014 at 3:00 AM

They’re double dipping.

They under pay for power provided by people already on this basis so on top of that taking a fee for connecting them is a bit rich.

One or the other would seem reasonable. Both is excessive.

Karmashock on April 21, 2014 at 4:25 AM

While I don’t agree with any more fees or charges set up by a state, if you want to use the power for yourself, the power company should have no say in it, but they should not be obligated to pay for the infrastructure so that you can sell your excess power back. Who told you that spending all that money on Solar panels for your roof was going to make your energy cheaper? It sounds like the power industry is ripe for some competition on this point, perhaps there is a broker out there, that would like to be in business with these small power entities who is not on the scene yet. You need market forces. It probably still costs the same for the power company to service your household, because it isn’t really about the atom of energy, it is about the service.

Fleuries on April 21, 2014 at 8:40 AM

Is there a cost effective way to store electrical energy?

Huge capacitors?

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Think of something even simpler… retaining water reservoir. Feeding power into the system goes to pumping water into a retaining reservoir. Release the water through generators (hydro-power) to increase output as needed. Sure it may lose something via evaporation and pump efficiency, but still…

dominigan on April 21, 2014 at 8:43 AM

There are valid economic reasons for charging those who generate their own power and sell back to the grid.

Energy, as measured by kilowatt/ or megawatt/hours, is relatively cheap. Capacity, as measured simply by kilowatts or megawatts, is not. Energy is simply a way of measuring and pricing the average amount of energy produced and consumed over a period of time. Capacity is the ability of the grid to produce energy on demand.

People selling back to the grid affect energy only and in many cases could actually be reducing the overall system capacity because with the extra energy produced by the system, overall system capacity vs energy is reduced.

This isn’t crony capitalism. It’s the reality of electrical engineering meeting economics.

This is why hydropower represents such a viable, long term solution. A dam with four turbines can run one, two or all four and it takes only minutes to crank up from one to four. Add nuclear and gas fired steam plants for maintaining energy levels, and the grid is stable, secure and reliable.

Conservative Mischief on April 21, 2014 at 8:51 AM

A second thing I want to point out, is that the headline infers that the STATE of Oklahoma is going to charge money, but really it is the power companies, and this is thru state regulation of this industry.

Now if you are in Oklahoma, you know whatever the politics are of the utility companies there, and why power costs whatever it does, and this is regulated differently in each state. Mary Fallon will not be collecting a tax from this, and I think she is being blamed as if this is a tax payable to her…can someone clarify?

The government does glom on and steal profits with taxes, but I don’t think this is the case here. Your state legislature can vote away all the current regulation of private power companies and start fresh if they want to, with more competition. I would start by ending all those taxes which go into creating TAX CREDITS for people with solar panels and TAX CREDITS for people who replace an old leaky refrigerator, we consumers pay too much for those “FREE” programs. In MA, it is called MASS SAVE. They pay someone YOUR money to do an “energy audit” on your house, like the corrupt “Next Step Living.” If you see those people coming…they are a profit making, stock market trading corporate crony, making money off the requirement that energy companies “pay for” your energy audit.

Start fresh folks.

Fleuries on April 21, 2014 at 8:53 AM

If the people are still hooked up to the grid from a power plant they should have to pay some sort of fee. Unless the amount of energy they are sending back exceeds the the fee. (no idea what that fee should be)

If their systems fail, they would probably still want electricity from the grid. Can’t get that sort of back up for free.

mmonaghan on April 21, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Thanks, auto-refresh, you just ate my comment I was in the middle of typing. Along with the recent thing of having videos ads barge in without warning, this site does seem to be quite a bit less reader-friendly than it used to be.

Dammit.

Wanderlust on April 21, 2014 at 10:20 AM

The electric utilities,are interested only in keeping you dependent on their electrical production. That’s how they make their money. Anything that they can do to discourage you from being electricity independent, they will do. Then again, on the other hand they do provide jobs to Americans, to run those production facilities.

kjatexas on April 21, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Is there a cost effective way to store electrical energy?

Huge capacitors?

davidk on April 20, 2014 at 5:09 PM

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

……study Ohm’s Law and Gauss’s Law and get back to us….

williamg on April 20, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Sooo, a unicorn with an outlet in its a$$ is not a good idea?

Nutstuyu on April 21, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Easy way to protest. Don’t sell the energy back to the utility companies. Then you won’t have to pay the fee, and the energy company will make less money. Tadaaaaaaa…….. Stupid politicians. They destroy everything that’s good.

BikerGuy57 on April 21, 2014 at 10:40 AM

This is why hydropower represents such a viable, long term solution. A dam with four turbines can run one, two or all four and it takes only minutes to crank up from one to four. Add nuclear and gas fired steam plants for maintaining energy levels, and the grid is stable, secure and reliable.

Conservative Mischief on April 21, 2014 at 8:51 AM

I came across this a while back. Doesn’t bode well for using hydroelectric as a storage solution on a REALLY large scale. Long read, but some interesting points.

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

WryTrvllr on April 21, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Great discussion – I learn a lot more about issues here than on any TV show or print-news outlet.
Thanks especially to the hands-on experienced utility folk for their input.

AesopFan on April 21, 2014 at 2:18 PM

I don’t know what the details about this charge the small producers, however I would point out:

The utility company has to maintain capacity, rolling capacity, and infrastructure to deliver electricity to its customers.

If you don’t expect the utility to keep your house lit and functioning after the sun goes down (for PV people), or when the wind slows or stops (wind people), and you can literally disconnect completely from the utility grid (assuming that is legal), then perhaps the utility should not be able to recoup costs for infrastructure in that case. By disconnect, I don’t mean flip a breaker, I mean take down the wire that connects your house to the grid. Disconnect does not mean the same as not using.

People who use battery arrays and such to store excess power, from their solar and wind generators, should understand that what they are doing on a small-scale is, in part, what the utility does on a large scale across its many customers. The same thing applies if people use a generator to supply power when the solar and wind arrays don’t.

To get back to the article, how the system handles reverse electricity flow can also help in whether this is purely a sop to the utilities or a means for them to recoup that proportionate share of the fixed infrastructure that they must maintain. In some places you get credit for whole thing ($/KWH which includes everything including infrastructure) or only the cost to generate electricity ($/KWH for generation cost). One makes everyone else pay for infrastructure and maintenance, the other does not (more or less).

Russ808 on April 21, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Of course, measures like this have nothing to do with “free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty” and everything to do with crony capitalism
————
crony capitalism =Re-thugs and their enablers.

reddmistt on April 22, 2014 at 7:48 PM

Rent seeking at its worst.

I wonder how much they’ll try to penalize these folks when they decide to go off the grid completely?

s1im on April 22, 2014 at 9:00 PM

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