Utilities need to stop whining about home solar

The old model of centralized electricity production is being replaced by localized, distributive energy production — much to the dismay of large, centralized utilities, whose business model is not only outmoded, but anti-competitive and fundamentally un-American. [Flickr Creative Commons Photo By John E. Amos]
editors-blog-entry3Are you as sick and tired as I am of Big Utilities complaining about distributive rooftop solar threatening their monopolistic, centralized, and, frankly, thoroughly un-American business model?

There’s more and more talk about Big Utilities trying to undercut net-metering, a key provision that allows people like me to push extra solar we produce with our 5.59 kW system during the day back onto the grid and which requires, in our case, that our utility Xcel pay us the whopping per kWh rate of about 3 cents — compared to the 11 cents per kWh rate Xcel charges my neighbors to use the excess electricity our solar system has produced.

Home solar localizes and democratizes energy production — two things the central utility model of electricity production fails to do. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
Utilties are whining because, supposedly, homes with rooftop solar systems like ours aren’t paying our “fair share” to maintain the electric grid.

Putting aside the fact that Xcel is selling the electricity our rooftop solar system produces back to our neighbors at more than three times the rate they’re paying us to produce it, and putting aside the fact that that electricity doesn’t need to travel very far at all, how exactly is it that I’m costing Xcel, and our neighbors, extra money?

The real problem here is that Big Utilities don’t see the proverbial writing on the wall, or, actually, they do, and they don’t like what they see. What they see, and don’t like, but I really like, is the destruction of the centralized, top-down, monopolistic model of electricity production, a model, which, because it fails to offer consumers free choice, is actually fundamenally un-American.


So here’s my retort/question to Big Utilities:

So why don’t utilities accept the inevitable, get out of the power production business slowly, but surely, let the people take over power production and focus on being the power distributors rather than the power producers?

I could live with utilities as primarily distributors, and would even be happy to pay my “fair share” to maintain the grid as a system rooted in local distributed solar (including that produced by our 5.59 kW home system), wind, geothermal, etc. — if utilities would stop using distribution as a smokescreen to try to maintain their unfair and anti-competitive monopoly on electricity production.

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