How @patgarofalo, @jpetersburgmn, & @vjensensenate Blocked Decreased Asthma Rates

As I write this, it’s hot outside. It’s also sunny. I have solar panels on my house that are currently generating around 15X more energy than my house is consuming since my air conditioner isn’t running. I don’t always generate 15X. There are times when I generate nothing, like overnight. But, when demand is highest, my panels are cranking.

The excess electricity generated by the panels on my roof is contributed to the grid. Electricity flowing upstream from my house likely flows downstream to meet the nearest power needs, so it’s likely consumed by other residents of my block. It doesn’t have to route all the way back to a central location. It goes up through my meter and down through other power users’ meters.

This power is being consumed during peak demand. For people who choose time of day pricing, Xcel Energy charges them 18 cents per kilowatt hour for that energy. That’s 6X more than they charge in the middle of the night when demand is far lower. Supply and demand applies to energy production/consumption, so energy contributed to the grid during peak energy demand is worth a lot.

Here’s pollution industry ALEC chair, Rep. Pat Garofolo’s, latest take on why residential solar users are freeloaders:

“Under the current system, people who have distributed generation, solar panels on the roof or their own personal windmills, they’re able to use the grid without charge and this means higher rates for other consumers,” he said. “We fixed that so it will no longer be a problem moving forward.”

Think about this.

Energy generated within a neighborhood does not rely upon this to get power from one house’s roof to nearby homes:

High tension  Power lines heading east in the direction of the Twin Cities partially shroud the Monticello Nuclear Genedrating Plant, seen in background, 1/2 mile or so  east in rural Monticello Tuesday afternoon March 6, 2012.  (Pioneer Press: John Doman)
High tension Power lines heading east in the direction of the Twin Cities partially shroud the Monticello Nuclear Genedrating Plant, seen in background, 1/2 mile or so east in rural Monticello Tuesday afternoon March 6, 2012. (Pioneer Press: John Doman)

Or this:

ericroper_1398354092_Substation7

Or this:

transformer_on_pad

Or, more train cars of imported pollution from Montana:

8094023325_5cfe96c2c1_b

Nor does it lead to more deaths from even more workers suffocating from inhaling VOCs in North Dakota so we can burn natural gas to meet peak demand.

But, Pat Garofalo says people who put solar panels on their homes are freeloaders. And, he got enough people to agree with him to change the state’s laws so power companies could charge residential solar users ridiculous fees to cover the costs of the grid their solar systems actually alleviate pressure from.

A pollution industry spokesperson, Kristi Robinson, who represents one of Minnesota’s polluting companies is apparently threatened by the one in 300 homes who have panels on their homes in Owatonna.

Robinson said another concern is that some generate far more energy than they need as a way to make money.

“They’re not offsetting anything,” she said. “They’re putting multiple small generation up side by side with no load to offset it. In the eyes of the utility, that wasn’t the intent of net metering.” With the law change, “we’re able to dial that back a little bit, where they will also be paying their fair share of the distribution system.”

This argument is insane since there is no net difference between one person with a huge roof putting a ton of panels on it compared to multiple people putting the same number of panels on their roofs in aggregate.

So, let’s assume that you live in Owatonna and are considering putting solar panels on your house. It’s about to get far more expensive for you to do it there. But, you have options. It’s time to consider moving out of Rep. Petersburg and Sen. Jensen’s house and senate districts. Move into Xcel Energy’s territory so you can generate your neighborhood’s peak electricity more affordably.

5 thoughts on “How @patgarofalo, @jpetersburgmn, & @vjensensenate Blocked Decreased Asthma Rates”

  1. Nice explanation of how solar actually helps the grid by generating during peak demand. On the eve of the special session passing the budget I watched Pat Garafola (on The Uptake) make comments about how solar is not really green, and although they (the anti-solar legislators) made inroads against solar this year, “we are not finished, we will be back every year to fight the spread of solar”. All those outstate folks that gave Mr. Garofola’s party the majority in the House are the ones that really get nailed by the changes to net-metering, since they only affect electric co-operatives, which are all out state.

  2. Nice summary! Needs a slight edit tho: “Energy generated within a neighborhood [does not] rely upon this …”

  3. The other argument against is that you’re not paying for the infrastructure you picture at night, when you’re not generating.

    But – as you point out, the utility wins on arbitrage during the day, and you “pay your way” by letting them mark up your generation significantly.

  4. One thing you are overlooking is that the power companies don’t need your generation. The only reason they do what they do is because of laws that require a certain amount of their electricity come from renewable resources.

    Frankly, an ion of electricity needs to be used the instant it is generated. If it is not, then it is wasted.

    Managing the grid is a daunting task that is made more difficult by the requirements that producers have to balance need with availability. Reliability is not a strong suit of solar or wind.

  5. “One thing you are overlooking is that the power companies don’t need your generation. The only reason they do what they do is because of laws that require a certain amount of their electricity come from renewable resources.”

    If it wasn’t for those darn laws designed to make our air and water cleaner we’d all be better off?

    “Frankly, an ion of electricity needs to be used the instant it is generated. If it is not, then it is wasted.”

    Which is why distributed generation is a benefit. It’s used right where it’s produced and very little is lost during transmission since it is consumed within within feet rather than miles of where it was generated.

    “Managing the grid is a daunting task that is made more difficult by the requirements that producers have to balance need with availability.”

    Yep. That’s the businesses utilities are in.

    “Reliability is not a strong suit of solar or wind.”

    Solar and wind are quite reliable at creating clean energy. Solar is reliable at creating energy closer to point of use. Coal is reliable at creating black lung in miners and fish that aren’t safe to eat in a large percentage of MN lakes. Gas is reliable at creating earthquakes in areas that aren’t exactly known for creating earthquakes. Gas and coal are reliable for sending money from Minnesota to other states. We can decide what type of mix of power we’d like to rely on.

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