Why are we blaming solar customers instead of the utilities?

Recently I’ve seen discussion of the price non-solar residences have to pay to support those who have solar panels on their rooftops. Judith Curry links to this story and here on a previous post a couple of commenters expressed their displeasure.

The conversations make it sound as though greedy rich solar power homeowners are cackling with glee because utilities are charging their poorer non-solar homeowners for some of the utility’s costs associated with dealing with solar power

And it is true that some utilities tried (and mostly failed) to tack on a surcharge for grid connections for solar. When that didn’t work they just said they would raise rates on all customers to compensate themselves for the extra work involved in measuring and paying for microgrid solar.

But that was never part of the discussion when people started putting solar on their homes. The utilities waited 30 years before bringing it up, much the same way airlines waited until deregulation before they got the bright idea of charging for luggage.

Look–do electricity rates go down when the price of fossil fuel declines? Nope. For that matter, do electricity rates ever go down? Like telephone minutes on a prepaid card that expire every month, it’s something the company thinks they can get away with.

It’s clever for utilities to blame those with solar homes for the tragedy of charging their customers higher prices. And it’s even cleverer to introduce a little class warfare into it, insinuating that the richer solar home owners are slyly gouging their poorer neighbors without solar.

But this is a decision made by the utility. For the utility. They don’t reveal their costs for dealing with microgrid electricity. They don’t reveal manhours, paperwork, bureaucracy, anything.

People who are skeptical of bureaucracy in general are all of a sudden believing this sly story. I wonder why?


2 responses to “Why are we blaming solar customers instead of the utilities?

  1. The utilities finally got tired of being hustled by solar and tired of being told to be silent. In my radio market, solar panel promoters are on the radio daily selling the tax credits and joys of the benefits of forcing the power company to buy your power.
    The solar promoters are selling to make a profit. At the expense of the tax payers and utilities. The utilities are finally seeing that it is a 0 sum game: The solar salesman’s revenue comes directly from the power company.

  2. And in our utility market, the cost surcharge on natural gas does go down on my bill if the price goes down. And up if the price goes up.

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