17 votes

Power Companies Fight to Charge for Solar Use

Utilities, Solar Companies in Fight Over Rates
By RAY HENRY and JONATHAN FAHEY, Associated Press
October 1, 2013 (AP)

Sunlight is free, but if you use it to make electricity your power company wants you to pay.

Utilities in many states say solar-friendly rate plans, conceived to promote alternative energy sources, are too generous and allow solar customers to avoid paying for the grid even though they use it.

Some power companies are proposing an extra fee for solar customers. Others are trying to roll back or block programs that allow those customers to trade the solar power they generate during sunny days for power they need from the grid during other times...

Read: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/utilities-solar-com...

Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Discussion moved up from below - going caveman vs. sustainable

The discussion towards the bottom of the current page has brought up an important, yet seldom discussed side topic. That is, "Is it better to go off-grid by lessening power use or by strengthening power supply?"

I have been on both sides of this topic at times. Sure, we can do lots of things to cut our power use (I'll add a paragraph at the bottom for lost tricks) but I have to ask "Why should we compromise if we don't have to?" The follow up question then is, "Does it have to cost so much to become energy self sustaining these days?"

In my searches, I've come to the conclusion that the commercially available options would say yes but the technical side says no.

Looking at the total power available from the sunlight hitting the average rooftop, it's easy to see that we could provide more than double our needs even at today's efficiencies. With newer technologies, we can do this within the budget of 6-7 year's power bills. We just have to be smart about it. We have to stop thinking of PV as our only option. Here's why.

Energy conversion incurs loss. Converting from light to electricity loses 85%. Converting from electricity to heat doesn't lose much, usually. Converting from electricity back to light usually incurs another 90% loss. And converting from electricity to cooling loses another big chunk (varies wildly depending on type of setup). Even converting from DC to AC loses 5-7%, but people rarely realize that 90% of all power use is actually DC. (All digital equipment internally loses 30%+ to convert it to DC for use.)

The ideal system then should minimize those conversions. For example, we should have 12 volt xboxes and phone chargers because we wouldn't lose 35% of our solar power to run them.

Another aspect often missed is that sunlight crosses a much larger spectrum of electromagnetic energy than just visible light. Our systems should make use of the UV and the IR energy as well. Solar thermal electric systems capture all this and convert it all to heat at very little loss (usually 20%). Add to that, all the waste heat in the heat to electricity conversion can be used for domestic heating and even cooling needs. This dual purpose dramatically cuts the total system losses simply by doing things intelligently.

In short, if we made the best use of what is 'already commercially possible' today, we could store heat onsite and power roughly 3 times our needs, directly from that storage. This means we wouldn't need a grid connection or battery bank for backup. That means we now have about $30k to accomplish this. A few companies are working on such a system but most are focusing on utility scale sizes. I think the residential versions are where the answer lies.

I happen to have insider knowledge of that progress and can confidently say it's fast aproaching commercialization (at around $25k). If so, it means that we no longer need to compromise on power use and can focus on going off-grid in other areas. Then we can focus on making our homes from long lasting materials like stone which can last for many generations. :)

Tricks paragraph(s):
Today's architects have lost the art of the old southern plantations to use drafting to cool a home. These 2 and 3 story homes often remained at 70-75 degrees throughout the summer by shading the south side with deciduous trees and using vented attic heat to draw in cool ground air from the north side. Obviously, this takes a larger sized home to make use of, but what's wrong with that?

Heating such a home can make use of solar thermal storage and electrical generation waste both equally well. Since this is virtually a zero loss energy supply, it only takes about 300-400 square foot of roof to supply it.

Placing a fireplace in the basement with a small fire can cause enough draft to make a difference too. Combining stored heat with this chimney can provide the balance needed to accommodate all seasons very well.

We could send 12 volts DC throughout a home without adding all new wiring or plugs, if we could change a few codes. If so AND if none of our appliances/electrical equipment had grounded neutrals, we could float the neutral power line 12 volts from the ground line. Then all we need to do is to connect the solar inverter's combined DC to it before it converts to AC. If running from grid power, we could provide a single high efficiency power supply to get 90% efficiency instead of our crappy appliance 70% ones. Doing this would even eliminate ghost loads because no more charger transformers would be drawing power when the phone isn't plugged in to it.

There's a ton more ways we can save energy by combining uses with needs but we just need to get started.

A few comments from the utility side of things.

First, my credentials, I work for a major rate regulated utility that serves the state of Iowa. Since I am not a spokesman I will not declare which one, however, I am a substation engineer, and on my floor of the building also sits the engineers who deal with distributed customer generation.

So, even here in Iowa where rooftop solar is roughly unheard of, we have several salaried engineers dedicated just to these projects full time. They comprise 25 percent of the entire system planning department. This is not a small expense, but compared to the cost of operation and maintence to the distribution system it is just peanuts. The bigger issue is how power costs are billed. Power is generated at roughly 2-3 cents per kWh on our system, and sold at various rates. Big businesses generally pay 3-5 cents per kWh for bulk power, and that price still is heavily subsidizing residential distribution. Residential rates are about 9 cents per kWh. The base connection cost on your bill does not nearly cover the cost of operations and maintenance for the distribution system. So.... As solar penetrates the market a significant portion of monies to maintain the distribution system are now gone. The way to make up for this loss is to charge distributed generating customers the real cost of connecting to the grid up front since it will not be recovered through electricity purchases. Finally, most states do a net metering on distributed generation which means that the utility is crediting at 9 cents something that is only valued at 2-3 cents per kWh.

The real solution to this issue is deregulation, and time of day rates. This would be a free market boon to small generators who could recieve something close to market spot prices on those few peak hours a year when their solar generation is coincidentally producing the most power. I suppose we can all thank FDR for this mess, as these sorts of things existed prior to his regulation of the power industry.

Just as a note for those who do not know bulk power prices can swing wildly during peak usage periods. This is because utilities are required by law to provide power at all timess if it is possible. Since most generation takes 1 hour to 1 day to bring on line this means that power prices at peak times can be hundreds or thousands of times higher than normal. So on that 105f day you might actually chose to sweat it out and slept that power to your utility at say .03x 1000 or 30 bucks per kWh rather than the normal market spot price of .03 or less per kWh. Of course I think doing this would also be a boon to solar installations as well, but that is beside the point.

Josh Brueggen
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

What this boils down to

is the question of who deserves to pay for the connection of a solar equipped customer to the grid and how much that should be. An analogy would be good to see it from the customer's side...

When a non-solar customer purchases electricity from a utility, the utility includes a few hidden costs. They add a surcharge for transmission expenses to get power from other utilities and roll that into the cost they charge. They add another surcharge for the distribution system of neighborhood transformers and power lines and even the meters on the customers' box. These charges are also rolled into the total price. As such, each customer is paying for all three - generation, transmission and distribution - as a proportion of that customer's specific use. If in one month he suddenly demands four times the power, he will pay not only four times the generation costs, but he will pay four times the tx and dx costs as well.

When a person purchases a small amount of solar, they now purchase less 'generation' but actually get charged less on all three. This isn't exactly fair to the power company when the tx and dx prices are flat fees that don't vary with use but it is the way they set up their prices so who's to argue with the free market, right? They actually make up this loss from those in the paragraph above.

When a person purchases an excess of solar, the game is changed. If a customer nets more power to the grid than from it, there's a net sale. At this point and under a standard 'swap of credits' program, their rates will pay this customer for all three, again proportional to the sale amount. When this happens, for some reason, they scream about losing profit. They say they're losing profit because those flat charges aren't covered now.

Personally, I say that if they want an aggregated system (which actually allows them to hide lots of overcharging on all customers), they have to take it on the downside equally with the upside.

However, the piece that's missing in all this is the grid's energy balance. Easily, the single largest variable expense the power company has is dealing with peaking generation. This is a form of generator that can be turned off and on rapidly and for short periods. Often its so rapid that they leave it on and spinning so it can be ramped up in seconds. Its even called spinning reserve at times.

As might be imagined, this is very expensive. It's also the majority of the price you pay and why rates climb so often.

What can reduce this cost? Mostly just solar although some 'battery' storage options exist as well. The reason is that the grid's load is highest in the afternoon and the lowest around 3 am. This means a big nuke (which can't be turned up or down very much) must only run at the night minimum and peak power must make up all the daytime margin. When solar is put onto the grid, it reduces this peak requirement and thus SHOULD cut everyone's rate dramatically.

Another benefit they are blessed with from solar is that it's more efficient. Power generated and sent long distances loses up to 7% by the time it gets to your meter. Power sent from your meter to your neighbor's meter loses nothing. This means that they have no costs for 'serving' that power. They also have less tx costs for an area with more customers because the swing of the grid is flatter. The net here is zero to them but missing from this discussion is the gaming they do on transmission lines. This happens when they lobby for a tax to have the government pay them for things like emergency transmission costs, hazard insurance and other externalities. With less sales, they have less justification for such schemes. This, combined with the peak savings, is a huge win for the people that they should actually be getting a break from. But they don't.

Most places don't credit power for later use. These actually bill full price for power purchased but buy your excess at reduced rates equal to just their generation costs. This is a big fallacy because they now get a premium on power you sent to your neighbor who paid full price even while they benefit from charging both for the transmission and distribution costs.

So, the nutshell of it is that increasing solar in an area is beneficial in many ways to the customers (both solar and traditional) but the power companies don't like their games getting turned against them.

What would really expose all of this is splitting the three costs of power and charging for them separately. This would enable all renewables and onsite generation to be paid a fair value while charging fair prices for the services that a community actually needs. In short, it opens up the free market for people to make choices that cut their costs the most. If a community is short on peaking power, they can add solar for the most bang for their buck. If the community is short on transmission capacity, they can add any form of renewable because that's going to be the most economic for them. If a factory comes to town that burdens the grid in some way or if a power plant is built that oversupplies power, the incentives will change instantly and the market can react. Gone are the behind-closed-door games that keep people from moving off fossil fuel monopolies.

You are close, but not quite correct.

The gen/ tx/ ex costs are not close to equal. Generation costs vary but coal or nuke is about 2-3 cents per kWh. Transmission losses are about 3-5 percent so about one tenth of a penny per kWh. Distribution costs are the lions share, and since they are actually subsidized by major power customers are actually 70-80 percent of the billed costs. When you over generate that power that is credited to you at face value is worth only the 2-3 cents per kWh that generation costs the utility. Even though you extra power is going to the neighbors house it is still using the distribution system that still incurs a basically fixed cost upon the utility to maintain. The point is the base meter fee you pay does not cover the cost of the distribution costs, and so your neighbors end up paying that cost. If you want the convenience of connecting to the grid you pay for that grid. If those costs aren't being carried by your power purchases they do need to come from somewhere, or your non-solar neighbor will end up paying for them, which of course means that your solar power abuses your neighbor through their power bill. Another issue is that you utility load dispatching has no idea what amount of peak power you are generating, and so cannot really consider that in their decisions about what generation to bring on line when. If you'd like to learn more feel free to contact me. I know the system is pretty Byzantine, but it is how Uncle Sam says it must be. Unless it can be brought back into a free market there is not much the utility can do. As it is, sadly enough, the utility actually gains nothing from your generation which sadly occurs basically when and where they need the power.

Josh Brueggen
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

Also close but not quite

Not all states pay full prices back to solar generation. Most pay an "avoided cost" which drops out the tx and dx portions. However, even what they pay this amount, they are benefiting from not having such high peaks on both transmission and distribution. Go check your transmission loads against their max safe current and you'll see that there's a decision looming sooner or later on when to build more. Every solar installation you connect to your grid pushes that decision out a little farther. If we had a genuine free market, this would actually get pushed out indefinitely because it's always cheaper to produce distributed power than it is to pay for auxiliary equipment that simply helps ship equally expensive power from somewhere else (not to mention at a loss).

The argument that solar causes problems because you can't predict when it comes online and when you need to generate power to cover for it, is a complete fallacy. I hate when people bring that up. If you don't know when I'm going to kick on my big table saw and rip a dozen 10 foot hard oak boards into tiny strips, how can you plan ahead for that? To the grid, there's no difference between using power and stopping the generation of the same amount of power. In all honesty, it's even better in the case of solar because the saw has power factor issues while the solar inverter has them matched very well.

And regarding that solar customers should pay for their 'extra' metering expenses and not pass them off to their neighbors, they do. When applying for a connection, they always have to pay extra fees for your labor plus disconnect switches plus any meter boxes (if duals are required). This is an enormous portion of a PV installation cost which people often don't learn of until they've pulled the trigger.

Uncle Sam may make the rules, but just like EVERY OTHER INDUSTRY, the utility companies lobby for the rules they want and use them to game the system. Trust me, I've been there and I've got a box of tee shirts.

I don't mean to mislead

Perhaps I implied that all states require net metering, they do not. Most do, some do not at all, and some require the utility to pay in a premium for distributed generation. As for the extra costs of a transfer switch....gimme a break here. The customer always is responsible for their own system, which is everything on their side of the meter. Also, a transfer switch is a drop in the bucket, maybe a few hundred bucks. Much cheaper than the cost of your panels and inverters. I'm not sure why you think such an expense is so unexpected, it is your responsibility as an individual to have a safe system to connect to a public grid. Why would anyone think that someone else would cover such a cost for them?

Josh Brueggen
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

Do you see they hypocrisy in your statement?

You said, "I'm not sure why you think such an expense is so unexpected, it is your responsibility as an individual to have a safe system to connect to a public grid."

Which effectively implied the next, "Why would anyone think that someone else would cover such a cost for them?"

I did not say I expected the utility company to pay for those costs. I expect: "The customer always is responsible for their own system, which is everything on their side of the meter."

In other words, it's none of the utility's business what I put on my side of the meter. They lobbied and got the rules set so that these expenses became mandated to every customer, simply so they can connect to the grid for purposes beyond giving the utility money. And the fearmongering that the disconnect switch (I never said transfer switch) is for safety (why not just say it's for the children!!!?) to have my system be able to be disconnected, is an outright lie. All approved inverters are already equipped with anti-islanding (per 1541, I think) so they don't need a disconnect switch.

Also, they have smart meters which can measure power in both directions, yet many still mandate the expense of dual meters, wired in with dual boxes and dual conduit and so on, because they have that power. (Pun INTENDED)

Most of thees expenses are NOT trivial. When you change heavy gauge wire in a safety box mounting outside a house or garage in the weather with certified electricians who have to get it approved by an inspector, costs soar over your implied statement that it's a few hundred bucks. I'm personally aware of one case where it totaled over a grand.

In a nutshell, the power companies, by virtue of their sanctioned monopoly, are driving the renewable/distributed generation market back to a monopoly when it has the possibility of opening up to being a fully instant free market which supports competition in all 3 areas, generation, transmission and distribution.

I see no conceivable hypocrisy in my statement.

Of course the power company has the right to make sure that what you want to connect to their system is safe. They wouldn't let you connect a dead fault to their system either. Since the power company has to meet standards regarding power quality, so do you if you want to attach to that grid...thus theya re going to want your inverter to meet certain safety standards. The disconnect switch is actually because of lines mans safety rules, there has to bea visible open in the circuit for safety sake. All of these rules are safety and quality related. Sounds to me like you want to sell dangerous unsafe power to your neighbors, and if so, and your neighbors a re okay with that then build your own distribution to them. If you want to. Be off grid, then buy some batteries and be off grid. As for dual meters, that is silly, but again it is their system, so they make the rules. At my company we would replace the meter with a bidirectional meter. My guess is they are hoping in the future to pay you the actual value of the power to them (2-3 cents per kWh ) so they want to know how much power is flowing both ways, and at what times. It really sounds like you have gotten used to some of the solar incentives that government has forced on your local utility, and now you are ticked off that they would have the chutzpah to make you have a safe system, or only want o pay you the actual value oft eh product you provide to them. You do not sound like you are championing a free market here, sounds like you want further government intervention in your favor.....

Josh Brueggen
Jack of all Trades
Precinct Commiteeman Precinct 5 Rock Island Co Illinois

Wow, you sure can't read things in context, can you?

Try this. You said we have the right to do whatever on our side, then you say you have the right to tell us how to do it safely. That's hypocrisy, plain and simple. However, I'll give you the power to say this to keep people on your side safe. In other words, I'll grant you that there should be a disconnection.

That said, you shouldn't be able to mandate what kind of disconnect - only that it's disconnected. The anti-islanding inverters (all certified inverters adhere to this standard!) do this which means no additional disconnect is required. This isn't about being safe, it's about using 'safety' as a fear-mongering word to scare people into doing more than is reasonable to be safe. Might as well go around screaming that it's for the children.

Your additional disconnect requirement is wasted additional expense mandated by a law lobbied for by your power company. Who is at fault here?

On top of that, MOST state requirements require not only an AC disconnect to break connection from the customer's house to the grid, they also require a DC disconnect to break it from the PV array to the inverter. Depending on system configuration, that's often a ludicrous redundancy that stands simply 'because its a rule'.

You think I want more government intervention? Wow, again, you're not comprehending what you're reading. I want the government OUT OF THE BUSINESS so your company can't buy them off to game renewables out of the competition. I don't see how I could have been any clearer. I think you're so biased FOR support of your company that you can't see they are major players behind the entire energy crisis (including the wars for oil). Yes, it goes that far.

If you really want to see what I want, here's a recent write-up I did of a system that I co-created a decade ago. It receives praise from engineers, unless they have a vested interest in some type of energy company. So, I challenge you to tell me if this is un-doable because of technical or safety problems or if it simply hurts the monopoly that power companies have over the people.


78 cents per watt Solar Panels.

I'm just getting started to build a home off the grid in Phoenix AZ. A friend pointed me to http://sunelec.com/ for the best price on solar panels and inverters I've found. A 10KW system with inverter is just over $10,000. The 48volt forklift batteries that are discussed in the comments below are the best I've seen for energy storage.

I'm still learning how to determine how much battery storage I'll need in Phoenix. We have lots of sun, but that means in the summer, lots of heat and AC units are power hogs. I've been researching what HVAC system requires the least power. Then I need to learn how to know if two of the forklift batteries will be enough until the next day.

I plan to have a propane generator as a back up system with a 250 gal under ground tank.

"If you want to change government, you have to become government" Ron Paul

For Freedom!

Regulated Monopoly. That's

Regulated Monopoly.
That's the problem. With or without solar.
Forcing the electric companies to swap solar power from users in the day for that they make at night is just another political arrangement. It's a political privilege those with solar power enjoy, not unlike the many local electric companies enjoy.

If those who generate their own power don't like the charges, just have a regular account. Use their solar during the day, store what they can, have the regular account to get power when they can't make it and their batteries are drained. simple. That way they won't pay any charges related to swapping power. Of course then they have all the fees and service charges people without solar pay, which may end up being more.

All this talk of batteries got me wandering around the webs

... and I found this interesting stuff!


Its so steam-punk I love it!

"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." -- James Madison

You should also look into unification coils



Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ~Thomas Paine

As I sit here pondering - I think it is all coming clearer

I have read Michael's post about the Granger and have refrained from commenting because I have mixed emotions. But now as I read and re-read the comments here - I think it all makes more sense and my mind is clearer.
I think I will actually copy this post right on over to that thread.

First, I am not attacking anyone -merely pointing something out. I posted here that I own a solar home(grid tied, part of big brother subsidy, tax credited, thank you for helping pay for it) and I stated how much a battery bank for my house would cost.

With ZERO knowledge of my home, my solar rating, my electric usage, the direction of my roof, the size of the solar array and the many other factors that go into a complex system - two posters actually question the cost of the batteries. Again, I am not attacking them - merely using it as an illustration.
There is no way anyone who has any solar knowledge would even attempt to quantify the cost of my battery system without asking some of these basic facts.
The DP used to be a place to come and learn, gain knowledge, expand one's mind - but it seems to have shifted to a place where one can only hope not to be questioned and attacked for merely sharing knowledge and experience.
Not one question asked, only "facts" stated.
For anyone looking into solar, I can provide an abundance of knowledge, but it will probably be lost and obscured by those who immediately question question question everything and then throw out information that is incomplete or flat out inaccurate.
Perhaps this is what was driving the Granger further and further. Perhaps Granger was finding it increasingly difficult to grow in the DP garden. No one can deny she had a bulls eye on her and the relentless attacks had to have taken a toll. Perhaps she started to find herself becoming more and more like so many that are just quick to be contrarian - and perhaps upon realizing what she had become - she did not like what she saw. She was not always as confrontational, not always on queue with her predictable comments. Certainly she seemed automated recently - but - then it appears the DP in general has become a little automated.

Maybe we ask the Granger to come back. Maybe we all take an outside look at what we have become and make a conscious effort to move back towards the enlightenment this site provides for those who wish to gain knowledge and not just prove how much they know.

When my teenage daughter's get in one of there teenagers know everything moods we stop using there actual name and call them KNia - it is an affectionate way to remind them that they are acting like Know It Alls. It is amazing to see how once one person starts being a Knia - how others quickly follow suit so as not to feel the lessor. Then it snowballs into all out fights. Hence, we try to stop it early and often.

The DP has too many Knia's these days.

What're you talking about?

Troll account Granger has nothing to do with any of this--and why would you want that account back? It has clearly been co-opted by some of the disinfo f*cks that are often seen on this site.

I didn't see anyone attacking anyone.

Holy crap - did you bother to read two simple posts below

or were you too busy proving my point?

See - what I am talking about is people just shooting of to be contrarian - if you bothered to read - you would clearly understand that I was very explicit in stating that it wasn't an attack and I was not offended or anything - it was an OBSERVATION - of behavior.

A behavior in which so many people will just jump into a topic and say anything to be contrarian - without bothering to read or even take the time to comprehend- which clearly is exactly what you have done.

So defensive

You said:

"one can only hope not to be questioned and attacked for merely sharing knowledge and experience"

This is something I don't see anywhere on DP except for when trolls like Granger are doing it. See here:


Again, NO ONE in this topic even mentioned granger.. until you did. Are you copy/pasting content?

Much of what you are refering to

involves the youth of many posters here.

The typical "knee jerk" (KNIA) of youth is what makes them so open to the new ideas of the freedom movement..... but can also make them think that they are the ONLY ones who have ever learned all of this new info... and everyone else in the entire history of man was just plain stupid!

You see this regarding many different topics. (Religion, Philosophy, Science, Politics, etc). And you see it with your own children.

So the young are the strength and hope of the future, and we love them for it.... but they also have lots of bitter experience waiting to hit them between they eyes as they progress. You can't explain the upcoming pitfalls because they won't believe you. But you can keep trying to guide their exuberance, so that they can be productive in the effort.

Peace and Love brother

Thomas Jefferson: “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."

Viva La Revolucion!

I gotta agree with Victoria below

I'm puzzled by your feeling that you needed to write this particular comment. I didn't see anyone going at you and only those remarking on the limited info you gave. It looked to me more like someone was trying to help you cut costs for the battery.
I find this thread enlightening. I know nothing about solar and am right now living in a kind of valley that gets too much cloud cover to make solar an option. I'd love to go off grid and recently visited friends who have done it, though they live a pretty rough life and I am pathetically stuck to my creature comforts. (please don't yell at me for that!!! :-)!!)
Maybe you should re-read the comments again when you feel a little better and you'll see we're all just exchanging ideas and trying to help where we think we can.
And I'd be careful about calling anyone out about being a KNia. It might get thrown right back attcha :-)

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
James Madison

Let me clear this up - I was not offended or feeling attacked

at all -and I made it very clear I was not attacking anyone.

It was just an observation. An observations of how things were versus how they now are.

I was here in 07 under a different name - lost interest, came back.
It is not the same here. I was an ignorant git back then - and rarely did I fear posting. People took the time to educate you. It was not these posts per se - since they were not really attacking - but it was these posts that made me think about the atmosphere here.

I have very thick skin - hell - I have gone toe to toe with a certain someone from CA that is a popular topic these days. I was merely musing that maybe the environment could use some shifting back to a quest of knowledge and understanding.

And believe me - I have had a few members put me in my place about being a Knia(Nonna and the aforementioned CA girl have both taken me to the woodshed and slapped me around for my bad behavior). I don't claim to be a role model - lol.

Relax. Don't take it so

Relax. Don't take it so personally. It looks to me that people posted in the spirit of discussion of an interesting topic. I found both your and others posts very informative and the debate added to the information. I want to find out more about solar and I am grateful for the information you and the others discussed.

And this is after so many households

bought into government subsidized solar grid tie systems. At least they aren't trying to charge off grid households, YET. Not unlike some government attempts to tax people who have their own water wells or ponds.

How far will the American sheeple let this go? The world may never know.

I have a solar home in CT - and this is one of those little

things they don't tell you when signing up.

I pay a generation fee of 20.00 per month - no matter what.
Part of me thinks it is horse crap- BUT - the other part of me says it is legit. My house is net metered - so while over the course of the month I generate more than I use and end up with a credit - I do in fact draw off the grid at night, cloudy days, etc. so I am using the power companies services including generations, transmission etc.

If people dont want to pay the fee - simple - buy batteries and have them come take the power lines off the house. Of course- those batteries will run you about 30000 dollars so you will break even in about 125 years. hmm - maybe 20 bucks a month isnt bad.

In some states it is either illegal to keep your own power

or you have to meet all the regs of big time power producers, costing you millions.

Some of these states will condemn your house and forcefully evict you if you aren't connected to public or private utilities. (if available)

Anyone think we don't already live in a socialist country?

Batteries are the least of one's concerns if they live in such a state.

thanks for an intelligent

thanks for an intelligent comment on this. My first thought in reading this was...well solar homes do get a benefit from being hooked to the grid and the power company that maintains those lines is entitled to charge for that service.

As you say, if you don't want to pay a fee, have the lines removed from your home - then they provide you no service and they should not be able to charge you any fee.

I don't have solar and thus don't know the economics on getting batteries situated at the house and what the lifetime on those are; but it certainly seems likely to me that using the grid as a back up is economically adventitious if the associated fee is reasonably low.

I think your battery cost estimate is high.

That $30,000 estimate sounds more like a complete high end off grid system.

I was, and still do, thinking of going completely off grid by building my own solar/wind hybrid system. But when you figure in the total initial cost and divide it by your current light bill then you just about break even over the expected life of that equipment. So your sentiment is not unwarranted.

I do have my garage I built off grid. Very simple system with solar panel kit and 2000 watt inverter from Harbor Freight and a deep cycle battery from Auto Zone and home made LED lighting. Total cost of around $350 - $400. I used a garage door opener that has a battery back up function so it and the LED lights just runs off the battery. I only need the inverter for running my compressor, drill, work lights, battery charger/booster (for the lawnmower) when I need them. It's worked great so far.

But even with the cheap equipment I still don't think it has paid for itself even after 2 1/2 years. It's only a garage after all.

I just gained a whole lot of respect...

I just gained a whole lot of respect for you because this requires a huge lifestyle change to live this way. I know because I changed to this lifestyle 10 years ago. Way to go, You will be one of the few like myself that will make it through. Yep, it really does not take much.

If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.


But I wont pat myself on the back until I get completely off grid.


Check it out...

I have been off grid capable for all of those ten years. The hardest part was the couple years it took to become acclimated to the environment because of limited cooling in the summer having no A/C. We "Unspoiled" our tolerance to temperature extremes. But this is the most important thing you can do now to survive when the SHTF.

What I did was got rid of all appliances that ran on electricity. I switched them all out for propane, Fridge, Stove, RV furnace and water heater. We started doing our laundry once a week on "Go to town shopping day".

So now my electricity demand is nothing and We can turn on everything at one time and not kick the breaker on an 800-1200 peak wattage inverter. We lived off grid this way for about 7 years and then bought a three axle coach and converted it.

Then we moved everything over to the coach. So now we have been both independent and and mobile when we choose to or need to for the last 4 years. A lot of "toys" had to be given up and minimalism had to be the new game but we have been ready for SHTF for quite some time now.

If you need any tips, just ask anytime my friend, I now have it down pretty well through trial and error over the years.

If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.

Another concern

I have a one 30lb and four 100lb LP bottles and my 250 gallon LP tank so my LP needs (cooking and heating) would be satisfied for a long while after the SHTF but LP would be unavailable and run out as well.

I built my own portable diesel generator for about $1000 and I have 4 55 gallon drums of diesel because I consider my gas generator to be useless after the SHTF. Used intermittently I could run my fridge and freezer for a long time off of it.

By my figures I could (since they don't run continuously) run the freezer and fridge off of the small solar system that is in my garage as well. I would like to build either a larger system or a few more small systems like that one for backup or augmentation.

Like you said if we ween ourselves from the toys then our energy needs would drop a lot. I am practically SHTF ready as is.