First, the front page Washington Post story about utilities' campaign against rooftop solar. This issue has been swirling about since 2012. In June of that year, several consumer groups got together to file comments on FERC's transmission incentives docket in reply to Edison Electric Institute's holier-than-thou bullying to get its own way to continue, and even increase, incentive (subsidies) for new transmission builds.
Because transmission is such a long-term asset, we must be extremely mindful of
how new projects relate to each other to achieve comprehensive energy policy goals. If we continue to approach transmission as a hodgepodge, knee-jerk reaction to serve short-term goals and provide sustainable revenue streams to investor-owned utilities, we risk setting ourselves up for a possible future where a huge investment in transmission becomes the financial responsibility of a shrinking pool of ratepayers. Technological advances and affordability are making it possible for an increasing number of consumers to produce their own power and feed it into the local distribution grid by making their own smart, fuel-free, power producing investments. Energy efficiency and demand management gains continue to shatter future demand projections, further decreasing the need for billions of dollars of investment in new transmission infrastructure.
In September of 2012, EEI held a pow-wow to talk about how they were going to manage this strange, new world where their control of the electricity-consuming public was going to erode with alarming alacrity. Instead of approaching the problem honestly, EEI preferred to use its power, money and influence to try to find ways to kill distributed generation, instead of getting on the wagon and finding a way to turn it into a profitable business model.
In early 2013, EEI produced a white paper addressing what it termed "disruptive challenges" heralding doom and gloom for their stable of investor owned utilities.
And the battle lines were drawn.
Solar advocates have created their own issues, with polarized insistence that their use of the distribution system to sell their excess back to the utilities should be free, and that they provide so many benefits to the system that they should actually be paid more for avoided costs.
Because utilities are so bloated and focused on building more infrastructure from which they derive their profits, a shrinking pool of ratepayers increases the costs to the ones who don't install solar. Utilities crying about the burden placed on "the poor" is ludicrous and hard to stomach.
There has been no middle ground, and messaging on both sides is pretty ridiculous. Too much rhetoric causes increased polarization that stymies progress and the eventual realization of our energy future. Can't we get it together here, and effect a reasonable compromise?
Otherwise, the utilities can continue their self-destructive initiative to have it all, while solar advocates can disconnect from the public utility grid and build their own system to share their excess. Seems kinda silly, doesn't it? Where's King Solomon when you need him?