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‘Old Energy’ Utilities See Rising Threat from Solar

Brad Plumer : “If you ask the people who run America’s electric utilities what keeps them up at night, a surprising number will say solar power. Specifically, rooftop solar.”  

“Solar power provides just 0.4 percent of electricity in the United States — a minuscule amount.”  

“But utilities see things differently. As solar technology gets dramatically cheaper, tens of thousands of Americans are putting photovoltaic panels up on their roofs, generating their own power. At the same time, 43 states and Washington DC have ‘net metering’ laws that allow solar-powered households to sell their excess electricity back to the grid at retail prices.”  

“That’s a genuine problem for utilities. All these solar households are now buying less and less electricity, but the utilities still have to manage the costs of connecting them to the grid. Indeed, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory argues that, without policy changes, this trend could soon put utilities in dire financial straits. If rooftop solar were to grab 10 percent of the market over the next decade, utility earnings could decline as much as 41 percent.”  

solar price plummet.0 Old Energy Utilities See Rising Threat from Solar Reuters :  “Although U.S. utilities have yet to feel a financial sting from solar’s rise, they are leery of a future in which the burden of maintaining their delivery systems is spread among a smaller number of customers.”  

“Last year, Arizona became the first U.S. state to introduce a solar tax after the state regulator let its main utility … charge 70 cents per kilowatt, or about $5 per month for most households, to those on the grid who use solar … several other states are considering similar proposals, or have pledged to reform electricity rates to address the rise of distributed generation.”  

“‘Distributed generation could be the end of utilities as we know them today,’ U.S. investment research firm Morningstar said earlier this year. ‘Utilities’ centralized network monopolies break down when customers become self-sufficient competitors.'”

Topics: wonk-wire