Utilities say battery-stored solar could breed fraud as solar users sell utility-generated power back to utilities

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

California’s three biggest utilities are sparring with their own customers about systems that store energy from the sun, opening another front in the battle that’s redefining the mission of electricity generators.

Edison International, PG&E Corp. and Sempra Energy said they’re putting up hurdles to some battery backups wired to solar panels because they can’t be certain the power flowing back to the grid from the units is actually clean energy.

The dispute threatens the state’s $2 billion rooftop solar industry and indicates the depth of utilities’ concerns about consumers producing their own power. People with rooftop panels are already buying less electricity, and adding batteries takes them closer to the day they won’t need to buy from the local grid at all, said Ben Peters, a government affairs analyst at Mainstream Energy Corp., which installs solar systems.

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14 responses to “Utilities say battery-stored solar could breed fraud as solar users sell utility-generated power back to utilities

  1. Are these people literally retarded? You buy electricity from the utilities at retail prices. If you generate more than you draw you can sell the excess back at wholesale prices. Charging batteries and then discharging them back into the grid would be a massive loss. This sort of story is a trick common to the electrical/technical help industry. Just say a bunch of sciency sounding words and count on your customer not knowing what you’re talking about.

    • I am not sure how using batteried would help anybody. I thought solar users got paid retail for their energy, about 12¢ per hour (not including transmission fees) – but if you purchase power from the Utility it costs 18 – 28 cents depending on how much you have used. I don’t see how you make a profit arbitraging the utilities power system unless they pay a heck a lot more for the solar power.

  2. “Net metering is the lifeblood of solar in America,” Peters said. “That’s why this seemingly inconsequential issue is getting so much attention.”

    Nothing has changed. Without favorable government intervention, solar fails.

    K. So I set up a solar panel and some batteries. Then I get me a diesel generator and sell electricity to the local utility for 4X retail price. SWEEEEEEET!

    • and that diesel fuel costs how much?

      • Dunno. But I’m sure I could generate electricity for less than 4X retail.

        • You are going to be in the range of $240/MWh to produce electricity with diesel. Heat rate ~9500 Btu/kW, 138,000 Btu/gal. That’s just the fuel cost, not equipment, housing, and other operating costs.

          • I did a little looking on duh net for a diesel generator. You’re right. Quick math says about a gallon per hour per kilowatt. 4 bucks an hour for fuel vs 0.40 payback from utility company.

            Guess I need to find another way to get rich.

          • So what I wonder now is what are the California utilities afraid of? If you can’t make your own electricity for under 40c per kwh, why do they have a fear of people selling electricity back to them?

            “they’re putting up hurdles to some battery backups wired to solar panels because they can’t be certain the power flowing back to the grid from the units is actually clean energy.”

            NFW PG&E cares whether it is “clean” energy.

            • A little slow today. I just figured it out. You use grid power to charge up the batteries, then sell it back at 4X what you paid for it.

            • You know your generation idea – you could do it like this – but it would be a bit of an investment. Get the solar panels and claim you are using battery backup – and then purchase a home fuel cell. The cost about 60 grand, but you get 1/3 back from subsidies and they run on Natural gas and propane and are aproximately 60% efficient at producing power. You might be able to get your money back that way.

              Utilities are upset for two reasons. They don’t want to pay these eco nuts retail, and if they send back the power using batteries, they will probably send it back when the utiities need the pwer least. So it gets wasted.

            • benofhouston

              You could pretty easily charge your batteries on grid power (or through your neighbor’s grid power) and discharge them at night, getting a tidy sum daily. And there was a Spanish scam where subisdies were so generou that a solar plant made money buying a diesel generator to shine lights on their panels

              http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/13/the-insanity-of-greenery/

          • Raw oil is aproximately 5x the cost of coal and Natural gas when you look at it from a $ per btu perspective. That is why I find it funny that folks put up solar panels and say they are saving us from foriegn fuel. It is much too expensive to use Diesel/Gas/Oil for power generation for most purposes – granted if you are in the middle of the woods in Alaska – it is a different story.

  3. If they went off grid, that would be fine with me. The problem now is that they stay on grid and expect the utilities to cover their costs and bail them out on those days and times when they can’t produce.

    The solar folks pay nothing into the system yet require a 92% backup for their solar power – so us poor people have to pay it.

    Let them get their batteried, but then make them go off grid

    The solar folks pay nothing into the system yet require a 92% backup for their solar power – so us poor people have to pay it.

    Let them get their batteried, but then make them go off grid.

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