Trend Watch: Utilities Showing Teeth To Rooftop Solar Advocates

utilitites show teeth shark photo

Great White Shark shows its teeth. Image

For years we've read reports of power companies dragging their feet on allowing implementers of home solar and wind systems to grid link: usually the opposition has been rationalized with 'it's for the safety of our workers.' (I still hear this trotted out, even where means for cutting the link during an outage are mandatory by building code.) With Federal and state incentives for renewable power spreading, and especially with the cost of solar panels going down now, rooftop solar installs are growing by leaps and bounds. Utilities everywhere can be expected to use their lobbying muscle to fight this trend. Newsweek has an example of just such lobbying in Colorado.I expect this issue to become especially common in States with high solar generation potential.

Via Newsweek: Taking a Dim View of Solar Energy - Who could possibly be against homeowners using solar panels to power their homes? Utility companies.

In 2008, 33,500 rooftop solar systems were installed in the United States, a 63 percent increase over the amount of capacity installed in 2007. In California, the solar capital of country, the increase was 95 percent....The disparity has utilities worried about loosing their grip on the country's energy industry, and the $130 billion residential electricity market. In some cases, utilities are actually taking direct steps to thwart rooftop solar. Two weeks ago in Colorado, the state's biggest utility, Xcel, tried passing a surcharge on homes and businesses using rooftop solar power. The public went ballistic, and with pressure from Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, the proposal was eventually shelved.
Consumers who stay on the grid face a long continuing fight just to have the right to make power on their own homes. Utilities will lobby at the State, at the county, and at the local level to protect their markets. And, if that does not work, they will make stuff up relative to supposed property value degradation, increased risk to public safety, fire hazard, architectural standards being violated, and so on. Anything to get on the news.

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