What customers contribute to Coast Electric

Published 7:00 am Friday, November 20, 2015

Coast Electric’s Mr. Barnes neglected to tell us what his customers who contribute their own power to the grid currently receive per kWh.
In 2009, I testified at a hearing at the Capitol about investigating “green” alternatives in building. The MS Power representative declared that anyone could contribute power to the grid, receiving 1 cent per kwh.
The Committee Chair then asked how many people were participating in this program.
The MS Power spokesperson said, “One, but there’s another guy who’s interested.”
Yes, the 30% Federal investment tax credit (ends 12/31/16) has catapulted states that have net metering (44 of them) into a huge use of solar. Not least because companies like Solar City, SunRun and Sungevity can build a solar system on a residence or business, lease the system to the owners, and take the tax credit. The lessee pays rent on the solar equipment, but it is never as much as they save in power bills. What expenses are these villains who have enough money to make lease payments foisting on those who aren’t able to lease solar panels?
Your electricity bill, price per kwh, is basically two things: 1) “cost of goods sold” (that is, cost of the coal or natural gas that the electric utility has to purchase to run its generators) 2) “marketing & transmission/distribution expenses” (computers to keep track of customers, read meters, and send bills; AND maintaining the grid). Advertising is added to #2, and charitable contributions have been known to be added as well.
So, back in the day, the reason the MS Power self-generator received only one cent is because that’s what the power cost —that was the price of the coal or natural gas.
But the utility receives the benefit of more than not having to pay for coal—solar, for instance, generates extra power when the utility needs it most, during hot weather when brownouts from air conditioning are likely; the utility doesn’t need to build new plants; and the utility has fewer “clean air” requirements.
With the huge advantages to the utility and to society (better air, fewer greenhouse gases), do you think “distributed generation” (power generated by consumers for themselves, and sent to the grid if there is excess) should be penalized by giving consumers almost no credit for it?

Julia O’Neal
Ocean Springs

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