As posted on NBC- "The explosive growth of solar power -- a new rooftop system was installed every four minutes in 2013 -- has utility companies pushing in several states to scale back what they call unfair rate advantages that solar users have long received.
The debate centers on net metering, which requires utility companies to credit customers for solar energy that they generate in excess of their own usage. The credits were part of financial incentives to invest in solar energy.
Policies for net metering, which is used in 43 states, vary from state to state, but most credits are set at the local retail price for electricity. That bothers utilities, which contend that the retail price is set too high, resulting in excessive credits to solar users. Utilities want credits set by wholesale prices, which are much lower than retail."
The thing utility companies are not explaining is that Solar offers many advantages over a "typical" wholesale energy purchase.
1. Solar prevents one of the most expensive aspects of electricity, transmission, according to the DOE and/or EPA the average utility losses approximately a total of 7% from power plant to your home or business. This is also a multiplied during high demand and on hot days, which happen to align pretty well with solar production and can amount for a much larger percentage. (the Math= $0.04Wholesale X 7-10% Transmission = $0.436/kWh)
2. Solar offers a great early peak energy cost carving. All utilities in the USA typically experience their largest energy demand from 11am to 4PM during the week and they charge all large users much higher rates during that time, self indicating it costs more during that time. Some times as high as 30-200% of non peak rate times. (the Math= $0.436 X demand costs factor 65% higher = $0.7194/kWh)
3. New Power plants, the government will almost always pony up for new power plants in some form or another. That amount fluctuates quite a bit and with out some interjection that is accurate we will just consider it a savings so the kWh value goes up even more.
4. Environmental benefits- Solar is a clean energy producer, some greenhouse gas emitting energy does go into making the equipment and installing it and most manufacturers and installers including the company I am president of Able Energy Co. out of River Falls, WI, practice low environmental impact installations. Solar helps offset global warming which is taking its toll on us tax payers that is requiring billions of $$$$ to help pay for clean up efforts of increased storm damage,erosion, impacts on climates in our food belts, etc.
The overall picture and something a couple States are considering is "Value of Solar" and it considers all listed above and a few other aspects associated with the overall savings solar energy provides tax payers and utilities. At the end of the day V.O.S. will come in around 125% of Net Metering. The utilities are fighting this proposition, not because it doesn't actually add up, but because it is the beginningof the end of their Monopoly. In the future you will have the choice of your energy and that scares the utility companies.
In Minnesota Solar was just ruled on by a judge that indicated large scale solar is now a cheaper option to a natural gas fired power plant. That is a huge victory for solar as it is getting cheaper than some of our cheaper energy sources and its done with a substantially smaller impact to our climate and earth. When silicon is taken from just one ton of sand, and used in photovoltaic power panels, the silicon can produce as much electricity as 500,000 tons of burning coal.
At the end of the day solar will be far cheaper than our traditional sources of energy and you will have the choice. I see the finish line in my lifetime as one that has the public owning the poles and wires and your will be able to choose your energy source, after all, in a country so in trenched in capitalism, what could be more American than having a choice. Look at what cell phones did to the phone companies, that's what the future of your electricity looks like!