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And, local solar jacks up customer electricity prices

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And, local solar jacks up customer electricity prices

Burr, 12 – editor in chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly (Michael, “Rooftop Tsunami; Utilities sound the alarm as PV nears grid parity” PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY, July, lexis)
From the utility's point of view, a growing wave of rooftop PV projects is starting to look ominous. And now, some utilities are taking action to shore up their defenses--advocating legislative and regulatory changes that pull back net metering policies and other solar incentives. Concerns focus in part on operational challenges from integrating dispersed generation that's variable, non-dispatchable, and sometimes beyond the utility's ability to control. But the biggest worry seems to involve the prospect of a fixed-costs dilemma, which I addressed in this column last issue. (see "Facing Facts," Fortnightly, June 2012). The shorthand is this: As PV gets cheaper, an increasing number of PV-owning customers will pay less than their fair share of utility system costs, leaving a shrinking number of non-solar customers to pick up the tab for keeping the lights on. Although PV's market penetration is tiny today, it's growing rapidly enough to raise real concerns for many utilities.¶ "Distributed generation is becoming one of the largest subsidies on our system," said Ron Litzinger, president of Southern California Edison, during a panel discussion at this year's Edison Electric Institute Annual Convention. "That subsidy tends to go from low-income to higher-income customers. We need to make sure all the costs of distributed generation are known before decisions are made.¶ "Left unchecked, we could see rates increase by 40 to 50 percent by 2020, which we know isn't sustainable."

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