[Ok-sus] New clean energy tariff

Isaac Rutel i_rutel at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 30 17:01:49 UTC 2014


Kelley,

  While I agree that power production and distribution costs can be complicated, the general model currently employed already accounts for much of the "perceived" costs of including distributed generation.

1) The cost to connect distributed generation systems is the same cost for everyone else to connect (it we hook up the generators directly).  Like the highway analogy, once there is a pathway for electricity to go there are no other "infrastructure costs" that would be required only for the generator location (up to a max amperage of electricity being sent back into the grid).  The last parenthetical is there for the situation where a generator may want to produce more than the 200-400A of current that they are connected to use FROM the grid.  This is highly unlikely, as after conditioning, to only 120V (not an alternative 220V), this would only be only 45-90A of current going back into the grid . . . for a 5-10KW system.  For the 220V conditioning this would be ~1/2 the 45-90A current.  So there would be no cable/wire size increases from a small generating facility (ie. homeowner) required since the original installation of wire to deliver the
 power would be sufficient to handle the potential return load.

2) Making the electricity mesh with the grid (and turn off when work is being performed):  The current standards for power conditioning (making the produced power act like the 60 Hz, 220V power from the big company producers) is already required for small energy producers.  Not only do the current products for conditioning meet most retail electricity generator requirements, but the electricity is CLOSER to ideal in many cases.  Meaning the power from small producers tend to have better properties than that coming from the power companies. As for the question of safety, ALL small producers are required to use a transfer switch or cut production when the service line shows no voltage (power).  This means that all grid-tie systems shut down (produce no power) when the grid is down, or the producer installs a transfer switch, which isolates the home/small power producer from the grid, when the grid is down.  Again this is a REQUIREMENT for ALL
 currently installed systems.  This is also paid for BY the power producer, not the retail power company.  So there is NO infrastructure cost here either.

3) Your arguments on small producers requiring power at peak times appears backwards.  The small producers generally are using green methods (sun/wind) so at peak times of usages (mid day, hot, sunny), the small producers are providing the MOST help to the grid, LOWERING the production requirements of the retail generator.  Not only does the distributed producer provide much of their own power, but if they are in an efficient home, it is quite likely that they are easing the power requirements of the retail provider by providing excess electricity production to the grid at just these times.  The inclusion of distributed production from this view is that the retail producers will be able to scale back their production with the inclusion of distributed generation, not require more plants (regardless of power curve shapes).  Again, this should be a decrease in rates, not an increase in infrastructure costs.

4)  To account for distributed generation sometimes an extra power meter is required (under some contracts where the distributed generator expects to produce more than their use and would like to see some recouping of costs).  Here there is the cost of the second meter, which again I believe is under the burden of the distributed producer and not the retail power seller.  So this is not an infrastructure cost increase either, at worst it is a one-time cost to the distributed power producer for the unit and any replacement cost if the meter has issues.  This is about the ONLY place I can see where an argument of of infrastructure costs might be, IF (and this is a big IF) the retail power company decides to prorate the cost of the meter over its lifespan to include maintenance, and decided to take on that cost instead of a cost to to be borne by the distributed producer.

5) The bill as stated allows for the formation of a special rate payer class for those involved with distributed power generation (excluding back-up generation).  The idea of a special rate class (with the assumption of increasing the rates) is appalling for those interested in installing this type of power production.  As a last comment on (and to refute) why a special class might be required, what about the case where PART of the grid goes down and there is the installation of the infrastructure to handle rerouting of power to provide continuity to those on the grid without backup.  This type of system would be costly.  There is the switching for isolation and planning/management to route and deal with sub grid islands where sectors that are down can be routed around and provide power to others, while maintaining safety for those working on sub grid faults.  This will be an EXPENSIVE endeavor, but why would this require a special rate payer class.
  EVERYONE on the grid benefits from this distributed model and so why should those helping to provide power for sub grids be penalized for their contribution, shouldn't everyone who stands to benefit from this, help pay for the stability such a smart grid might supply?

The real problem with this bill (besides how out of touch with the alternative energy community it is), is the nebulous nature of "infrastructure costs".  This is an occluded line item and has no definitive listing of what would be allowed to charge under this label.  While one hopes that the Corporation Commission would require transparent  itemization of what these costs might be to ensure reasonable charging of the special class of distributed producers, it is unclear WHY they would need it (see my comments above).

While I am all for companies to gain profit for useful services, this law seems like a way for retail electricity providers to recoup losses from distributed generation providers under this "infrastructure" label and attempt to minimize the proliferation (and competition) from small distributed generators.  Until I can review what would be included under the "infrastructure" category, how can I think this is anything but a profit enhancement mechanism for retail electricity providers?

Isaac
On Wednesday, April 30, 2014 9:04 AM, Kelley C Smith <smithkc at riskiii.com> wrote:
 
Vicki,

Your coop is different from OG&E or PSO, yes. I am thinking Ozark is a distribution coop…. it does not own any generating units. It probably buys energy from a G&T coop, or somewhere. OG&E and PSO both own generation, transmission, and distribution facilities. Is that right? And, having to sell power on an unpredictable basis is different when there are  a small number of people "dropping in" for emergency power than when a significant portion of customers are doing that. THis is an issue that a distribution coop need not worry about. it's the generator's problem!

The type of generation unit built is determined by the "shape" of the load. That is, if all your customers are oil refineries which have a more or less constant power demand 24/7, you build a unit that can run flat out all year long…. well, no unit can do that, but you would build a "base load" generation station, high capital costs, low variable costs. If you need additional generation  for hot summer afternoons when people turn on air conditioning, then you build a "peaker" unit… usually something with a lower capital cost, and these invariably have higher variable (fuel) costs.  Base load stations simply cannot be run the way peaker units are. THe startup and shutdown is much more complex…..I could go on, but maybe an engineer will chime in here.

Also, on the distribution or power delivery side, there are costs associated with allowing people to sell power back to the utility. For example, say there is a bad storm that knocks some lines down. If the utility is the only party sending any power along the system, they know where to flip switches to make it safe for line crews to restore power. If various houses are selling power back, there are extra controls that have to be installed so that this power can be shut down in the case of repairs. 

Yes, as you point out, there could be a flat rate for all customers to pay for any costs associated with net metering One could argue that everyone would benefit from cleaner air from wind or solar power, and thus all should pay for net metering equipment (net metering is the term for charging a customer for their energy net of what they "trade" back to the utility) as just another little chunk of the customer charge. That would be one way to go about it.

Perhaps I've said more than enough, as I am not sure I have the complete info on the bill anyway. I am not necessarily defending any particular viewpoint, but electricity is a very complicated thing to buy and sell. I think solar and wind power are very interesting, and a lot depends on energy storage technology. Perhaps some affordable type of battery will come along, and the need to maintain an expensive distribution system will not be such a big deal.

I am afraid any bill that was hurried through the legislature sounds suspicious.

Kelley


On Apr 29, 2014, at 9:11 AM, "Vicke Adams" <vicke at vickeadams.com> wrote:

I don't know how OG&E or PSO operate since I have Ozark Electric which is a cooperative. Ozark does not pay for electricity put back on the grid. They also charge a minimum monthly amount of $25 regardless of how much electricity that you use. That is how they pay for infrastructure for minimal users. There are many summer cabins out here where I'm at. Those people pay $25 per month, every month, even on months they don't come out to their cabin. So, utility companies have already figured out how to provide for their infrastructure.
> 
>But let's look at an analogy to your argument. Toll roads are built and maintained by the people that pay to use them. There aren't different charges based on how much you use the road. They don't charge me if I opt to use the alternate roads for a few months. Would you give the Turnpikes the right to charge those who don't use it since they have to build and maintain it on an unpredictable basis?
> 
>I read somewhere that Governor Fallin's executive order implementing this law basically guts it. I've read the executive order, twice, and I have to admit that I don't understand what it says. If it guts the law, I'm not sure how.
>Vicke
> 
>From: Ok-sus [mailto:ok-sus-bounces at lists.oksustainability.org] On Behalf Of Kelley C Smith
>Sent: Monday, April 28, 2014 4:27 PM
>To: ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org
>Subject: Re: [Ok-sus] New clean energy tariff
> 
>I'm not sure I understand the bill, and I don't want to be an apologist for the fossil fuel industry… but, I think I should say something or at least ask a question…
> 
>When I looked, I thought the bill was imposing a sort of tax on those who had solar panels, etc. and who wanted to connect to the grid to sell power and to, when necessary, buy power. That is, if there is cloud cover for a few days, and a family's battery back-up is running low, they would want OG&E or PSO or someone to supply them some power for a while. Also, some people want to sell surplus power.
> 
>Asking a utility to be your back-up of last resort is asking quite a lot. How do they plan for this? Why should they build, and maintain generation, transmission, and distribution facilities to sell power on such an unpredictable basis? That's the question society must answer. 
> 
>Maybe I misunderstood, and I am not saying that OGE or PSO should get whatever they want (if indeed that's what this bill does), but we have to think about what it means to change from fossil fuel generation and how we deal with days when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine.
> 
>Perhaps a more equitable, and maybe more economical solution would be very small-scale portable gasoline or diesel generators. Or, perhaps we should look into every possible milliwatt of energy we can save and just not ask for back-up from the grid. It is a difficult question.
> 
>Kelley
> 
> 
>On Apr 27, 2014, at 5:52 PM, Stephanie Jeffords <buzzardroostranch at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
>This bill is a horrible infringement on our freedom and inalienable rights. 
>
>It might be advantageous to create a petition through change.org to have this bill repealed. 
>
>The bill obviously creates a double standard and feeds the oil and gas monopoly.  If our legislators can pass this bill to assess fees on our own
>solar and wind power, what else will they try to tax or make a law against, my garden vegetables so that Monsanto can have complete control of all crops?  
>Through despot bills and over taxation our legislators are destroying our small farms and ranches, the backbone of this country.
>
>We have legislators that are allowing the oil and gas industry to have absolute power or control of our state government. This is despotism and is addressed in the preamble to our 
>Declaration of Independence, which also states that:
>"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." 
>No where does it say that all corporations are created equal with inalienable rights.
>We can not have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, when our legislators engage in discriminatory, self-serving and over taxation to suppress new technology and innovations that would take us off our forced dependency on oil and gas.
>I will sign your petition!!
>Stephanie
> 
> 
> 
>On Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 8:15 PM, Vicke Adams <vicke at vickeadams.com> wrote:
>Is anyone else upset about the new fees that are now going to be assessed onOklahomans that have solar or wind energy? This legislature is not in touch with reality. How and why are they penalizing me for trying to be more sustainable, not to mention to have a source of energy when the grid is down? I am located in a very rural area. I spent over $6000 to have a small solar power system that provides electricity to a portion of my cabin, It allows me to keep functioning when the grid is down. Just this week the grid was down in my area for almost four hours. No storms, no explanations.But, now that same utility company will have the right to charge me a monthly fee because I have solar panels on my roof!
>I called my state representative and senator as well as others to ask them not to vote for this bill. I hope others were doing the same. What I fear is that this terrible bill was passed through both houses and signed by the governor today in such a slick, quiet way that most people probably don't even know it has happened. I keep waiting for the outrage but so far, I'm not seeing or hearing any coverage.
>What's up with this? I'm about ready to drive to the capitol and go office to office registering my displeasure with the entire place. Although, I fear that I would end up in jail and then who would be here to milk the goats that night?
>Vicke - One really unhappy Oklahoman
> 
>
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