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Stop the Utility Profit Grab

image credit: © Cinnamon Energy Systems - The Energy Show
Barry Cinnamon's picture
CEO Cinnamon Energy Systems

Barry Cinnamon heads up Cinnamon Energy Systesms (a San Jose CA residential and commercial solar and energy storage contractor) and Spice Solar (suppliers of built-in solar racking technology)....

  • Member since 2016
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  • Jul 7, 2021 11:45 am GMT
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6/30/21 News Story: “PG&E just asked regulators for a $3.6b rate hike to reduce fires from their own power lines”

Another “in your face” profit grab from a utility that blames rooftop solar for high electric rates. This rate increase works out to $36 per month for every homeowner in California! Do they think we’re stupid?

The biggest threat to rooftop solar and storage is not political. It’s not tariffs. Or product shortages. The biggest threat is from aggressive lobbying (which we pay via our electric bills) and outright lies from monopoly utilities.

It’s pretty simple: utilities are trying to prevent businesses and homeowners from installing their own solar and battery systems so they maximize their profits. They lie about rooftop solar and storage. Adding insult to injury, they are also trying to increase fees for customers who already have these systems. It’s an outright, blatant, anti-competitive profit grab that will harm all current and future solar + storage customers — while at the same time increasing monopoly utility profits. And our regulators have historically gone along with these profit grabs.

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Utilities invented their Big Lie to convince the public that they are the good guys, only trying to protect ratepayers. BS.

  • Did your electric rates go up because of rooftop solar? No — they went up because of high transmission costs and ridiculous utility executive salaries.
  • Are our wildfires caused by rooftop solar? No — the deadliest fires have been caused by inadequate transmission line maintenance.
  • Will paying utilities more money solve your home and business blackout problems any time soon? No — the fastest and cheapest way for you to get reliable power is with your own backup system.

Check out this short video for a more realistic perspective: We Can’t Trust Them

It is inconceivable to me that the California Public Utilities commission is considering another economic shift from homeowners, schools and businesses to a twice-bankrupt and criminal utility (PG&E) who already has a guaranteed 10% rate of return, who just raised electric rates by 11% this year — and is now asking for another $3.6 billion rate increase.

Specifically, California’s three monopoly utilities want to:

  • Add monthly fixed charges to solar customer bills,
  • Reduce solar reimbursement rates,
  • Eliminate annual net metering, and
  • Change net metering grandfathering for existing solar customers.

The only way to stop this utility profit grab is for homeowners and businesses to call out this Big LieL

  • Tell Governor Newsom that increasing solar costs is absolutely the wrong way to solving our electricity problems.
  • Tell the California Public Utilities Commission that paying PG&E even more money is unfair to all ratepayers.
  • Tell them both that we need more local solar and storage, not more expensive long-distance transmission lines that cause wildfires and perpetually high maintenance costs.

Take action now:

lease join us on this week’s Energy Show Podcast. We’ll go through the specific changes monopoly utilities want, the falsehoods behind their Big Lie, and steps we all need to take before the utility profit grab goes into effect.

 

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Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on Jul 12, 2021

In Africa , there is a business model for RE projects called Pay -AS- You- Go , in which customer pays to the provider after consumption . Here is the opposite , where Utilities ask customers to pay even before they consume electricity. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 12, 2021

"Another 'in your face' profit grab from a utility that blames rooftop solar for high electric rates."

That's one way to look at the situation, Barry. Here's another:

"Time to end the 'in your face' profit grab by wealthy customers who have been financing their costly, inefficient hobby at the expense of those who can't afford their own solar arrays - much less private homes in Marin County on which to mount them."

The answer is simple: go off-grid. No one is forced to pay for PG&E electricity.

Dudley McFadden's picture
Dudley McFadden on Jul 13, 2021

You imply but don't establish why it is morally wrong for a business to make a profit.  Companies which don't earn a profit pay no taxes and go out of business.  Millions of human beings have their retirement savings invested in for-profit companies.  I hope PG&E does well and earns a profit.  Actually, they are entitled by law to earn a fixed profit in exchange for monopoly status.  That's long-established law, it's not a power grab. Finally, net metering has been well established time and time again and again as inherently unfair to the majority of utility customers who don't own their own home and are unable to install solar panels.  If you owned an orange tree in your backyard and took a bushel of oranges into the local supermarket, would you demand the supermarket pay you the retail price for your oranges?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 14, 2021

Dudley, it's refreshing to read the post of someone who views personal power consumption in the context of its financial impact on society.

I also use the supermarket analogy when explaining the injustice of net-metering programs. Somehow, those offended by corporate "power grabs" feel free to engage in a power grab when it's to their own benefit.
 

Jamey Johnston's picture
Jamey Johnston on Jul 13, 2021

Barry is spot on -- we need more people on the side of what is right. The Utility's lobbying organization, the Edison Electric Institute, identified solar as a disruptive threat to their monopoly in 2013. They set out to undermine solar's progress in every state in the Union. It's wrong, wrong, wrong, and will affect America's future in ways that few can contemplate! 

Jamey Johnston's picture
Jamey Johnston on Jul 13, 2021

One thing that people often overlook -- a monopoly is not eternal. A hub-and-spoke architecture is not the be-all, end-all for getting power to homes. It is old-fashioned and terribly expensive. 

I understand that people in the power business will push back against solar, but their methods and objectives could be considered inconsistent with a healthy future for not just America, but the entire world. This is a big deal, and there will be a fight. No doubt about it. 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 13, 2021

Seemed a bit short sighted too, as the reality of rooftop solar is here to stay whether utilities want it or not. You'd think they'd try to set up some sort of 'solar as a service' type program that leases the panels to rooftops, gives households a cut of the generation revenue, etc. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 14, 2021

"A hub-and-spoke architecture is not the be-all, end-all for getting power to homes."

If by "be-all, end-all" you mean the only way to get power to homes, that's correct: there are other ways to get power to homes.

However, a hub-and-spoke architecture, aka one of radial topology, is the most efficient way to allow the most people access to reliable power, in all financial, physical, and environmental manifestations of the word "efficient".

Financial, because it involves the least investment in the hardware necessary to supply power. Though you may be proud of your personal investment in a $30,000 solar array, thanks to a federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and other state subsidies at least $9,000 of its cost was paid by taxpayers who receive no direct financial benefit from your solar array.

Physical, because unless you live in a remote area it's far more energy-efficient to simply hook up to the same wire that's bringing electricity to your neighbors than generate your own. With some combination of grid connection, solar panels, and storage, the multiple conversions of low-voltage AC-DC, DC-AC (with NEM) and DC power to electrochemical storage waste far more in resistance losses than an area-wide, 350 kilovolt, three-phase AC grid bringing you the same amount of power.

Environmental, because all of those physical losses translate to more fossil fuel burned to generate electricity. There is more fossil fuel burned to manufacture and transport your solar panels, there is more waste when they're thrown away. If you're generating backup power from a diesel or gas generator, per unit of power you're generating far more emissions than the same power generated en masse at a combined-cycle power plant; even more if your grid has a large percentage of nuclear and/or utility solar/wind generation.

Moreover, as carbon-free sources are added to a grid, it's more efficient, faster, and more effective to add them for everyone at a power plant than persuade and regulate millions of independent polluters to upgrade their power systems one at a time.

Allowing you to generate your own power is not just a matter of respecting your personal freedom. It's also a matter of respecting the freedom of everyone on the planet who must share the impact of your emissions and consumption.

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