Is this industry BS, or is there something to this claim?
The power companies do actually have somewhat of a point but, in many ways, the issues are very similar to what's going on with internet technologies.
Part of your electric bill goes to maintaining the electric grid and the LV (Low Voltage) network that serves your neighborhood. Suppose there are 10 homes on an LV network and 2 of them install 7,000 watt solar arrays. Now the cost of maintaining the LV network has to be split among 8 homes instead of 10. At first that wasn't any big deal but, as more people add solar power, the power companies still have to maintain the grid and enough excess capacity to make up the shortfall on a cloudy day. As the use of solar power starts going up geometrically, it is really pounding the snot out of your local power company (not that they don't deserve a little of it).
So let's suppose we charge everyone a connect fee for grid maintenance. That covers the cost of maintaining transmission systems, LV networks and excess unused capacity. It will also raise the cost of utilities for the poorest fraction of society. I was shocked to learn that there is a large segment of utility customers who use very little electricity. A connect fee would, for many of them, be a significant price increase.
Some of these problems can be mitigated by smart grid technologies. Now we get into a pissing contest between utility companies and regulators about who is going to pay for the upgrade. Utility companies want the government to pick up the tab, even though that wasn't the deal when they were granted a monopoly. Just like telecos want the government to upgrade the internet so they can step back in and reap the profits. Free market corporate welfare. Utilities are hesitant to invest money in a rapidly diminishing market.
This points out one of the big reasons why privatizing utilities is such a monstrously bad idea. Once profit becomes the prime driver of utilities, the greater good is completely out the window.