PG&E can't survive solar energy

SF Newspaper Company file photo

Years ago, in the middle of the boom in nuclear power plants, we used to say, only half in jest, the private utilities would never accept solar energy because you can't put a meter on the sun. Turns out that's pretty close to true.

A new report by The Energy Collective argues that Pacific Gas and Electric Company may be the first utility in the country to go under -- because of competition with cheap solar in sunny California. Once solar becomes competitive with PG&E, more and more customers will install panels, forcing PG&E to raise rates on the remaining customers, who will then have even more reason to go solar. The groundwork is already there:

PG&E's marginal prices cannot compete with solar. Large residential customers pay 31¢-35¢/kWh [kilowatt-hour], the same prices that cause the solar revolutions in Hawaii and Australia. Even worse, according to PG&E, "By 2022, PG&E's top residential rate could reach 54 cents." Residential customers represent about 40 percent of PG&E's retail electric revenue. Commercial customers experience high rates, too. Unlike residential customers, who need a commercial third party to own the solar panels to take advantage of the accelerated depreciation, commercial customers can keep that advantage for themselves, making solar more financially attractive. Commercial customers represent about 46 percent of PG&E's retail electric revenue.

If it happens soon, it will happen here:

"There is nowhere else in the U.S. with the same confluence of events," says Short: "High and rising marginal prices, good sunshine, and inability to respond to changed competitive circumstances. If ever an electric utility was set up to fall to solar, it is PG&E."

This is a great argument for promoting CleanPowerSF (and a good explanation for why PG&E wants to kill it), and shows the need for an eventual municipal takeover of the grid, because even with widespread solar, there's going to be a need to power to move around between generators and users at different times of the day. And if PG&E is headed for collapse, the city ought to be able to get the infrastructure cheap.



The SFBG has been wishing death on PG&E since Bruce wasn't fat and it's never done you any good at all. In fact they even went bankrupt and bounced back.

Solar, my ass. Give it up.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 11:39 am

if it wasn't a local issue, but it otherwise has all the characteristics of a Big Troll Lie.

Here's the list so far:

lillipublican's Big List of Troll Lies

1 Presidents always move to the center

2 Progressive ideas are not popular

3 All politicians lie

4 "Purity progressives" can't compromise

5 Nader lost the election for Gore

6 Progressives have situational ethics

7 Progressives ignore pressing problems while promoting pet projects.

8 Progressives want to tell everyone else how to run their lives

9 Progressives call anybody a troll who doesnt' agree with them

10 Anybody who thinks the police must have proper civilian oversight is a "cop hater."

11 Corporations don't pay taxes

12 Poor people here are actually quite wealthy.

13 Rent control represents newcomers subsidizing those already here.

14 Social Security adds to the deficit

15 Non-criminals have nothing to fear from police investigation.

16 San Francisco "exceptionalism" is behind pro-democratic intitiatives

17 "Only whiners show up at public meetings"

18 Progressive leaders are crazy

19"Most Americans supported the war on Iraq."

20 Blacks Are Responsible for Prop 8

21 Poor people are lazy

22 Poor people commit most crimes

23 Wealth in the U.S. is broadly distributed

24 WWII -- and not the New Deal -- bailed out the U.S. economy

25 Liberal thinking is clouded by "confirmation bias."

26 The rich getting richer does not make the poor poorer

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

guy is wrong. You don't get away with merely asserting it.

Posted by anon on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

Imagine the kind of life where someone keeps a list of random comments on an obscure message board.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

There isn't even a 1% chance that Lilli has a job or a life, and we already know he has never had sex.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

that you were not held enough as a child.

Posted by Chromefields on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:24 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

Big Troll Lie #27:

The petro-based energy industry can be relied upon to adapt to peak oil and climate change.

Claiming that PG&E now has "60% percent renewable energy" is a form of the larger lie.

Do corporate "people" really lie to give the false impression that they have the long term health of the planet in mind? Yes, corporate "people" do.

http:[inserted to defeat the idiotic SFBG filter]//,%20climate,%20and%20the%20environment/7%20-%20Cherry%20Sneirson%20Article.pdf

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

nuclear power is sustainable, which for all practical purposes, it is. It's also very clean.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

Note to those who designed the SFBG spam Captcha -- it has been tested on Lilli and apparently it is not completely idiot proof; he can't figure it out. Not sure if it is worth trying to adapt it to him.

Posted by Troll on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:04 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

Unless you're off-grid, which is highly unlikely in a major urban area, PGE owns the transmission network and when the grid goes down so does your solar. It's not likely PGE is ever going to "go under" in the way Tim imagines, if for nothing other than that MAJOR reason - they own the means of distribution which is a powerful thing in any network-based delivery system.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 22, 2013 @ 11:48 am

approve a multi-billion dollar bond/tax increase to buy all that infrastruture, enabling the same people who run Muni to manage our gas and electricity.

Except of course that the voters have always rejected that, knowing that the city cannot run anything, let alone something important.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 11:59 am

If you owned your own panels? Isn't it the whole point that getting your own solar panels means relying less on the grid and PG&E?

Posted by Johnny Venom on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

and even then you are reliant on the grid at night, when it's cloudy, foggy etc.

The average SF flat dweller isn't able to go solar even if he buys the hype.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

but then you have to totally disconnect from the grid at all times. The issue, as explained to me by a local solar power installer, is that in case of an emergency with line technicians working on power lines they have to know the ENTIRE grid is down and not have parts of it feeding back, possibly electrifying lines.

You are still connected to the grid if you use solar unless you have a battery backup - and those are expensive.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

Exactly! Solar panels don't power your house they feed power to the utility. Having a solar panel doesn't mean you can be off the grid, unless you have ample battery power (which few have).

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

I am a tenant.
I own solar panels that power a beautiful solar battery (Goal Zero)
which runs my lights, cell phone, ipad, etc.
So any tenant can have solar power.

I am buying an electric car, which has a huge battery.
My solar panels will store energy in my car.
My car battery can power my apartment.

When I drive to work, my battery can then power my office.
When there is a quake, I still have lights, phone, etc.
I can park out in the middle of the desert and have power

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 9:40 am

sorry, but I just can't get all hot and bothered by purchasing my power from Shell as opposed to PG&E. Don't really see how that is much of a "win" especially when I have to pay more for the privilege

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:37 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

Cleanpower SF does NOTHING to build Solar Panels, to develop any sustainable energy. It guarantees money to Shell Oil company if they can't sell enough energy to residents. CRAP

Posted by Richmondman on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

If solar did not receive a tax or ratepayer subsidy of 40%, it wouldn't be competitive. Essentially it is Just another example of government supporting competition against an investor owned utility.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

So it's a moot point. The real cost of harnessing energy is tremendous. Of course it's subsidized.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

Solar power receives no subsidies from any of the 7,000+ cities around the world that are solar powered.

Example: in Germany, a home owner or farmer buys 50 panels. The next day they are feeding their surplus onto the grid & being paid by the Utility $0.54 kwh.
Farmers in Germany make $60,000. a year extra from solar.
Plus they get free energy, and if the grid goes down, they still have power.

This is a market based solar economy.
There is no taxes paid to the solar producers.

Every poll of Germans, asked if they mind paying more to the Utilities,
to fund solar power, says,

"I spend $20. a month on beer.
So no, I don't mind paying $20. more for solar.
Anything to prevent another Chernobyl."

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 9:50 am
Posted by anon on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 10:07 am

I suspect, therefore I am.
I suspect the MAJORITY of Americans have the capacity to recognize mealy mouthed mewlings and weasel words from a sad little internet troll.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 10:29 am

Most people I meet don't give a crap about this.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 10:38 am

That sounds like a lot.
Maybe even a majority.
That definitely makes him probably correct.

Posted by Mort on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:01 am

you have given no reason to believe that they are not representative.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 11:11 am

of weasel words.
What is the point of attempting to convince people of something with brain dead phrases like "most people i meet" and "i suspect a majority would agree"?
Do you not realize that most people are actually smarter than you?
They're just really nice and don't say so.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 12:36 pm
Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 10:28 am

This is a great argument for opting out of CleanPowerSF (and a good explanation for why PG&E wants to kill it), and shows the need for an eventual municipal takeover of the grid,

Get serious people.

We are not talking about money.

We are talking about saving the planet from Shell Oil.

We do not want Shell Oil to be the new Big Solar corporation
or to take over PG&E.

Leave PG&E alone.
Put solar panels on your farm.

Pass a Feed in Tariff that requires PG&E to pay
us $0.22 kwh for feeding solar onto the grid.

We can all make a little money harvesting solar,
and we can all help shut down Shell Oil,
shut down the nukes,
shut down Big Coal,
and so convert our whole
economy to solar.

Pass the sun screen.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

But even so, I will not be using CPSF on cost grounds alone.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 12:11 pm