“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” I am reminded of this quote attributed to Gandhi, as we have definitely entered the fighting stage as the utilities commence freak out about roof-top individually-owned solar PV.
Chris Dunnigan does a good job with this status update, though I’d like to add a couple of easy points he did not make in his article. http://www.invw.org/article/solar-payments-at-stake-1512
While characterizing the WA state solar incentives as taking a “bite” out of the state budget, at about $4 million in 2014, he fails to note the state budget totals about $34 Billion annually – making this equal to about 0.01% of the state budget, one ten thousandth, hardly a “bite” and not a bad deal for 6500 grid-tied PV systems, getting an average of about $600 each annually. At a current rate of increase of 25% annually, this incentive could grow for a long time before becoming significant. We are all in favor of fiscal responsibility for our state, and this incentive has resulted in hundreds of good jobs being created, and in a positive (though very small) increase in the cleanliness of our electricity usage here in Washington.
The utilities are citing potential technical difficulties resulting from the variability of solar energy throughout the day – an argument which is a pathetic joke. The amount of contribution to our grid currently from rooftop solar is infinitesimal, as is the amount of lost revenue to the utilities. This is not a realistic concern, the numbers don’t add up and the utilities are unable to present any actual data to bolster their claims. My advice to you is to not believe it, don’t let the uninformed parrot this argument without showing actual evidence of it’s truth – they can’t.
In the meanwhile, we’ve been on pace installing about 60 kW per month, a record Q1 for us by a long shot. Will the utilities be successful making grid-tied PV systems less attractive for individuals in Washington? I can’t know, though we will continue to fight against that. If you have been considering going solar, now is a very good time to move forward.
I love my solar!
I envision a day when the regulated power companies transition to “grid maintenance companies” that charge a fair price for power that is taken from the “grid”. This price per kWh for the grid power would be used to maintain and improving the grid that we all rely on. This would be a company that embraces distributed power generation like solar. Yes widespread solar adoption owned by YOU is a disruptive technology to central power generation. Since April 2009 my Power Trip installed 1.23kW array has generated 83.69% of my power, and the only reason it is in the 80’s is because I recently installed a hybrid hot water heater to reduce my natural gas consumption. I also use the PSE’s 100% green power purchase program, so the 400 kWh I purchased last year did help maintaining the grid. I hope that the way we are were billed is just changed to have a fair price for grid maintenance for the power you take off the grid, and a price for the power you take off the grid after net metering. I would hate for us to go down the path that the utilities are taking in Arizona like charging “Fees”.
So if you are reading this and thinking of going solar, Power Trip is an awesome company. They did a great job at my installation and provided great customer service when I had issues with my Enphase Inverters. I tell high school students all the time to go to college and consider the solar industry because the solution rises every morning. And to the employees of Power Trip – I am still enjoying watching the sun!
Kevin Koski, Bremerton WA.
Thanks Kevin, you’re a rock star. I was just at Bremerton HS Monday for their Energy Week talking about solar and job skills we are looking for, and other opportunities in the renewable energy industry.