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Comment: Re: Really? (Score 1) 492

by kenh (#48009299) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Solar cells on your roof simply are not cost competitive against utility company power. Period.

The requirement that utility company's buy your excess 'green' energy whenever you happen to have some at RETAIL prices artificially lowers the cost of rooftop photovoltaics.

Photovoltaics are not a substitute for a connection to the power grid *unless* you add a storage device to capture your excess electricity during the day so you can have power at night.

Comment: Re: Really? (Score 2) 492

by kenh (#48009237) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Yeah, Germany has it all figured out...

According to the New York Times (9-19-2013), not so much:

German families are being hit by rapidly increasing electricity rates, to the point where growing numbers of them can no longer afford to pay the bill. Businesses are more and more worried that their energy costs will put them at a disadvantage to competitors in nations with lower energy costs, and some energy-intensive industries have begun to shun the country because they fear steeper costs ahead.

Newly constructed offshore wind farms churn unconnected to an energy grid still in need of expansion. And despite all the costs, carbon emissions actually rose last year as reserve coal-burning plants were fired up to close gaps in energy supplies.

A new phrase, âoeenergy poverty,â has entered the lexicon.

Comment: Re: Not so.... (Score 2) 492

by kenh (#48009225) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Forcing your local power company to buy your excess electricity at retail prices is a subsidy, is that going away?

Are people paying full retail for their rooftop solar arrays? That is the measure of 'subsidies going away' - taking a 50% subsidy and dropping it to 40% isn't an example of subsidies 'going away'.

Comment: Re: Oh dear - money grows on trees... (Score 1) 492

by kenh (#48009189) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Spreading the cost of your lunch over a group of people that do not share in your lunch isn't cheaper, it's cheaper to your - when you factor in the cost of administering the spreading of the cost and the oversight of the subsidized lunch you are enjoying at a discount, the net total cost is actually greater...

Comment: Re: Utilities Fighting Back (Score 1) 492

by kenh (#48009145) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

"Decline" is not "dead", decline means a little less.

The federal subsidies that distort the market for home solar panels should end. Insulating buyers from the actual cost of solar panels removes incentives for industries to find more cost efficient technologies.

The requirements that utilities buy whatever random excess electricity you roof top solar cells happen to generate at a price far in excess of the cost the utility could generate it for needs to stop.

The power buyback program is insanity, nothing less. Consider this - imagine we were back at the turn of the last century, and buggy whips were a big industry. Then someone invents a home buggy whip machine which turns out buggy whips at a random rate. Now the government, bowing to the idea that poor people can't afford buggy whips decides to cover half the cost of every buggy whip machine purchased. Furthermore, the government decides that in order to help make buggy whips more affordable, buggy whip manufacturers are forced to pay above retail price for every excess buggy whip every home buggy whip machine produced.

When the buggy whip industry collapses, it wouldn't be because of the invention of the home buggy whip machine, it would be as a result of the federal and state regulations.

Comment: Profits a function of regulations (Score 1) 492

by kenh (#48009067) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

First off, the current system of forcing utilities to buy excess electricity generated by distributed photovoltaic cells at a premium is the one thing that likely will impact power company PROFITS. For those not familiar with this, in the US (at least, not sure of other markets) power companies buy your unused power you put on to the grid at a price that is above the retail price your neighbors will pay for their electricity from the utility. THAT policy, coupled with extremely generous incentives from the government is what makes photovoltaic cells an 'affordable' power source.

Second, utility company profit is typically regulated to be a percentage of revenues, and reduced sales (because of conservation, self-generation, or whatever) will reduce power company revenue, but profits will remain at the regulated percentage of revenue. (Back when AT&T was *the* phone company, they enjoyed a federally guaranteed profit of around 6% of revenue. They couldn't make more than 6% profit on phone service, but they could keep raising rates until they hit 6% profit. Six percent isn't an unreasonable profit, but when it is guaranteed, it is great. This helps explain why the phone company did so much research and paid such high salaries - these increased costs required increases in revenue, which increased profits.)

The thing that hurts the power company are the regulations, not the lost sales:

Install solar panels on your roof, gov't covers half of the cost (50% discount)

Generate electricity with those solar panels, sell the excess to power company at premium (retail plus) price.

Forcing the power company to buy electricity it doesn't want when it doesn't need it and can't predict or rely on it is what will kill their profits, not you buying less electricity on sunny days with your federally discounted solar panel array on the roof.

Comment: Or you could just... (Score 1) 231

by kenh (#47906295) Attached to: School Installs Biometric Fingerprint System For Cafeteria

Or you could just have the kids learn a 4 digit PIN, like the majority of schools in America do...

Honestly, the cashier has a keypad, the kid just types in their PIN after the cashier adds up their purchase, and the account is debited (unless the student is eligible for a free meal, in which case the student does the exact same thing, but no money is deducted from an account - thus removing the stigma of being from a low income family, at least as far as lunch in the cafeteria is concerned)...

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