Electric company to charge solar panel users for not using company’s power. (#Blogathon)

Is it just me or does it seem like a lot of companies are pulling fees out of their collective asses these days? It’s mostly the airlines, but there are other companies doing it like the folks at Xcel Energy in Colorado who have decided that they are going to charge the homeowners who have solar cells on their houses a fee for being connected to the power grid:

Tom Henley, an Xcel Energy spokesman, initially told 7NEWS that implementing the fee would level the playing field for electricity users who are currently subsidizing connectivity fees for solar users, who sometimes use no electricity in a given month and therefore, pay no electrical fees.

“We just don’t think it’s fair that customers that don’t have solar panels on their homes should subsidize these solar panel customers any further,” said Henley.

But when pressed, Henley admitted that currently, no Xcel electric customers pay extra to fund solar connectivity fees. In reality, Xcel absorbs those fees. The money from the proposed fee would not go into the pockets of electric customers, but would go back to Xcel.

Henley said the fee is a preventative measure to ensure that, down the road, solar customers do not get free rides.

“What we’re looking to do is stop that, avoid that occurrence from happening,” he said.

No, no. What you’re doing is attempting to get something for nothing. And your customers know it:

Mike Jacoby, who installed solar panels on the roof of his home two years ago, bristled at the notion that he is not doing his part.

Jacoby said the installation cuts his monthly electrical fee by anywhere from 33 to 50 percent a month. In return, his home acts as a power plant, generating energy for Xcel that can power some of the homes on his block.

“Mine are generating enough to feed five or six houses around me electricity, so there’s no free ride,” said Jacoby.

“That’s less energy that Xcel Energy has to produce. That’s less coal that they have to burn,” agreed Dan Ferguson, a solar consultant with Vibrant Solar.

Yeah, someone’s upset they’re not making money off the solar power users. Fortunately it looks like the solar power folks are going to fight the fee and I hope they win. This is a bullshit fee for bullshit reasons.

9 thoughts on “Electric company to charge solar panel users for not using company’s power. (#Blogathon)

  1. Pathetic. Charging people for saving money. To hell with all of them.
    Though they suck, looks like you’re still doing awesome hanging in there. Keep on truckin’.

  2. I heard years ago that this was the law. This is the closest I’ve come to getting confirmation of that. Along with that, I also heard that once you are connected, you can’t disconnect. Your only hope of not paying the power company is to avoid getting physically connected to them in the first place.

    As for confirming that, there are so many laws and each state is different, I’m not sure where to start. I’ve also never cared enough to look.

  3. Well, as much as I thought our power companies were assholes, I guess they’re not so bad…they fully encourage residential and commercial solar installations. They go so far as to explain the different types and to contribute to the federal and state rebates for installing them on your home.
    Just browsing one of the companies’ sites and they even talk about being “on-grid” or “off-grid”, saying when it makes more sense to go off-grid.
    I can’t find anything specific on the site that would back this up, but I seem to recall hearing that it is possible to generate more power than you consume and then the electric company actually pays you because you are feeding power back into the grid.

  4. What worries me is the new digital meters they’re pushing.  I figure that they’d have them configured to log how much you generate back into their system. That way they pay you a wholesale rate for it, but you still pay full retail for everything you’ve used, as opposed to the current meters, which would just reduce the total kW usage and lower your bill by the retail rate, not a wholesale rate.  Yeah, I know that it is logical from the power co’s perspective, but it doesn’t encourage solar use, since your payback time would take longer. 

    Seems to me that encouraging supplemental solar here in Texas would help them in the peak periods where they have to bring up the offline plants to meet demand.  The peak days are all sunny and hot – it’s the a/c usage that drives the demand. 

    I guess TXU down here solves the fee issue by charging everyone some kind of base fee (usually ~$5), depending on the plan.

  5. Imagine a city with 100% solar panel usage. No one buys power from the electric company except for the occasional cloudy day. Who pays for the infrastructure then?

  6. It would be just terrible if people were able to produce their own clean, renewable energy in sufficient quantities that it drove the power companies out of business. Just terrible!

    I’m sorry, is my sarcasm showing again?

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