CPUC commissioner proposes use of storage systems

Would minimize greenhouse gas emissions, avoid fossil fuel utility plants

Carla Peterman, a commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), proposed today (June 10) that the commission begin a proceeding to look into whether or not utilities should adopt energy storage systems. She notes in the proposal that new technologies have enhanced the capabilities of such systems. "Energy storage has the potential to transform how the California electric system is conceived, designed and operated," she writes. Energy storage could optimize the grid "to avoid or defer investments in new fossil fuel-powered plants, integrating renewable power, and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions." She believes that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced to 80% below 1990 levels.

Her proposal will be discussed at length. Comments are due July 3 and reply comments July 19. "There will be back and forth fighting about the proposal," says Nicole Capretz, associate director of the National City-based Environmental Health Coalition. She thinks the proposal is an excellent one: "If utilities have to store energy, it increases the value of rooftop solar."

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If the CPUC does not want to be replaced completely they need to start thinking outside the old traditional energy model; instead of everyone buying energy from the Utility we should all be producing enough of it for our own use and also some sell back into the grid. + CA will begin to install massive amounts of solar as soon as the CPUC tells the Utilities to pay home owners the same amount they pay themselves for energy generated (at the time it is generated), until then the Utilities will continue to rip off ratepayers and keep them in energy Slavery!

Founder: The utilities are fighting net energy metering and also want a stricter cap placed on solar installations. This is very sad. You are correct: every household should have maximum energy independence. This means more rooftop solar and storage capability. It may mean lower profits and stock prices for utilities -- at least in the long run -- but reduction of greenhouse gases and more widespread use of solar are far more important. This is another way of saying that future generations are more important than next quarter's profits for utilities. For just once, can't our civilization triumph over greed? Best, Don Bauder

"For just once, can't our civilization triumph over greed?" THAT IS INDEED A MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION YOU ASK DON.

One most important reality check answer was written by John Maddox, late editor of "Nature" who wrote a most important book before he passed on, "What Remains to be Discovered" where he discussed in his chapter "Avoidance of Calamity":

"Unconventional sources of energy, although free from CO2 emission, are physically incapable in the next century of substituting for any but a small part of present energy consumption. ----

Is the planet (in the anthropomorphic sense), and are national governments in particular prepared to accept the implications the small armies of scientists will be required to remove persisting uncertainties and to devise effective strategies for the avoidance of calamity? The experience of recent years in rich countries is not encouraging. Research communities are everywhere under pressure to be more ‘relevant,’ usually understood to mean that they should assist with national competitiveness in the production and sale of tangible traded goods. ----

Yet preparedness requires that these activities should be supported on a scale, and with a vigor, that is likely to meet the unknown needs. That is on sign that the rhetoric of survival is not matched by resolution. ----

Worse, the strategies eventually adopted internationally are usually burdened by the compromises required to override the vested interests of many of the participants. ----

In reality, there is no reason why any of the potential calamities now foreseen, even the most scary among them, cannot be avoided. But avoidance requires vigilance and courage. Will we have enough?” THAT IS THE #1 QUESTION

Anon92107: If utilities such as SDG&E had any brains, they would make a huge investment in solar themselves, rather than fighting it or trying to squeeze unconscionable profits out of it, thwarting its development and enraging the public. But they could never do it. They have to beat Wall Street earnings per share estimates every quarter. They can't think long term. That is greed. Best, Don Bauder

Seems like everything associated with the utility industry has become corrupt beyond belief, especially including CPUC and UCAN who were supposed to protect us, the worst treason of all.

Hopefully, you and the READER can save the people from skyrocketing rates that the San Onofre disaster created.

Founder: Agreed. We should have household energy independence to the greatest extent possible. Rooftop solar and storage systems are the answers. For once, let's think of future generations ahead of next quarter's profits for utilities. Best, Don Bauder

Why Not Energy Freedom Instead of Ratepayer $lavery

Ratepayers want low cost, SAFE energy and Solar is now ready to provide it.

There are only three things standing in the way of FIXING our energy problem:

Our powerful Utilities, who want to keep us in Energy Slavery, so that we will be forced to purchase our energy from them instead of producing it ourselves for FREE (after the initial payback).

Our appointed regulators, who have a too cozy relationship with the very Utilities they regulate! They have been putting Utility shareholder profits ahead of following their sworn mandate and demanding that our "public" utilities provide energy to US at the lowest cost possible! Example: Why should Utilities be allowed to rip off residential solar panel owners by not reimburse them for the energy they add to the grid at the very same rate that the Utility pays itself when it adds energy to the grid? This would "level" the energy playing field and greatly reduce the payback periods of owning your own panels, which would make installing solar even a better deal!

Our Political Leaders are beholden to the Powerful Utilities because of their large Utility donations and have been until recently hesitant to propose changes to "how the energy game is played" but now with a shrinking economy, the public resistance to ever higher energy costs and record Utility shareholder profits, energy is becoming a HOT political issue that Political Leaders cannot ignore any longer, if they want to stay in office or get elected.

Founder: All three points are valid. Utilities want to thwart solar for the sake of their own profits. Regulators are too cozy with the utilities, and are violating their mandate. Politicians are beholden to utility lobbyists. Best, Don Bauder

Tip of the hat to Carla Peterman for thinking differently!

With San Onofre shut down, the CPUC should be raising the qualification bar for who can get money (already collected and setting in a CPUC account) to install energy retrofits which should include solar panels!

Also the administration of these same programs should be fixed at no more than 10 to 15 % of the total amount of energy retrofits installed per year, so that they are no longer just additional fiefdoms for bureaucrats. Last year as much was spent on administration as was spent doing installations and that is unforgivable!

Founder: Yes, I have been hoping for some time that the new commissioners, including Peterman, would smash the pro-utility bias of the commission and launch initiatives that help consumers. Peterman may be leading the way. Best, Don Bauder

Very Important Article about why Solar is such a threat to all US Utilities, especially SCE and SDG&E.

Think of it as a Fiscal Energy War for Energy market share:

Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business

http://www.eei.org/ourissues/finance/Documents/disruptivechallenges.pdf

Founder: Yes, this article clearly shows that utilities fear that solar threatens their future. It is worth reading. The Edison Electric Institute represents the utilities. This shows that the utilities are scared. Good. Best, Don Bauder

Energy storage has always had a "holy grail" quality about it. From an engineering standpoint, it has always been possible, and some rather odd ways of storing energy have been devised and used. All of them involve a substantial energy loss when converting into and out of the stored mode, and many are also expensive. An example is these wonderfully high-tech hybrid cars that still rely on lead-acid batteries to chemically store the saved energy. More recently there have been reports of how capacitors may be the wave of the future, using new materials and techniques to boost their storage capacities many times over. Theoretically, capacitors will never wear out from being used, and they have the advantage of storing the energy as electrical charge. If those can be made to work as hoped, the ability of even the homeowner to store up solar power while the sun shines and then use it later during darkness or cloudy days could be enhanced greatly. Do keep in mind that while photo-voltaic cells produce direct current, our domestic uses employ alternating current, and the conversion from DC to AC also involves losses. It's not a simple subject, and all that gear doesn't come cheaply.

Visduh: No question. Energy storage can be expensive. On the other hand, technological progress is being made rapidly. If homeowners can have rooftop solar and reasonably priced storage capacity, utilities will have to change their business models -- drastically, perhaps. Best, Don Bauder

Solar electric generation will be a game changer for some utilities and for some users, but not for all. Residential solar will be a big deal in the Sunbelt, but not all the US is so favored with clear sunny days. In fact there are parts of the US--think of the northwest, along the Seattle-Portland axis--that get very little sunshine during a typical year. Then there are heavy industrial users of electricity that cannot, by any means, have sufficient solar panels to power their machinery or kettles or compressors. They will remain dependent upon power plants, presumably fossil fueled, for a long time.

Just here in SD County, the value of panels will be quite different depending upon how close to the coast you reside. A roof full of panels in, say, Encinitas, will produce far less current than the same number of panels just five, ten, or fifteen miles inland. Ramona would be a great place for solar! But there are some commercial users (single-story warehouses with flat roofs), and some institutional users (think schools) that can make good use of them, too.

Perhaps much of the antics we've already seen from Edison and Sempra show a clear realization on their part that they will soon be in a brave new world that isn't totally dependent upon their power plants and distribution system. When threatened, many creatures, such as cats, will howl, yowl, scratch, claw, and bite. Is that what we're already experiencing?

Visduh: It's true that places with less sunshine will be more difficult for solar. I'm thinking of Seattle, Cleveland, much of Oregon, etc. But Germany, which is also gray, is making excellent headway with solar. It can be done. Best, Don Bauder

New designs of solar panels and high-tech technology in the production of energy storage systems means that it won’t be that long before householders can install it at a fraction of the cost it currently is. The electric system as it stands now is like a dinosaur and will soon be extinct! 80% less greenhouse gas emissions is a fantastic figure if it can be achieved so I’ll be interested to see what the comments are on this topic.

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