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Thread: Another example of how utilities are total dirtballs

  1. #1
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    Another example of how utilities are total dirtballs

    So, got my Duke Energy Florida bill today. And guess what - the started adding a minimum charge of $30 plus tax per month if your charges are less than $30.00/month.

    Why is this important? Well, in my case, I have a large solar array and produced a surplus of 8798 kWh of electricity that was sent to Duke last year. They will only pay me back $0.0325/kWh for that surplus, or approximately $286 for that. Of course, that surplus they sold to other customers at the typical electric rate here of $0.13/kWh (4 times as much as they pay me for it), or a profit of $858.

    So next year, I will actually owe them about $74 for the honor of them profiting an additional $858 off my energy production. It actually costs me to make them money.

    Just another example of utilities trying their best to prevent people from putting up solar panels.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  2. #2
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    I have a cabin on a small lake about 40 miles from home. The utility company charges me $50 per month just to have their service. Most months my bill is under $65 dollars, so to be able to keep a refrigerator running and have lights and a water pump so I can do dishes and flush the toilet I pay them $50. I don't have a TV there, or internet service as I might as well stay home if that's what I would use. Very seldom run the AC as I can sit inside at home too.

  3. #3
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    I can accept the logic that there be fixed monthly charges from the utility if there is no energy cost because they still have their infrastructure to the customer's premises that is just sitting idle. But in your case, that infrastructure is not sitting idle. It is being used to deliver energy to them that they are making a profit from. And I dare say they make more from reselling your energy to others than they do selling their own. The energy from your source goes directly to the nearest user, literally your next door neighbor. It doesn't need to be transmitted from some power plant on the other side of the state.

    I'd love to see a class action suit over this issue.

  4. #4
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    Whenever your service goes into output mode its reasonable for the power company to charge you a fee for the transmission and distribution costs and they are very expensive. There is also a matter of billing services and other business expenses that have to be satisfied. I think the deal your getting is pretty good when you consider all of the costs involved.

    I should tell you that I used to work for Virginia Power so you might consider my point of view a little different from the average consumer. Production and distribution of electricity is very expensive. I never complain about my power bill after working in the industry, its a bargain when you consider what it takes to deliver reliable energy.

  5. #5
    Simple solution is to disconnect from the grid. I trust that the BIG EVIL would not be able to bill you for anything at that point.

    I would also assume you may need to provide a DIY solution for the intermittency of your generating capability, but surely you can do that for less than $30/mo.

  6. #6
    The problem, as Keith points out, is that there's a grid to maintain. If people who have solar don't pay to maintain the grid - and those people need the grid - others have to pay the costs. That means the cost falls on people without solar, renters, etc., and those people are usually the less wealthy. As more people install solar, the cost to those without solar would increase because the cost to maintain the grid doesn't go away.

    In my opinion, it's only fair that all users who depend on the grid help pay for it.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  7. #7
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    I wouldn't expect to see a class action suit over being paid the same rate they would pay a supplier. My guess is we'll see a class action suit to force the end of net metering as more and more people get solar panels and those who can't get sick and tired of supporting them. Most electric companies would rather not have customers feeding power into the grid as it's unregulated. As the sun comes up they start making power but that power is dependent on the weather. So if it's nice and sunny there's lots of it and the other sources of power need to be throttled back. A sudden downpour on an otherwise sunny day impacts the grid. Of all the big businesses out there electrical companies are probably the most regulated.

  8. #8
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    For the record, one of the SMC members, I forget his name, is an engineer for Avista in Spokane, Wa who is my utility provider. 6 years ago, we contracted a bump out on our kitchen and had every window in our home replaced. Though they were only about 30 years old thermal panes, they had lost their seal I discovered while washing them on the outside one day. We also had additional insulation blown into our attic. As a result, our monthly utility bill showed that over the span of a year, we reduced our utility usage by 18% as reported on our monthly statement. I posted about this reduction here on SMC. This SMCer to whom I referred PM'd me to tell me his occupation and thanked me as he said the biggest expense the utility company incurs is the distribution system. Look at the posts here at SMC on the increasing cost of plain old copper wire for wiring shops, homes ,etc.
    Last edited by Ken Fitzgerald; 01-21-2022 at 12:23 AM.
    Ken

  9. #9
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    The minimum charge seems to be a common thing. We have the "Grain Belt Express" controversy raging around here. I have not researched it enough to know how to think about it. I built a rural spec house in the 90s. I still get small dividend checks from the rural electric CO-OP. I wonder if land owners would capitulate if they were offered shares. I wonder if we would like our utility providers better if they were not private?

  10. #10
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    They can only do things like that because your state PUC permits it. There are other states that also have permitted policies that are detrimental to folks who generate their own power, unfortunately.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Zeller View Post
    I wouldn't expect to see a class action suit over being paid the same rate they would pay a supplier. My guess is we'll see a class action suit to force the end of net metering as more and more people get solar panels and those who can't get sick and tired of supporting them. Most electric companies would rather not have customers feeding power into the grid as it's unregulated. As the sun comes up they start making power but that power is dependent on the weather. So if it's nice and sunny there's lots of it and the other sources of power need to be throttled back. A sudden downpour on an otherwise sunny day impacts the grid. Of all the big businesses out there electrical companies are probably the most regulated.
    The utilities in Florida tried 2 years ago to pass a statewide constitutional amendment to end net metering. Rumor was they spent $7 million on their ad campaigns. Much to my amazement, it didn't pass. But I have no doubt they'll try again.
    Last edited by Alan Lightstone; 01-20-2022 at 8:46 PM.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm McLeod View Post
    Simple solution is to disconnect from the grid. I trust that the BIG EVIL would not be able to bill you for anything at that point.

    I would also assume you may need to provide a DIY solution for the intermittency of your generating capability, but surely you can do that for less than $30/mo.
    The urban legend here was that it is illegal to go off grid in Florida. I just read today that not true for electricity. Possibly true, and more likely for water/sewer. And all dependent on local zoning, and I am in a very urban county, the most densely populated county in Florida, so no clue how that would go.

    With the size of my house, the climate, etc... I would need at least 3 Tesla Powerwalls to power the house at night. So, roughly $32-36K for batteries for night. And, with a few cloudy days in a row (unusual, but certainly not unheard of here), I might need 4 Powerwalls. So potentially close to $50K.

    Certainly not economically reasonable with net metering - even with the measly amount they pay me for surplus. There really is no scenario where they will ever pay for themselves with net metering. But if net metering disappears in Florida, I'll be buying battery backup the next day. I could easily charge the batteries with the daily solar output (again, except with a very cloudy/rainy day or two).
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  13. #13
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    We generate 1000 KWH+ more than we use every year. We still can't make it through the night without the Grid. I sure do not want the government to tell me what to do. However if the government does not stand up to old Montgomery Burns no one can (Or is old Monty the one pulling the strings?) What a dilemma.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Lightstone View Post
    So, got my Duke Energy Florida bill today. And guess what - the started adding a minimum charge of $30 plus tax per month if your charges are less than $30.00/month.

    Why is this important? Well, in my case, I have a large solar array and produced a surplus of 8798 kWh of electricity that was sent to Duke last year. They will only pay me back $0.0325/kWh for that surplus, or approximately $286 for that. Of course, that surplus they sold to other customers at the typical electric rate here of $0.13/kWh (4 times as much as they pay me for it), or a profit of $858.

    So next year, I will actually owe them about $74 for the honor of them profiting an additional $858 off my energy production. It actually costs me to make them money.

    Just another example of utilities trying their best to prevent people from putting up solar panels.
    Sounds like you have a product you want to sell, but have no customers, no distribution system, and none of the knowledge or experience that would be required to solve either of those problems.

    The propaganda must be pretty effective if you really think they should have to find customers for you, transport the product to them, handle billing, deal with complaints, maintenance, and do it all for free.

  15. #15
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    The North American Electrical Grid is the biggest machine on earth. The implications of this fact are equally enormous.

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