Homeowners with solar panels are ‘giving their excess power to the grid for free’ after government closes energy payment scheme

From The Daily Mail

The Business Department has announced the closure of the ‘export tariff’

It currently pays householders for excess power that is fed back into the grid 

Opponents warned that ending the tariff would leave householders who install panels from April having to give away their power to energy companies free

By Joe Middleton For Mailonline

Published: 11:11 EST, 18 December 2018 | Updated: 11:28 EST, 18 December 2018

The Government is closing an energy payment scheme which will mean homes with solar panels could be giving their excess power to the grid for free, provoking outrage among campaigners.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department (Beis) has announced the closure of the ‘export tariff’ scheme.

It pays householders for excess power that is fed back into the grid, to new solar generators from next April.

The closure of the scheme has prompted fury among green campaigners with Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, describing it as ‘simply perverse’.

The Business Department (Beis) has announced the closure of the 'export tariff' scheme, which pays householders for excess power that is fed back into the grid

The Business Department (Beis) has announced the closure of the ‘export tariff’ scheme, which pays householders for excess power that is fed back into the grid

It is also closing the ‘feed-in tariff’ scheme, which pays small-scale renewables such as solar panels on homes for the clean power they generate, to new installations in a move which was expected by the industry.

The move to close export tariffs comes despite the opposition of the majority of respondents to a consultation.

Opponents warned that ending the tariff would leave householders who install panels from April having to give away their power to energy companies free of charge.

Chris Hewett, chief executive of industry body the Solar Trade Association, said: ‘Beis has taken this decision even before it sets out how it will overcome a really fundamental market failure that risks seeing new solar homes put power on the grid for free from next April.

‘At a bare minimum, Government should retain the export tariff until an effective, alternative way to fairly remunerate solar power is implemented.’

He said the move would not save anyone money because the export tariff was not a subsidy, with the electricity sold back to consumers.

And he warned that the announcement could further damage market confidence in the solar sector, which is also being hit by the end of the feed-in tariffs.

Frank Gordon, head of policy at the Renewable Energy Association, said: ‘The decision to completely remove the export tariff and the generation tariff, while not a surprise, creates a real hiatus in the market and the lack of a replacement route to market is worrying.

‘The Government must work quickly to consult on, establish and implement a successor scheme to avoid significantly stalling the much-needed deployment of decentralised renewables likely to happen after 31st March 2019, which will have the knock-on effect on jobs and continued investment.’

Read the full story here.

HT/JBW

126 thoughts on “Homeowners with solar panels are ‘giving their excess power to the grid for free’ after government closes energy payment scheme

    • When news organisations say “Greenpeace UK” people automatically think they mean the charity which is actually called “Greenpeace Environmental Trust”. However, the charity has 0 employees so it can’t employ a “chief scientist”.
      The non-charity business “Greenpeace UK” employs they following:
      105 campaigners
      43 fundraisers
      25 support
      The average salary for these employees is £43k (the UK average is £27k).
      This looks like the ‘chief scientist’ isn’t employed as a scientist but as a campaigner.

      • GBP43k?? Sheesh! Last time I worked in the UK (Mid-90’s), for a large IT company, I was paid about GBP5k!

        • You were seriously underpaid, then, I’m afraid. The company I worked for then paid about 5 times that. However, I agree that £43k is quite a lot as an average for a company today.

      • Now hoooold your horses. £43k average salary is just that, average. Most of those people could be making 10k, as long as a few at the top are all making £200k+

        … which is pretty much standard operating procedure at most ‘non-profits’.

        ~¿~

          • Nick will definitely be applying central limit theorem and Mosher will definitely Krig it, never once seen them consider the actual data space distribution.

        • That depends on which “average” they are actually referring to.

          Average is an umbrella term that covers 3 different calculations/statistics; mean, median and mode.

          The mean is what most people think of when you say average sum/number of data points

          The median is the value such that exactly half the population of data points is above or below the value. In the US, median is what is usually used when talking about income, but this is also usually explicitly stated.

          The mode is the most common value out of a data set.

      • When news organisations say “Greenpeace UK” people automatically think they mean the charity which is actually called “Greenpeace Environmental Trust”.

        Which deception should not be allowed. It is a blatant case of circumventing laws defining what a charity is and does. There needs to be a campaign to ban ‘mirrored’ charity/profit organizations where the names are substantially indistinguishable.

    • His LinkedIn account as below. Basically he is a chief scientist who does plenty of lobbying and political engagement. He should really change his title to Chief Political Scientist in line with his functional role.

      Chief Scientist and Policy Director
      Greenpeace
      February 2007 – Present 11 years 11 months

      High-level representation, lobbying, technical analysis, overview of political engagement

    • “Homeowners with solar panels are ‘giving their excess power to the grid for free’ after government closes energy payment scheme”

      Quelle surprise!

      More than a decade ago, I foresaw this debacle – the entire grid-connected solar concept was not economic because of high cost, inefficiency and intermittency – so the householders were suckered into spending large sums on solar systems with the false promise of payback, a promise that has now been broken, and they are stuck with their debts.

      How do I diplomatically express my sympathy for their failure to listen to reason?

      • I don’t know what solar systems cost in the UK, here in Australia they would cost around $16,000 for installation. And after that investment by the house owner, they get to give the power away for nothing. Yea, good investment guys.

        • When the first big round of systems were going in, around 10 years ago, a 4kW (yeah, right) array was around £15k installed, they got down to around £8k. The most effective one I saw put out around 3.3kW at 1pm in mid June, almost bang on the south facing axis, the same one on a grey winters day at the same time generated 200-300W. Only ever seen one system installed with a battery storage system – in the loft, during the heat of summer – that will extend the life of those lovely Li-Ion batteries 😉

          Even the decent Mitsubishi panels we were installing at the time will have halved in output after 20 years from installation if they are lucky, inferior ones will become an elegant roof mounted spoiler in less than that. Still, won’t need to clean the tiles for a bit longer.

          At the time, £15k could have bought you external insulation on an average 3 bed detached house and half of a MVHR system. Cost/benefit still poor, but it will keep giving long after the panels have become pretty roof tiles. With no feed in or export tariff, solar panel installers had better look at an alternative to the domestic market or cash in their chips and do something else.

      • In Green Utopia, Millions of people will naturally switch to 3rd shift to take advantage of there houses ability to charge their car during the day. Greens really beleive that people in mass will schedule their lives around all the crazy energy scheme like solar power and smart meters.

        And if you think ‘In Green Utopia’ sounds a lot like the old ‘In Soviet Russia’ jokes, you’re closer then you think.

        ~¿~

        • In Australia because of our long distances it was funny trying to get some of the inner Melbourne Green politicians to understand there was a problem. When you got to some fuel station in the middle of nowhere it would take several hours (something like 3 hours) to charge your car. So on a small town there is going to be a line waiting to charge and what do you do for 3 hours while stranded in the middle of nowhere?

          • Sounds like a good place to put up a ‘house of ill repute’! A real business opportunity that would never have happened without climate change.

        • ‘In Green Utopia’ sounds a lot like the old ‘In Soviet Russia’ jokes

          In Soviet Russia, Green Utopiazes you.

      • True, but the grid is designed to carry the max load and that varies by about a factor of two between day and night. http://gridwatch.co.uk/ So if your house adds to the daytime grid and your car discharges it at night, that’s a win-win. But something rarely discussed is that fact that normal grid-supplied residences pay part of their monthly bill to maintain the transmission and distribution networks. Being solar net zero doesn’t help to pay for these services. That’s what I call a hidden subsidy.

        • In any case, if all UK drivers switched to a battery car the power required to charge them overnight, even at a slow rate, would more than double the night Grid demand. That energy has to come from somewhere, and the only sensible place is fossil fuels. Install fast chargers and you soon hit the point where the Grid infrastructure just can’t cope.

          The reason the battery car is attractive is the zero tax on both fuel and road usage. Tax them at the standard UK rate (eye-watering to even think about for you Americans!) and sales would be nil. As Norway has found out.

    • Sunamp to store excess solar as heat for your house:

      https://www.sunamp.com/residential/#intro

      Generically, the concept of “using your own damn solar instead of making it somebody else’s problem” is referred to as “solar self-consumption” or “solar plus storage.” Thermal storage is the most cost effective option.

      In places like CA and Hawaii with lots of solar, solar exports to the grid are worthless or have negative value. CA regularly pays other states to take excess solar. The correct feed in tariff for solar exports during solar generation hours is approximately $0/kWh.

    • What seems to be missed is that the home system could be configured to use the home solar power over the grid and not feed power to the grid. Problem solved, the solar power goes to the owner and the owner’s grid bill goes down. That’s how it should be. Solar and wind power are really only useful for the end user at the periphery of the grid. The wind or solar power should serve to lighten the load on the grid and lower the end user’s electric bill. As they are saying above, you use what you want, but we get the rest.

      It seems logical to deny the end user selling energy to the grid as it is during the day that renewables work the best and more peripheral solar sources means a greater excess during the day that the grid does not need or want.

      • Pretty much we have done. Sized to support ouselves with little or no export.

        Separate solar assist for hot water. Summer bills 40% of winter bills. Neither is a lot.

        It seems though our political class is working hard to making it a lot more.

  1. I would imagine homeowners in the UK were subsidized by taxpayers and those who could not afford to install solar, so they have been freeloading for a long time, just like in Australia. Take the subsidy and feed-in tariffs away, see how the flood to solar turns in to a drip.

    Solar subsidies are due to be cut in a few months here, lets see how much the take up stalls after!

    • I couldn’t agree more. Oncoming Brexit is going to make things a little bit rough for a while, but after that, the economy is going to thrive. So it’s better to cut that solar nonsense than the NHS (plenty of room to make cuts there, but that’s a different story).
      I am actually wondering what the real figures are going to be or whether it is one of these stories of negligeable content MSM use to make a big deal out of it.

    • they dropped from 60c return when normal power per unit was under 30c
      now its around 6c
      hve to admit im chuckling
      even though were still ripped off

      • My FiT negotiated last year is 15 c for the first x kWh per day, and 10c thereafter, in Victoria. However to get that I have to pay a higher rate for electricity I use, and a higher standing charge. Crude payback is of the order of 7 years or slightly less.

        In 2018 the average wholesale FiT averaged across all energy sources is around $92/MWh, or 9c /kWh, so yes there is a bit of a subsidy in there but it isn’t completely out of line especially bearing in mind the extra I pay for my supply. On the other hand, yes I should be paid less because the power is not despatchable, on the gripping hand I should be paid more because solar peaks at the time of peak demand in summer.

  2. It is foolish to make investments just to harvest tax returns unless you can make your initial investment back very fast. Tax policy is liable to change every election. You should only invest if there’s a good business case in the first place. If a politician sees something that looks like low hanging fruit, she will go after it. Just look at all the Obama policies that President Trump has been able to unwind.

    I don’t have photovoltaic panels because there’s no business case. The folks who sign long term contracts with contractors still have to make payments even if the government quits paying for their extra electricity.

      • It is only new installations that are affected, so the existing installations will be very well paid for their generation for decades to come.

        The people this will hurt are the installers, who will all go out of business.

      • and, at least here in the USA, leasing solar panels has created a huge issue when people want to sell their homes.

        • For the UK see David Ward’s comment above – they areindeed stuffed. A friend’s house purchase fell through because of leased solar panels. As soon as they realised the panels were leased they dropped it like a hot potato. Funny that the seller’s Estate Agent/Realator never mentioned the issue.

    • I wonder if good old Griff had his snout in the trough and will get caught up in this, he always did love his solar.

  3. I think that those already getting paid exorbitant amounts will continue bto receive them, it’s only new installations that won’t.

    “A fair remuneration” as demanded by subsidy farmers would be the going rate at the time of supply.

    I expect a decline to newrly zero in domestic solar panels as ROI will be so low as to make them too expensive for 97% of property owners.

    • yes, it should be the end of domestic solar and indeed low end windmills.

      Unfortunately ROCS and so on are still extant so even windmills and solar panels that receive no subsidies at all can make money out of ROCS.

      Whether the ROC survives Brexit – and whether Brexit actually happens, is another matter

  4. Is that a genuine Weber barbecue grill?
    The overwhelming favorite of climate researchers everywhere.
    Kenji not in the photo, too bad.

  5. Imagine if cable TV providers could force you to take their service, and then demand you pay for it.

    Actually, I can’t think of ANY company that can force you to buy their product.

    ~¿~

      • The NHS is rather like a state school system. You pay for it partly as insurance in case you do need it (its emergency system is actually rather good) and partly because you don’t want to live in a society where people are either uneducated or sick because they can’t afford not to be….

        Having said that, there are certainly many things wrong with it…. mostly due to it being a big bureaucracy…

        • Not wanting to live in a country with uneducated or sick people is not proof that government is competent to take over the job.

          • -For example, see South Africa, where the ANC government is making a total hash of basic education and public healthcare!

    • All governments do precisely that. As do all monopolies, of essentials. I have no choice but to buy water if want flush toilets and a shower.,

      I am forced to buy state medical insurance and state medical care.

    • Imagine if cable TV providers could force you to take their service, and then demand you pay for it.
      ========
      That is exactly what happened in Canuckistan. If you didn’t call up and wait a couple of hours on hold to cancel you ended up with cable services you didn’t ask for but would have to pay for.

      It was called negative marketing or something similar. Much like the old book of the month club scam, but now with the CRTC (canuck FCC) making it all legal.

      Sort of like k-tel shipped everyone in the US as set of ginko knives and the courts ruled you had to pay for them.

  6. I thought solar + storage was supposed to economically viable.
    All the have to do is store the excess for use later and they wont be giving anything away for free.

    Of course if we have been misled about the economic viability of solar+storage…

    • Precisely TerryS : What these solar panelist’s are demanding is a subsidised battery backup system; but the grid is NOT an energy storage system. Using it as such is expensive.
      It is high time these freeloaders were got off the backs of the rest of us.
      Let them taste the viability of solar + storage for themselves. Might dampen their enthusiasm!!?

    • Give it time. South Australia already has solar/battery giving an economic return over grid power. UK would need mighty high grid prices to make the feeble sun plus battery viable there. Brexit may nudge imported power higher but likely well short of what is needed to make rooftop solar/battery economic.

      Any economy aiming for 100% intermittent ambient generation will destroy the economics of their grid and it will be cheaper for local generation and storage. Fundamentally there is no benefit of scale with solar and any benefit of scale with wind is lost by the addition of transmission costs.

      In Australia, purchasing rooftop solar power is the low cost option for retailers to meet their RET requirement. Typically the retailers are offering a FIT similar to the wholesale price and that provides a massive saving because they avoid having to purchase LGCs from grid scale intermittent generators. In 2017 LGCs were running at $92/MWh but have dropped to $65/MWh in 2018 as the market is becoming saturated. Electricity Bill Shorten is promising to double the RET to 50% in this will ensure subsidy farming has a strong future. Without an increase in the RET, the price of LGCs will fall to zero in a couple of years.

  7. It gets worse, gonna have to pay for doing so…
    Those that generate electricity at home or on-site could pay more

    “Ofgem’s proposed charging reforms will ensure these charges for the grid are shared fairly between all consumers. In a consultation, the regulator has set out its preference to introduce fixed residual charges for all households and businesses rather than charges based on the amount of electricity they take from the grid under the current charging system. They would be broadly similar to fixed telephone line rental arrangements.

    https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/ofgem-consults-network-charging-reforms

    Having said that, The People kicking up the most fuss about it (where I found this story), are folks who have installed (obviously along with their PV systems) power diversion controllers that recognise when any export is happening and divert that power into (typically) hot-water heaters.

    They thus export Total Zero yet still expect to be paid for exporting 50% of everything their PV panels produce.
    They want the grid to be there for them to suck money out of it and not pay for it.
    The typical selfish money grubbing hypocritical behaviour of Warmists everywhere.

    there’s just too too many rats and every attempt so far to curb their numbers has simply created more of them….
    =The Illusion of Prosperity

    • sigh, missed me slash. again
      Prolly coz I iz soooooorich yanno – thats what Rich People do.
      Lose slashes
      I know that coz I just told meself.
      😀
      (Nice work Peta – go collect a Big Phat Paycheck – and another coffee for that one)
      I’ll bet that ‘statistics’ will work out where it is.
      (The missing slash, not my paycheck)

    • I would think the grid would pay you a small bit for keeping your intermittent, unregulated crap power off the grid.

  8. The greenies wouldn’t exist without simple minded ignorant citizens who swallow their lies and distortions.
    When solar roofs unrequestedly dump their excess power onto the grid they 1) force the grid to pay a price that is far higher than this unreliable power is worth and 2) the grid has to either dump the solar power to the ground or throttle back their reliable (controllable) power generation from fossil fuel or nuclear power plants, which reduces their output, significantly raising their per kWhr costs – in the case of nuclear, cost increases are linear and 100% of the reductions, making nuclear plants go bankrupt.
    The solar roof people can avoid losing solar generated power simply by installing batteries to store the power until they need it during another portion of the day or the next day. Tesla and others sell ready to go battery packs designed for just such a situtation – and they can also recharge electric car batteries. A typical 6KW solar roof produces a max of roughly 4.2 kilowatts and a typicl location which receives 5 suns of solar radiated power can produce roughly 22 kilowatt hours of power daily. An electric car can typically travel
    60 to 80 miles on that 22kWhrs.

    • Except the solar power will usually come in during the day. And most people are away working during the day, so the energy must be converted and stored in batteries and then transferred from the home battery bank to the auto battery bank when the car returns home, after production has ceased. Losses in every step. And the last time I checked, it cost as much to put a kilowatt-hr into/out of a Tesla Wall or a Tesla car than a kilowatt-hr cost in my neck of the woods. You would be doing that twice, unless you had two cars you could rotate so that one could charge each day while you were at work.

      22kw-hr per day x 365 days x 10 years = about 80,0000 kw-hr run through battery (probably a high number)

      Replacement battery cost (Tesla Auto = $12,000 US, probably a low number)

      Cost of money and maintenance = $0 (probably low)

      12,000/80,000 = $0.15/kw-h

    • What does “receives 5 suns of solar radiated power” mean? I’m not aware of a unit called a sun.
      Did you mean hours of full sunlight?

  9. The government is simply trying to get people with PV installations to make better use of the electricity that they generate. Systems already exist that use excess electricity, such as Sunamp.

    • Presumably, if people want go off-grid occasionally, they should be charged extra for the disruption they cause when they switch back on whenever they run out of stored power….

      • A home reconnecting to grid power is no worse than an A/C starting up. That’s the sort of shock the grid is designed for. It’s not able to handle the backflow.

  10. ..‘At a bare minimum, Government should retain the export tariff until an effective, alternative way to fairly remunerate solar power is implemented.’….

    That’s a good idea.

    I suggest that the total cost of this appalling scheme is added up, and anyone who employs solar panels to:

    a) avoid paying for the upkeep of the Grid (which is factored into the cost of electricity
    b) cause disruption to the Grid control system by irregular insertion of power in an uncontrolled manner

    should be charged a suitable sum for every watt input……

  11. There are rumours that Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport is disrupted by the eco-warriors, just a rumour, despite of it I arrived home very early this morning after sitting about 7 hours instead of customary less than two hours on one of the BA’s aeroplanes.

    • vukcevic

      All over Radio 2 but conjecture that it’s the greens, although it’s been mentioned a few times.

      How to make your green movement universally unpopular in one easy lesson!

      • Apparently it is drones being flown near the airport, disrupting air corridors over London. First it was lasers now it’s drones.

  12. The days of the “green” energy scam, at the expense of ratepayers and taxpayers are indeed numbered. They’ve gotten a free ride on the completely bogus and idiotic idea that “green” energy will help “save the planet”. And now they get to pay their fair share. Boo-hoo-hoo.

  13. Complain, complain, complain. First, you want “free” enegy (not my fault you bought a perpetual motion machine), then you want PAID for using it. There are comments about homeowners being “forced” into things. So it’s fine to foist your crappy, intermittant solar on the power company, but it’s unfair they can have it for free? YOU forced them to take it and probably you did so because you COULD and you could FORCE them to pay you for what they did not want. You know, stick it to the power company. So now they stick it to you. Hey, life’s not fair and you just lost the lottery.

  14. I don’t get how anyone can give away generated electricity for free – it will drive the meter backwards so they will get the actual domestic market price, just without the additional grossly inflated ‘bonus’.

    (Perhaps some meters – probably smart! are not capable of going backwards?)

    • Most electric meters have a KWH in and KWH out channel so they can tell how much went which way.
      Most consumers/consumer group want what you described above which is called “net metering” that way they get paid the same for excess generation as they pay retail for power. Most electric companies want to have the outbound be paid at the rate for generated KWHs from other sources generally 1/3 to 1/4 the retail rate.

    • We have always given our extra energy back to grid (in our case not = govt) for free.

      We sized the system to offset our own use and didnt apply for a feed in tarrif. It would only add to everyone elses costs and we are happy just to offset our own use (usage rate is 4 times the FIT). Main export is spring and autumn when the whether can be sunny and mild and we arent really heating or cooling the house much

  15. The house pictured has 14 panels. I don’t know what each panel produces, but let’s say 150 watts each.

    In the summer on a sunny day let’s say they get 6 hrs of good sunlight.. so that’s 6×150 or 900 watt hrs per panel x 14 panels or 12.6 kWh for the 6 hrs. Now taking out internal requirements of 1 kWh (which is probably way low) there is a surplus of 6.6 kWh or ~200 kWh per month. For every $.01, that’s $2 per month.

    So for a surplus payment of .10 / kWh it’s just $20 and for .20 it’s $40 for the month and that is at the peak of the summer. In the winter with very low generation and higher consumption, producing a surplus has to be be tough.

    I don’t think the panel installation would make sense even with a subsidy with all the hassle of installation, poking holes in the roof, possible panel and controller failures, etc. It makes one heck of a lot of sense to just invest in better insulation, efficient appliances, LED lighting and HVAC.

  16. That Greenpeace is agin’ it, it’s probably the right thing to do.

    ‘The Government is closing an energy payment scheme which will mean homes with solar panels could be giving their excess power to the grid for free’

    Think how much better they will feel about themselves; not just virtue signalling, but also giving of their bounty to others. Merry Christmas!

    ‘provoking outrage among campaigners’

    Uhh . . . Campaigners are always outraged – it’s their job.

  17. Basically if you can’t guarantee a steady supply of electrons you can keep them and welcome to the level playing field with thermal power. No problems as households can stick in a Powerwall or two in order to do that anytime they wish.
    As for this new rule only applying to new installs softly softly catchee monkey. Just let the resentment for the current reshiftables owners build up over time and then it’s only fair to bring them onboard too with the noble aim of encouraging dispatchable power in the long run. Never bite off more than you can chew and always divide and conquer.

  18. I am sorry to laugh but the whole idea of a lot of self guilt greenies (who lets face it were the main ones who could afford to enter the ponzi scheme) getting stung is a form of Social Justice. I hope it sticks and the Government doesn’t back down.

  19. Actually, the Government should advise the solar panel owners to go out and buy a few hundred thousand Pounds of batteries, switching gear, inverters, etc. Effectively they’ll be simply “putting up” energy just like gardeners put up excess tomatoes during the growing season.
    Did the gardeners never got subsidies for excess tomatoes?

    • Don’t forget the extra insurance because you now have huge batteries in your house that catch fire and can’t easily be put out.

      I’ve thought of installing solar power for backup when the grid power goes out, but I really don’t want to burn my house down as a result. I’d rather be cold for a few hours than very warm and then freezing.

  20. You mean I can’t just pump ANY electricity back into the grid at ANY time with ANY harmonics I want and get PAID for it anymore? How RUDE!

  21. How does returning power to the utility grid work, exactly?

    Is the consumer’s 240V DC power inverter smart enough to exactly match the power grid? Does the power inverter match the perfectly sinusoidal wave pattern of the grid?

    If not, do the neighbors receive noisy inverter power that interferes with their electronics?

    If the DC power inverter exactly matches the consumer grid, how is any power actually transferred?

    Are the voltage over/under regulators designed for a source of power other than the utility grid?

    The consumer’s 240 V AC is eventually stepped down from the 155-765 KV 3 phase AC grid.

    Can the reverse actually take place, with the 240 V inverted AC stepped up to 155-765 KV 3 phase AC?

    If it’s so easy for consumers to share energy using the grid, why do utility companies experience difficulties in sharing their 3 phase AC power with more than 30% efficiency?

    Does the DC inverter, which connects to a meter that calculates the power returned, actually return any power to the utility grid?

    • 240 V inverters are very smart, they phase match, stay in sync with the grid. If the inverter has excess power available, the inverter output voltage is increased in steps, 241V 242V 243V etc until the inverter is sending all of its excess power to the grid.

      Transformers do not mind or know which direction power flows, however, if the output of a utility transformer at 240V was driving out 240V and some 240V inverters were ‘sending back’ power, effectively less power would be transferred from the transformer input to the transformer output.

      The sun comes up and suddenly the utility has no where to send its electricity.

  22. At the end of the day people will gladly use “green technologies” when they make sense. Right now they don’t make sense and the mad rush (by mad government) to force their use despite the lack of readiness is insanity.
    Go away, keep working in the labs and come forward with a plan when it is ready for mass consumption.

    • People use “green technologies” already. They are called natural gas, hydroelectric, and nuclear.

  23. When will all the campaigners, fundraisers, and policy directors work to halt clear cutting of forests for wood pellets?

    • Clear-cut. How very dare you. Every one knows they only burn naturally shed pine needles and bark flakes harvested by elves and delivered by packunicorn.

  24. This energy is actually worth less than zero since it destabilizes the grid.
    So being paid zero is still a subsidy.

  25. I just paid a $7 power bill for 0 kwh.

    Of course that is the charge for being connected to the grid. I keep a camping trailer there and it was not used. Last year I kept in plugged in and had a $15 bill for the frig and inverter.

    When I am at this property I am usually in the motor home and have the ability to produce my own power. Of course I can not produce power cheaper than the utility when only fuel costs are considered.

    The bottom line is electricity is a very cheap commodity to produce. The value of grid connected solar is essentially zero. It cost more to meter and bill.

    On the other hand electricity has huge value when the benefits are considered. In the US, power companies are a regulated public service. That means they can not charge what you would pay but only cost + a modest profit.

    The consumer is protected from the power company.

    However, the consumer is not protected from their goverment depending on where you live. Consumers are not protected from solar sc*m artist.

    For example, in-laws in California bought a house in bought a house with solar panels. They got a bill for $900 because the panels did not produce enough power. They assumed that solar was a good thing. Now they are monitoring the systems closely. Recently the meter stopped working. So they called the company that has the lease on the solar panels and charges them for the company’s system not working. No hurry to fix the problems.

    So not getting paid for excess power is better?

  26. ‘At a bare minimum, Government should retain the export tariff until an effective, alternative way to fairly remunerate solar power is implemented.’

    How about, “Virtue is its own reward.”

  27. The amount of “feed back” electricity from private rooftop solar to the grid is minuscule, not measurable at the grid level, and useless for load planning. The only recipients of money from it are the owners of the panels (not necessarily the home owner). They are paid a subsidy to install it, then another subsidy for the electricity used, then again for electricity not used. If that’s not a scam then nothing is.

  28. I live in Klickitat County, Washington, which has a publicly owned utility (Klickitat Public Utility District) that gets essentially all of its electricity from the Bonneville Power Administration. KPUD pays about 3.75 cents/kWh to Bonneville, and charges its customers 9.5 cents + a flat $20 a month. The markup covers the costs of administering the utility and maintenance of the grid.

    Early in this decade, WA State enacted a generous set of incentives for solar panels and home-scale wind turbines. There were two broad categories. The first paid very heavy direct subsidies, but was sharply limited and has long since ended for new customers. Ongoing payment of those incentives expires in 2020, and I’m not at all sure they’ll survive after that.

    The second subsidy was subtler: so-called “net metering,” by which the panel or windmill owner feeds his excess back to the utility, and which are then returned on a 1:1 basis when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. In essence, the grid-tied solar panel user is paid the retail rate for his juice; in Klickitat County, his meter literally runs backward when he’s feeding power to the grid. Maintenance and administration (the difference between the wholesale cost and retail rate) is paid by non-panel, non-windmill customers.

    There is considerable irony and inequity involved. For starters, because solar panels or the very occasional small windmill involves a considerable capital outlay, affluent people are the ones who have them. They are subsidized by far less affluent ordinary customers, Klickitat County having a whole lot of them. Secondly, given that KPUD’s generation sources are 87% hyrdo and utility-scale wind (the Columbia River Gorge having a lot of big wind turbines) and 8% nuclear from a generator at the famous Hanford reservation (which is there because it made the plutonium for the U.S. nuclear force), and only 3% fossil, it turns out that a solar panel user is responsible for a minimum of twice as much CO2 output as a utility customer. And that’s only if you include the CO2 output involved with the making of the concrete and steel for the Columbia River’s dams, the last of which went into service about 60 years ago.

    As soon as home generation reaches 0.5% of all electricity use, a utility can stop offering net metering. This has happened in Klickitat County, so KPUD terminated net metering for new solar panel customers as of a few months ago. Now, KPUD will pay the same wholesale rate for panel power that it pays to Bonneville — about 3.75 cents/kWh — while charging panel users the retail rate of 9.5 cents/kWh for power they use when the sun isn’t shining at all, or not enough. Existing panel customers will keep net metering, but not new ones.

    Oh, the hue and cry! I had been investigating panels for the house we built a year ago, but dropped the idea when I learned about the change. I was on a solar power e-mail distribution list for a while, and defended the KPUD move on the grounds of economic equity and the lack of any environmental benefit from panels even if you care about CO2. The response of the list keepers was to end the list, and then reform a new list without me on it. Hell hath no fury like a fake-o “environmentalist” scorned. I laughed, and considered it a compliment.

    Now to the final point.

    I’m going to be doing a lot more research into KPUD. We are a shockingly well-run county, a true night-and-day contrast with Seattle/King County, where we moved from. There are only 22,000 people in Klickitat County’s 1,900 square miles. I am just floored by the talent, integrity, and diligence on display in our county’s government. Soon, I’m going to be meeting with members of the utility commission to get the details about Bonneville’s wind turbines, and about the county distribution grid.

    Subject to later fact-gathering, my inclination is to think that a utility should pay their wholesale rate to solar panel users for their excess power, provided that this power can be used as easily as other wholesale sources. In principle — again, subject to details I might learn — I don’t think it would be fair to pay nothing at all, just as I don’t think it has been fair to pay a subsidy in the form of net metering.

    • My utility is Cowlitz Co PUD – similarly situated to KPUD.
      I also used to work for Portland General Electric [see Trojan Nuclear Plant]. There is one point that needs to be added to the arguments about whether the utility should be paid or not.
      All utilities have the responsibility to provide and maintain all the necessary transmission lines substations, generators – or contracts in the case of Cowlitz PUD or KPUD, etc. They also, per State Utility Commission rules are REQUIRED to provide electric service if you want it. This means they have to provide to you when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow. THAT means some kind of fossil (coal or nat gas) generators must run at all times – NO DELAY – for when that happens. It turns out that this spinning reserve must usually nearly equal the utilitie’s maximum load. THAT requires a lot of investment $$ and maintenance expense.
      Therefore, the argument usually is that, while your solar or wind system is feeding your excess energy to the grid the ONLY cost the utility saves is the fuel cost they didn’t have to use. That, minus the per kw cost of moving the power over the lines is all they should owe the homeowner.

      • Correct me if I wrong, but please be specific and thorough. I have an appetite for detail.

        Doesn’t the difference between wholesale and retail cover what you mention? Believe me, I am open minded, but facts rule.

  29. The homes with solar panels are in essence using the power grid as a giant battery. Since they’re not being charged for “energy storage” it’s actually fair for the utilities to distribute their excess power to others. I doubt they’re contributing enough excess power to make any noticeable difference in the utility company balance sheet.

    • If someone has grid-tied solar (which is always what it is, given the exorbitant cost of batteries), you have hit the nail on the head. Given my present state of knowledge, yes, the utility distributes their excess to others. The question is what the utility should pay for that electricity. At present, I am inclined to think that the utility should pay the wholesale rate, but that’s subject to having more information than I do right now.

  30. Until this problem is fixed I will not allow solar panels on my roof that provide free power to the power companies. I will only allow solar panels to be installed on my roof if everything is under my terms.

    • At present, I don’t think you should provide power for free. I think you should be paid the wholesale rate, adjusted for any additional costs the utility might incur in taking your power.

      All of this winds up being very much a numbers game. “Your terms” are yours, but you have one customer. In that reality, you are a price taker, not a price maker.

      • It’s only worth wholesale, if it’s available when the utility needs it, not when you feel like providing it.

        Randomly available power isn’t worthless, it’s worth is actually negative.
        For example, there are times when California utilities actually end up paying surrounding utilities to take their excess power, because wind and solar are producing more then the utilities can use, and it would cost them even more to throttle back the other sources of electrical power.

  31. Professional leftist hippies whine when the money boost pumps fail ? Nothing new under the sun. Green business as usual.

  32. Free isn’t really fair. Charge them the lowest wholesale rate on the system at the time. That’s fair and will cost very little as wholesale rates are low.

  33. I’m not sure this applies to existing installations, anyway. Only ones brought online after the deadline next year.

  34. Going off the grid and not hooking up to “the system” will lead to entrepreneurs coming up with a way for homeowners to use left over energy in some way. On the other hand, just turn off your private source till your batteries can handle more energy. I vote for plain ol’ self sufficiency with sending energy back to “the system” be damned.

    • This is all fine and good as a sentiment, but when you actually think about doing it and then look at the realities …

  35. Thank goodness – at least this is a start. There must be no follow on subsidy system of any sort and now we need to pull back on the existing subsidy commitments too. This whole solar energy issue has been shown to be a monumental scam.

    The only mechanism that could be considered sensible would be for the feedback of domestic solar energy to be treated as a storage system so allowing users to ‘bank electricity’ that they (and only they) can draw on in cooler times.

  36. The panelists should be happy. Actually they would have to pay for the superfluous network grid load.

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