So, I’ve been getting into with a commentator, “Dig Deeper“, in a comments stream below an article on TransportEvolved.Com comparing hydrogen fuel cell cars to EVs. “Dig Deeper’s” been pushing the typical EVs and solar are too expensive, innefficient, etc. compared to a centralized fueling/electricity system argument.
“Dig Deeper” thinks he’s right about hydrogen, about EVs, and about the top-down, centralized utility model being “cheaper”, more “efficient” and “better.”
I think he’s wrong on all counts. And and he seems to think I’m an idiot for not thinking the way he does — “do your research”, “I don’t think you understand” and “the reality is…” are the way he frames his comments. I find this to be patronizing — you can make an argument against EVs, against rooftop solar, etc. without having to insult the intelligence of your opponent.
In any case, he seems to think all EV-heads are pretty much idiots.
So goes it in internet article comment streams, where, perhaps in the entire 15-year history of online comment streams, three people have actually been persuaded by an opponent to switch their views on something 😉
Lucky for me, and not so lucky for “Dig Deeper”, big, centralized utilities, much like those big, fat, centralized media, music and film companies who ended up succumbing to the distributive power of the internet and had to change their business models, are going to succumb to the “internetization” of energy.
And, no, I’m not just some random, out there, “green wackjob” who’s throwing out claims coming out of nowhere. Here are a couple of articles written by experts on just this topic — and they’re prediciting the death of the traditional utility as well –>
- The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy (By Standford Guy, in Washington Post)
- Let’s celebrate, not lament, renewables’ disruption of electric utilities (Rocky Mountain Institute)
- How solar could slay the fossil fuel empire by 2030 (By Stanford guy, on Motherboard.vice.com)
Basically, “Dig Deeper” appears to be against any movement to democratization of power production — all essentially based upon the faulty claim that it is “too expensive”. Of course, he doesn’t employ True Cost Economics, which takes into account the back-end costs produced by fossil fuel pollution, but, hey, virtually no one arguing that argues vehemently in favor of fossil fuels over renewables considers True Cost Economics).
Utilities will need to step aside and get out of the business of producing energy and focus just on being carriers of that energy (natural gas lines, grid lines, sub-stations, etc.). In this sense, they will become like cable companies, who, for the most part do not produce the content (energy), but distribute it.
Here’s my latest comment to “Dig Deeper”. Enjoy — and Happy New Year!
Dear “Dig Deeper“,
What I am saying is that the future is made up of micro-grids, renewables, locally distributed and produced and consumed energy and the internetization of energy. And that future is here within a decade. That spells a lot trouble for utilities that don’t adapt (like Xcel here in Colorado, which is trying desperately to hold on to the old model that’s more than 100 years old). Of course it will cost the early adopters more, but the costs are falling, falling, falling. I want to be a part of the social force driving those costs down, even if it costs me more.
Of course, funny thing is, I’m NOT paying more. I’m paying less. In fact, I paid $1.42 per watt out of pocket for my 5.6 kW home solar system here in Xcel Energy country in Colorado. That’s just $8,000 — $10,000 when you add an inverter replacement in at 15 years — for 30 years of electricity. That’s $333 per year — for a solar system that powers my home 100 percent AND 12,000 miles of gas-free driving a year in my electric vehicle100 percent.
My Nissan LEAF costs me $290 per month (this includes taxes, etc. though not insurance). That’s not bad — certainly not prohibitively expensive, as you would imply. I could get a Nissan Sentra for $290 per month, but I’d have to dish out hundreds in gas money, oil changes, maintenance, every month etc. The only things I’ve done on my LEAF in 11 months — one tire rotation for $10, and two bottles of windshield fluid for $3 each. That’s it.
Sure, a home battery pack (I’d like to have a home battery pack so I can stick it to Xcel Energy even more) will initially be costly, but those costs will come down, and I’ll be helping to undermine the utility monopoly that I find fundamentally unfair — there should not be a monopoly on anything in a free (market) society. I do not like Big Utilities because they have dragged their feet, for the most part, on renewables. Xcel wouldn’t be where it is if the voters and Colorado legislature hadn’t pushed it.
With home solar, I get to power my house, and my neighbors’ houses (during the day), the way I MYSELF want to, not the way the utility determines is best for me, or will make them the most money.
Utilities will need to step aside and get out of the business of producing energy, and focus just on being carriers of that energy (natural gas lines, grid lines, sub-stations, etc.). In this sense, they will become like cable companies, who, for the most part do not produce the content (energy), but distribute it.
May the Year 2015 usher in more and more democratization of electricity production, more rooftop solar, localized energy production, and see more and more inroads against the old, un-democratic, un-American top-down, centralized, monopolized utility model of energy production, distribution and consumption!