Iowa's electricity monopolist Midamerican Energy has written a bill to let it "monopolize the sun"

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/02/21/house-study-bill-185.html

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Another case of “The Simpsons” being strangely, disappointingly prescient.

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damnit. 10 minutes slow

SINCE THE BEGINNING OF
TIME MAN HAS YEARNED TO
DESTROY THE SUN. I WILL
DO THE NEXT BEST THING–

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What a creative headline.

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Headline: Iowa’s electricity monopolist Midamerican Energy has written a bill to let it "monopolize the sun"

Story: Utility efforts to roll back existing net metering rules, which unfairly shift the cost of grid maintenance to consumers without solar panels (who also tend to have lower incomes than solar panel adopters).

Okay, then… carry on.

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Novel idea, but a bit on the grandiose side…

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Also, there will be no more tanning, and outdoor gardening is a thing of the past.

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Notice the quote marks.

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Yup. Still wouldn’t use it in a headline, unless I was trolling for clicks. Oh, right…

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This is a legitimate issue. Under the current system the maintenance of the grid (which is used by everyone connected to it whether they merely draw power from the grid or contribute the surplus power from their solar panels) is paid for by the people who pay utility bills.

If we want a future where more people produce power this way through a distributed system then sooner or later we’ll have to change the way the grid is funded. Not sure Midamerican’s approach is the right one, but the status quo can’t last forever either.

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Its simple enough to establish a reasonable (meaning small) charge for outgoing electricity as way to pay for infrastructure cost - that would just be subtracted from the rate at which you buy power, so selling power would be slightly less.

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Yes, that would be one solution.

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It reminds me of the infamous Spanish “solar tax”:

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I came to the comments expecting this reference and have not been disappointed. :slight_smile:

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Because Warren doesn’t have enough money as it is, I guess.

MidAmerican is owned by Berkshire Hathaway. Along with the biggest real estate company in the state, and also the biggest furniture store in central Iowa.

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Then the proper thing to do is break out the grid maintenance cost as a line item, and deduct that from net metering. Feeding power into the grid doesn’t put any more stress on it that taking power out.

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Mid Americans critics have set up straw horses to bash them. Besides the grid costs mentioned above, renewables require the maintenance of conventional powerplants for backup, at night for instance. At present at least, in the “real world”. So buying your excess solar power at retail rates versus wholesale while you’re also buying less from them doesn’t pencil out [compute].

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I want to tap my $10,000 solar array into your multibillion utility network. About half the utility bill is energy production cost. The rest is transmission, maintaining overhead and underground lines, wages, pensions, taxes, environmental bribes, politician payoffs, vehicles, trenchers… The people putting up solar panels save $100+ or more a month cutting out the expenses all the 99.9% pay for and paying a small percentage to maintain the electric grid that serves them 24/7/365 isn’t out of bounds. If they want to go off grid they can call the utility and get their meter removed completely and live off their solar power.

I see many are misinformed about net metering. Not surprising, given the massive amount of propaganda large electric utility providers are unleashing. Read the post again - there is no appreciable “extra cost” to the utility for their co-generation customers. They are either lying, or they are fantastically incompetent.

I have net metering with my local co-op. All co-op members pay a monthly fee (currently $25) for grid infrastructure and maintenance, then they pay for the kWh they actually use on top of that. When I produce excess in the summer, I just pay the $25 a month, and the extra kWh are banked for me. In the winter, when I use more than I produce, those banked kWh are deducted from my usage until I run out, then I pay regular retail.

If you actually look at that, I am subsidizing the co-op (and thus, the other customers) rather than the other way around. Imagine you ran a liquor store, and every summer I gave you 12 bottles of vodka I just made. You turn around and sell them immediately to other customers for full retail, although you haven’t paid anything at all for them. Come winter, I ask you to give me a couple bottles a month until you’ve given me 12. Each month, you pay wholesale to a supplier for those bottles and give them to me. You’ve just had the full retail to do with as you please for six months and are just now paying wholesale for it. How is getting NET180+ terms not a better deal for you than for me?

But no, that’s not enough for piglike utilities. Don’t believe their (or their shills’) bullshit. Or the bullshit about how we need baseload plants. Guess what, we already have them and would need even more plants (peaking and baseload) if nobody was co-generating. Until we have way more than literally an order of magnitude more co-generation customers, this is a complete non-issue.

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I forgot to mention another benefit of breaking out maintenance and kWh costs. In my rural area, there are a number of vacation homes. Until they changed it, folks who rarely visited their houses paid way less for maintenance than us full-timers, because they use so few kWh. Even though it costs exactly as much to keep the electricity flowing to their houses as everyone else’s. Now that the items are separated, they are paying the true cost of grid maintenance.

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