Letter to the Editor from Mark Hagerty, President, Michigan Solar Solutions
The Michigan Senate is going to be debating a revision in Michigan’s energy plan. An expressed concern is customers who have installed solar electric power and are enrolled in the states Net Metering plan and are subsidized by the rest of us. Another expressed concern is smaller solar arrays are not cost effective and it takes larger utility size solar arrays to make it cost effective.
These concerns come right out of the utility companies play book which they have perfected in states like Arizona and Hawaii over the last several years.
Here is the other side of the story;
– Net metering requires the customer put their extra peak demand electricity onto the grid. This is electricity that is produced midday when the sun is out. This is the most expensive electricity for the utility company to produce. It requires ‘peaker’ plants to be remotely turned on so they can meet the high demands of peak load. At night when the same customer pulls the power off of the grid, they are using off peak electricity. This is the least expensive electricity to produce and can be supplied by base load capacity of the larger plants. Additionally midday when the grid is hot its resistance goes up, so it takes the utility company more generation power to deliver power to your home. The utility companies successfully demonstrated to the Michigan Public Services Commission that peak power is much more expensive, so the MPSC granted the utility companies the ability to charge Time-of-Day rates. If you are on TOD rates you see that you pay 50% more for the peak demand power, which the utility companies can receive from net metering customers for a fraction of your cost. The net metering law that gives retail rates for power sent to the grid, not peak rates, already benefits the utility company. The reason the utility companies do not support net metering is not because the larger utility scale projects are more efficient, like they have stated. Who are they to tell you that the 8%+ you will earn on your smaller solar array is not cost effect? It is because they lose control of a small portion of electricity generation. They see it as the camel’s nose is under the tent, and have developed a play book to attack it.
– Having distributed solar arrays strengthens the grid by supplying power when the utility companies have issues meeting peak demand. Enough distributed solar will eliminate brown outs and black outs by supplying the power when the utility company cannot. The grid in southwest Detroit fails almost every year because of its inability to meet peak demand. A couple years ago Ferndale went black for a few days because of the grid’s inability to meet the peak demand. Enough residential and small commercial arrays would have cured this problem
– A distributed generation grid is much more resilient against terrorist strikes.
– Many people are buying electric cars. This will tax an already over taxed grid. The first year Volt took 16kWh, the new Tesla will take over 100kWh.
– With the closing of the coal plants to meet new EPA Clean Air guidelines, who is going to volunteer for a new power plant to go in their back yard?
It is time for every one of us to get ahold of our state senator and let them know that we hope they stand with the 70% of Michigan’s residence who support privately owned solar and true net metering and not the utility companies agenda.
Click Here to be introduced to Michigan Solar Solutions