Lead article in the San Francisco Chronicle today addresses how non-solar customers of Pacific Gas & Electric are already carrying a larger burden of the network costs for that utility, costs which are reflected in their rates. This is the beginning of the “death spiral” process I addressed in my podcast. As is predictable, PG&E is trying to use the California Public Utilities Commission and regulatory capture to defend their market position. As Tony Seba has observed, energy utilities simply do not know how to compete. Instead, they do this kind of thing:
For more than two years, SolarCity Corp. has been trying to launch an experiment that could change the way we power our homes.
The San Mateo company has installed battery packs in more than 100 houses throughout California, each pack linked to rooftop solar panels. The lithium-ion batteries, made by Tesla Motors, store electricity from the panels during the day for use at night.
That combination – solar on the roof, batteries in the basement – could one day revolutionize the energy industry, undercutting traditional utility companies.
So the utilities, SolarCity says, are fighting back.
California’s big electricity providers are dragging their feet on connecting the batteries to the grid and charging steep fees – nearly $3,700 per customer, in some cases – to do so, according to SolarCity.
That’s from The San Francisco Chronicle‘s edition of today.
Two related articles there:
As I mentioned in the podcast, this will eventually happen to all utilities and forms of fossil fuel energy, whether or not the U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan survives another Presidential administration or Congresses. Fossil fuels and utilities are themselves becoming stranded assets.