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Are Utility Companies Out to Destroy Solar's 'Rooftop Revolution'?
Capitalism never tolerates competition especially if they offer a better product.
Quote: Published on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 by Common Dreams

Are Utility Companies Out to Destroy Solar's 'Rooftop Revolution'?

In California, customers who install solar systems and battery arrays are finding themselves cut off from grid

- Jon Queally, staff writer

In California and elsewhere, utilities see a rooftop solar revolution as fundemental threat. (Photo: shutterstock)In the nation's largest state, California, the major utility companies are trying to limit growth.
Of rooftop solar panels, that is.
According to reporting by Bloomberg, the state's three largest utilitiesEdison International, PG&E Corp. and Sempra Energyare "putting up hurdles" to homeowners who have installed sun-powered energy systems, especially those with "battery backups wired to solar panels," in order to slow the spread of what has become a threat to their dominant business model.
"The utilities clearly see rooftop solar as the next threat," Ben Peters, a government affairs analyst at solar company Mainstream Energy Corp., told Bloomberg. "They're trying to limit the growth."
According to Peters, as the business news outlet reports, the dispute between those with solar arrays and the utility giants "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."
Citing but one example, Bloomberg reports:
Matthew Sperling, a Santa Barbara, California, resident, installed eight panels and eight batteries at his home in April.
"We wanted to have an alternative in case of a blackout to keep the refrigerator running," he said in an interview. Southern California Edison rejected his application to link the system to the grid even though city inspectors said "it was one of the nicest they'd ever seen," he said.
"We've installed a $30,000 system and we can't use it," Sperling said.
The utilities argue that customers with solar energy-storing batteries might be rigging the system by fraudulently storing conventional energy sent in from the utility grid, storing it in the batteries, and then sending it back to the grid for credit. The solar companies say there is no proof that this is happening.
What environmentalists and solar energy advocates see is the utility companies putting barriers up to a decentralized system they will not no longer be able to control or profit from.
As Danny Kennedy, author of the book "Rooftop Revolution" and co-founder of solar company Sungevity in California, said in an interview with Alternet earlier this year:
Solar power represents a change in electricity that has a potentially disruptive impact on power in both the literal sense (meaning how we get electricity) and in the figurative sense of how we distribute wealth and power in our society. Fossil fuels have led to the concentration of power whereas solar's potential is really to give power over to the hands of people. This shift has huge community benefits while releasing our dependency on the centralized, monopolized capital of the fossil fuel industry. So it's revolutionary in the technological and political sense.
As this Sierra Club video shows, the idea of a 'rooftop revolution' is fundamental to what many see as the most promising development in terms of undermining the dominance of the fossil fuel paradigm in the U.S.:

The tensions between decentralized forms of energy like rootop solar or small-scale wind and traditional large-scale utilities is nothing new, but as the crisis of climate change has spurred a global grassroots movement push for a complete withdrawal from the fossil fuel and nuclear paradigm that forms the basis of the current electricity grid, these tensions are growing.
As this segment from a PBS profile of the work of Lester Brown shows, a future of a society based on renewable energy shows what's possible:

But the resistance to these changes is coming strongest from those with a vested interest in the status quo. With most focus on the behavior of the fossil fuel companies themselves, the idea that utility companies will be deeply impacted by this green energy revolution is often overlooked.
Earlier this summer, David Roberts, an energy and environmental blogger at, wrote an extensive, multi-part series on the role of utilities in the renewable energy transition, explaining why understanding the politics and economics of the utility industry (despite the grand "tedium" of the task) will be essential for the remainder of the 21st century. Roberts wrote:
There's very little public discussion of utilities or utility regulations, especially relative to sexier topics like fracking or electric cars. That's mainly because the subject is excruciatingly boring, a thicket of obscure institutions and processes, opaque jargon, and acronyms out the wazoo. Whether PURPA allows IOUs to customize RFPs for low-carbon QFs is actually quite important, but you, dear reader, don't know it, because you fell asleep halfway through this sentence. Utilities are shielded by a force field of tedium.
It's is an unfortunate state of affairs, because this is going to be the century of electricity. Everything that can be electrified will be. (This point calls for its own post, but mark my words: transportation, heat, even lots of industrial work is going to shift to electricity.) So the question of how best to manage electricity is key to both economic competitiveness and ecological sustainability.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
One of the recurring sponsors of televised San Francisco GIANTS baseball games aired in the S.F Bay
Area is a solar power company whose official spokesperson also happens to be a well-known (trusted?)
local baseball announcer. In his taped advertisements this fellow genially boasts that he hasn't
paid a utility bill in years and assures viewers that they, too, can "say goodbye" to skyrocketing
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) bills by "going solar" themselves.
Now, it may well be that PG&E (which is the sole purveyor of natural gas and electricity in the Bay Area) has capitulated to this region's habitual innovative streak and therefore abandoned any attempts to thwart the advancement of solar power in the Bay Area, but take a look at what [the late] Gore Vidal (-a "rich-and-famous" man) endured when he benevolently took his Hollywood Hills home off L.A.'s overburdened grid:

[Image: GVsolar_zpsa2179386.jpg]
The rest of the story is here:
If the best rationale they can come up with is "The utilities argue that customers with solar energy-storing batteries might be rigging the system by fraudulently storing conventional energy sent in from the utility grid, storing it in the batteries, and then sending it back to the grid for credit." that is pretty one could not make any profit on doing that. It would be equivalent to buying 100 of some item in a store and returning 75 of them - repeatedly. What profit would one make?! Some energy is lost in storage, besides. They are using the kind of Physics NIST used in 9-11.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass

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