Clean Power TASC alliance for solar choice

Published on May 19th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor


Clean Energy Companies Launch Alliance To Protect Solar Choice & Rooftop Solar, Combat Monopoly Utilities

May 19th, 2013 by  

This article was originally published on the website of The Alliance for Solar Choice.

TASC alliance for solar choice

The nation’s leading rooftop solar companies today announced the formation of The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC). TASC believes anyone should have the option to switch from utility power to distributed solar power. Founding members represent the majority of the US rooftop solar market and include SolarCity, Sungevity, Sunrun, and Verengo.

TASC is committed to protecting the choice for distributed solar. Most immediately, TASC will focus on ensuring the continuation of Net Energy Metering (NEM). Currently in place in 43 states, NEM provides solar consumers with fair credit for the energy they put back on the grid, which utilities then sell to other customers. In simple terms, NEM is like rollover minutes on your cell phone bill. Monopoly utilities are trying to eliminate NEM to halt the consumer-driven popularity of rooftop solar, which is helping create thousands of local jobs around the country.

“Americans are choosing solar in record numbers to save money on electric bills,” said TASC member and Sunrun co-Founder Edward Fenster. “While this benefits the American consumer and the economy, monopoly utilities want to stop this progress to protect their own interests.”

“Without consumer choice and empowerment, the utilities will continue to increase their rates and profits,” said TASC member and SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. “If Americans are denied the right to choose how they produce and consume electricity, monopoly utilities will continue to choose their profits over the interests of consumers.”

Studies in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, and Vermont have all found that solar provides a net benefit to ratepayers and to state economies. For example, a study published this year by Crossborder Energy shows solar customers with net metering will deliver a financial benefit of more than $92 million annually to all California ratepayers, not just those with solar. Over the next 30 years,California schools and public agencies are projected to save more than $2.5 billion on energy bills through net-metered solar systems.

By contrast, the utility trade association Edison Electric Institute (EEI) recently issued a report that describes the increasing popularity of consumer-driven rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and demand response as a “vicious cycle.” The report shows that utilities view rooftop solar as a threat to their monopoly business model, which guarantees utilities high profits from large infrastructure projects funded by ratepayers. Distributed solar reduces expensive and inefficient investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure and decreases the need for expensive conventional power.

Rapid cost reductions and business innovations like third-party ownership have made distributed solar even more attractive and affordable today. Two-thirds of home solar installations are now occurring in low and median income neighborhoods, according to a July 2012 California Solar Initiative report issued by the California Public Utilities Commission.

TASC Executive Director Anne Smart will manage the organization’s policy and public outreach efforts to combat growing threats to consumer energy choice in states across the nation. Prior to TASC, Smart was the Director of Energy for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a public policy business trade organization.  She will oversee TASC’s expansion through the addition of member companies.

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  • Wonderful creation helping people to use both solar energy as well as electric energy.. This will help people to reduce their electricity bills and also to conserve the non replenish able resources to be used in future.. good work..!!

  • Ross

    Yes we should and wind power too.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Would you please stop abusing the world’s supply of capital letters?

    • CaptD

      Yes, I will. Too bad they don’t have Bolding, then I could use that instead!

  • ecopolitidae

    Net-metering only requires utilities to pay a small fraction of the
    value of solar to local generators. It needs to be replaced by feed-in
    tariffs (FiTs) proven to be a far more equitable and effective local
    solar incentive. Why lock in a bad policy? Because solar lease
    companies don’t want solar PV to be affordable to the masses. It would put them out of business.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I see it a bit differently.

      To me net-metering is a win-win. Rooftop solar owners get the grid to store their non-sunny electricity supply for free. If they need more electricity than their system has produced during a spot of bad weather, they can purchase it for a price much better than operating a generator.

      Utilities get peak demand electricity from the rooftops and can pay it back with much cheaper off-peak electricity.

      That system will work great for both until there is so much rooftop on the grid that it saturates sunny-hour needs and turns the pricing structure upside down.

      Feed in tariffs work great when the rooftop system costs more than what would be returned via net metering. No one is going to install a system if it increases their monthly costs. FiTs are great for getting programs started (as we’ve seen in Germany).

      As we install more solar we will probably need some other form of compensating rooftop owners. Perhaps they should get a discount on their utility bill based on the number of kWh they send to the grid and have that price based on the wholesale price of electricity during those hours. Turn them into paid wholesale suppliers.

      Both sides need to make a fair return.

      • CaptD

        Bob, This is one of the few times I disagree with you!

        Many more Californians would install Solar if the Utility paid US for the energy we put INTO the grid, at the very same rate that the Utility charges when folks take the Energy OUT of the Grid!

        By not paying US the same amount, the Utility shareholders receive additional money they do not deserve and the folks that have paid to install their own solar end up with a much longer payback period!

        STOP the CA Utility RIPOFF of SOLAR ENERGY!

        • Bob_Wallace

          Please stop shouting.

          I think you misunderstood what I wrote. I was talking about finding a fair way to pay solar owners for the power they produce.

          Paying rooftop solar suppliers retail rates is not fair to the utility. They have costs which they should be allowed to recover. And they are due a reasonable profit.

          What you are talking about is using subsidies to increase the installation of solar systems. That’s one of the roles of subsidies, to increase use/adoption of something.

          If we want to accelerate the installation rate of solar (which I think we should do) then that money needs to come out of taxpayer funds, not out of the utility company’s budget.

          • CaptD

            I disagree with you that, “Paying rooftop solar suppliers retail rates is not fair to the utility. They have costs which they should be allowed to recover. And they are due a reasonable profit.”

            In California, the Utility has every imaginable item broken out for a separate fee, and there is no reason that they should pay themselves a higher price for a kilowatt that they pay a residential supplier for the same kilowatt at the same time of day! These “public utilities” should be enabling the public to secure safe, low cost energy not making their shareholders rich on the back of the ratepayers. SCE and SDG&E charge some of the highest rates for Energy in the USA and their shareholders have had record profits the last few years, what is fair about that?

          • Bob_Wallace

            They might “pay” themselves a higher price than a residential supplier but they also “charge” themselves for building and maintaining the grid as well as making sure there is plenty of power there when the residential solar power supplier wants to take some back.

          • CaptD

            Bob, In CA the grid and its maintenance is a separate fee that all ratepayers that are connected to the grid pay monthly. I’m not sure about other states.

            If the Utility paid everyone the same rate for the kilowatts they generate the Utilities would still earn a big profit off everything else they provide!

            I’d also suggest that like Cable companies, if Utilities were forced to compete against other Utilities then ratepayers would have much lower rates!

  • CaptD

    How to increase Solar usage nation wide in the shortest amount of time:

    What is holding America Back?

    The Utilities want to maximize the profits for the shareholders and so they donate to Candidates to get them to support traditional Energy Production, which does not include anything but a token amount of Solar… We are being “forced” to accept their Energy “mix”, instead of using our own and being fairly paid for the Energy we produce and push INTO the grid!!

    When The Energy Utilities pay each of us for the energy we put into the grid, at the same rate that the Utility charges for that same energy someone else uses at that exact time, then you will see Solar being installed Nation wide!

    Because Solar is generated during the daytime, it is the most valuable since the Utilities charge the most for daytime usage (where they have SMART metering)! Everyone pays an additional amount to support the infrastructure (The Grid) so that when the Energy Utilities begin to pay the same as what they charge (no pun intended), then it will make adding Solar panels a no brainer, since the payback period will be much shorter. Another benefit for all of us is that during a power outage, all the small solar panel producers can help to keep power flowing which will be a huge benefit during such times as hurricane, tornadoes and flooding!

  • CaptD

    A Most Important Article about why Solar is such a threat to all US Utilities and especially SCE. I think of it as a Fiscal/Energy War for market share:

    Disruptive Challenges:

    Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business

  • CaptD

    Solar (of all flavors) can save mankind from itself

    If the MAJOR countries of the World accepted the fact that unless we all work together we will continue to spiral toward chaos preceded by ever expanding conflict, because of Earth’s dwindling resources and ever increasing population.

    From the Web:

    If they were true World Leaders, they would join together to Champion Solar from Space and then lead the World toward a safe new future; these books explain how:

    The High Frontier by Gerard K. O’Neill,

    Colonies In Space by A. Heppenheim

    The Third Industrial Revolution by G. Harry Stine

    The Space Enterprise by Philip Robert Harris

    Mining the Sky by John S. Lewis

    • Ross

      The solar collected from space and retransmitted down has been debunked.

      • CaptD

        Just because they can’t figure out how to do it today does not mean they should not be doing R & D on it! Look at the nuclear industry want huge amount of money to study new unproven ideas like using Thorium…

        That is why we must seek Energy from Space, because only that will give us Energy Freedom instead of continued Energy Slavery!

        French Nuclear Disaster Scenario Was So Bad The Government Kept It Secret via @bi_contributors


        Catastrophic nuclear accidents, like Chernobyl in 1986 or Fukushima No. 1 in 2011, are, we’re incessantly told, very rare, and their probability of occurring infinitesimal.

        But when they do occur, they get costly. So costly that the French government, when it came up with cost estimates for an accident in France, kept them secret.

        But now the report was leaked to the French magazine, Le Journal de Dimanche. Turns out, the upper end of the cost spectrum of an accident at the nuclear power plant at Dampierre, in the Department of Loiret in north-central France, amounted to over three times the country’s GDP.

        • Ross

          Research into how to transmit power over long distances yes, but like nuclear fusion research, or thorium fission reactors it isn’t going to be what solves the immediate problem within the necessary time. They’re of academic interest.

          Be cognisant that fossil fuel shills advocate research into areas unlikely to lead to quick returns as a way of delaying more immediate solutions.

          CO2 levels are increasing rapidly, leading to an incoming/outgoing energy imbalance, significant latent heat capacity in the earth’s oceans and ice mean that the temperature increases observed at the surface so far have been modest but increases will start to accelerate.

          Because of the urgency we have to focus on more proven renewable technologies, which are still achieving significant improvements in LCOE and are more than adequate to solve the problem.

  • CaptD

    This is long over due, since traditional “Big” Energy has until now been the only game in town, think public Monopoly, but run to benefit Utility shareholders.

    Now Green Energy can provide BOTH Energy and JOBS, which makes going solar very attractive, especially tp those that seek new jobs and lower energy bills!

    Powering America: How Solar Energy Creates Green Jobs and Grows the Economy


    Members of the BlueGreen Alliance, which represents more than 15 million members and supporters nationwide, held a press conference today on Capitol Hill to discuss ways to jump start job creation. One important way, they said, was to dramatically expand the use of renewable energy, including solar.“Today, solar is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, providing good-paying jobs for more than 119,000 American workers,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “Over the past five years, the U.S. solar energy industry has experienced sustained growth thanks to rising demand, falling costs and new financing options. Since 2008, the amount of solar powering our homes, businesses and military bases has increased six-fold–from 1,100 megawatts to more than 7,700 megawatts today, which is enough to power more than 1.2 million American homes.”

  • Good Idea, The threat perception about Solar is misguided. There is a lot of misconceptions About Solar Energy and Myths About Solar Powerabout solar power that must be addressed fast. I hope efforts like yours and ours bear fruit in the battle to make energy sustainable for all.

    • Ross

      It is bringing out the utility shills.

  • Mark W

    TASC and the Solar Citizens campaign in Australia are running the same line more rights for FiT payments. But utility companies object to any such movement and are organising themselves to counter such move on their business in the US states and in Australia.

    ESSA Energy Supply Association of Australia reveals that the one million households with solar panels are avoiding network charges of $340 million a year – and rising.

    ESAA found that” feed-in-tariff” (FiT) is adding $680 million a year and growing met by households that have not been able to afford to install solar.

    AGL claims $340 million impost relating to avoided network charges is a “hidden cost”. Flaws in many states’ feed-in tariffs. Currently all utility companies are seeking to recoup this cost from those with grid solar systems in retaliation against such movements in Australia. Academics’ research has argued rooftop grid solar installations has delivered the greatest benefit to wealthier households – at the expense of the poorest in our society, many go without power or are disconnecting from the grid.

    Whether ESAA or Utility companies like AGL are implying a “Solidarity tax to solar power owner” or “New return path System access charges tax for solar power”, only time will tell, but the writing is on the wall. Utility Company has already got strategies in place to combat any movement that seeks to get more revenue from limited resources, as non-solar power households without solar will be paying even more in network charges in the years ahead.

    It appears that ESAA and utility companies for now are on the side of non-solar power households fighting back any moves for more network charges or FiT payments to be imposed on them, in retaliation against solar owners joining any movement in Australia.

    • Ross

      It is analogous to “over the top” Internet services like Netflix and youtube using the Internet access networks of ISPs to supply their services for free. The ISPs don’t like it but what they can do about it is limited. It drives greater efficiency in their operations. Utility power companies and access network operators are now going to go through a similar period of genuine competition.

      • Carl

        That may be a Mexican mentality free for all but that doesn’t wash well with utility companies that run and maintain transmission lines and supplying you with the necessary energy you need to maintain your solar system, your argument is hogwash. If your argument was credible who is going to maintain the transmission lines? And the power stations which you rely on which keeps your lights on a night?

        • Ross

          If it is hogwash then operators would not be fearful.

        • Bob_Wallace

          We don’t really need to bash nationalities, Carl.

          We’ll have to structure the system so that the companies who provide and maintain distribution systems make fair profit.

          The old utility models are breaking down. New ones will have to be developed. Ones that are fair for all.

          • CaptD

            Salute for urging folks to keep the conversation civil!


            In California, ratepayers pay a separate fee for the “grid” than they do for their energy, that way if you are connected to the grid, you are helping to maintain the grid. I don’t know if this is true in other States and/or Countries.

          • Bert

            On grid solar rooftop power households don’t pay there fair share of the cost of maintaining the networks infrastructure. The system network wasn’t originally designed to withstand solar power, its overloads the system and causes safety issues & even blackouts. It’s not a fair system, solar power users should pay there way at the same rate of everyone else.

    • Bob_Wallace

      No, Mark, I believe you are misreporting the facts.

      $340 million of ‘avoided costs’ by people who install rooftop solar is being ‘pushed’ onto all users. $30 per household. $2.50 per month.

      That’s not a lot of money but it would be felt by someone living on the absolute edge. Very few households would even notice that extra eight cents per day.

      What’s hurting is the extra $330 per household caused by grid expansion costs needed because of additional air conditioning use. That’s $27.50 per month and lots of us would notice that expense and object to it if is was giving us no value.

      What would probably be fair would be to institute a higher price tier for people who are using more to cool their houses. (Of course people who are generating their own solar power to run their AC wouldn’t be hurt, as it should be.)

      That said, let’s go to the solar issue, the $2.50 per month.

      What do you think would have happened had not a lot of people put solar panels on their roofs? Remember, solar panels take load off the grid.

      Those panels have meant that a lot of new capacity and transmission costs have been avoided. Without those new solar roofs the $330 per household would have likely been much higher.

      I’d be very surprised if that $2.50 for solar hasn’t saved much more than it has cost and kept the $27.50 AC charge from going much higher.

      You can check the “. This means households without air conditioners pay an implicit subsidy of $330 each year for upgrades to networks and generators to ensure there is enough electricity if all of those air conditioners are in use on a very hot day. Unsurprisingly, this has become one of the biggest contributors to rising energy” here…

      Oh, and be thankful for each and every one of those solar panels. Each one of them helps cut back on fossil fuel use. Fossil-fuel driven climate change is causing Australia to get a lot hotter and will bring a lot more AC units on time as temperatures climb.

      Let’s spend small money on renewables rather than large money on anti-bake-our-butts measures.

      • Mark W

        No, that your misinterpretation of the reported facts Bob.

        The subsidies for solar systems have to be paid for somehow, households who don’t have solar help pay the power bills of households who do. Do you think that is right Bob?

        Maintaining the thousands of kilometres of poles and wires that deliver electricity to our homes and businesses, which the ESAA state and make clear that houses with solar power are avoiding paying. Do you think that right Bob?

        ESAA goes on to say “But solar households are among the biggest users of the

        Networks, they highly dependent upon the grid for there energy needs from coal fired power stations.

        Now that we have established that solar power houses are fully dependent from other sources of energy. (This type of solar power has not transition off fossil fuel at any time of the day)

        Bob have I lost you, don’t worry I will explain more.

        “The current arrangements are unfair and need to be changed”. “At the moment, low income households who cannot afford solar, renters and people in apartments pay more to underwrite those customers who can install their own solar system to the utility provider under subsidies, have forced lots of new taxes which are paid by low income households to underwrite those with solar power houses.” It’s morally wrong.

        “We need to change the way we charge consumers for the cost of the networks to make sure everybody pays their fair share and not pass new taxes on to those without solar power.

        In other words Bob, those who can afford solar power should pay to maintain the poles and wires, and paid for their fair share carbon based energy which they use.

        A new Carbon energy usage tax need to be applied to those solar power homes on the network, this can be easily measured.

        If you put 30 kW into the grid and then draw 30 kW out of the system, and if not producing any power or not covering that energy required during day or night then a flag fall kicks in, buy the way of an electricity usage carbon tax. Based upon the carbon measurement of energy which was used on the fossil fuel generator penalty will apply for C02 emission generated. So they can pay their fair share of the carbon price on their quarterly bill without avoidance which they are currently doing.

        Given C02 emission are 1kw = 1.068kg of carbon dioxide and charge rate at $0.25 cent per KG that will amount to 30kw @ $0.25 kg C02 = $7.50 carbon pollutant emitted penalty, that works out at 32.04Kg of C02 carbon dioxide emission emitted from that solar home. This is a good incentive to dis-encourage the household to think before use energy hungry appliances like air-conditioning.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Mark, if your house is connected to the grid then the needed wires are run. If you put solar panels on your roof (a reasonable number of panels) you put exactly zero new demand on the system. In fact, you lower grid loads to the extent of the power you no longer draw when the Sun is shining.

          The ESAA clearly state that the increased infrastructure costs are mostly due to increased AC loads.

          I pointed out to you how the $2.50/month cost created by solar is almost certainly offset by the value solar gives to the grid. Were that solar not present then there would be a need for even more infrastructure upgrades to supply AC needs. Including buying more expensive peaking power.

          Think it through with a simple model, Mark. Imagine an isolated community of ten houses. None with AC and with an average daily electricity use of 20 kWh. A total of 200 kWh per day and a feed-in wire sized to service that 200 kWh draw at peak.

          Add solar panels to those some of houses and what happens? The flow of power in during sunny hours drops. No need to upgrade the line.

          Now take that same community with its 200 kWh draw. Now add AC to some of those houses. The hourly peak draw jumps up when the Sun starts hitting those houses and the wire is too small. It has to be replaced.

          But if some of those houses had solar installed the extra power needed would be generated in the community and would not have to be imported.

          Worry about the heavy users who are causing the real needs for infrastructure upgrades, Mark. Those are the people who are driving cost up.

          Applaud the people who are installing solar and keep prices from rising even higher.

          • Mark W

            Bob my house used to be connected to the grid, I was forced off the grid because high cost of electricity charges that was been applied.

            I spent $50,000 on batteries and solar set up, in of that which I have 12 kW system per hour which I put in place. At the rate electricity is increasing by, at the end of this year 2013, I will be around $13,000 for the new electricity Charges if connect to the utility provider.

            You don’t understand the situation, your implying a different argument. I don’t know whether you fully comprehend and understand what you’re talking about; we are not talking about AC loading but “Carbon Loading” at the gas/coal power stations.

            Carbon loading is the amount of energy in which a house with solar power has to pay to run there house.

            You point out your own figure that has no factual bases, but that you’re theoretical argument and nothing to do with Carbon Loading.

            That’s not an excuse in your example Bob, the argument here is if you use generated energy other than your own, you need to pay for it based upon its carbon price.

            Bob you can’t say an individual person or a community install solar panels and they generate 200 kW intermediate power of energy back to the utility provider, doesn’t excuse them from the fact when they’re not generating energy, that energy which they used from utility providers need to be pay for, base on of the carbon price for that energy, “carbon loading energy”.

            Bob you are saying that they should not pay, that like me going to the supermarket buying groceries and telling the supermarket, I produce crops, I offset that, and I should not have to pay for the groceries, that is a bizarre situation your implying.

            Or even better because I have an off grid system which produces 12 kW an hour the utility provider should give me all the energy needs to supply me because I’m not loading their infrastructure anymore. By your understanding utility provider should be shaking my hand saying thank you very much Mark for going off the grid, will give you free carbon base energy, because of your contribution for not loading the system anymore, will give you all the free energy that you like, because of your loyalty of not connecting solar power, will throw in a free air conditions unit to help you out.

            A very bizarre situation and most generous of the utility provider bob.

            If you are going to reduce C02 emission carbon Loading has to be applied.

            Carbon loading calculation

            Given the unit C02 emission are 1kw = 1.068kg of carbon dioxide and charge rate at $0.25 cent per KG that will amount to 30kw @ $0.25 kg C02 = $7.50 carbon pollutant emitted penalty, that works out at 32.04Kg of C02 carbon dioxide loading emission emitted from that solar home. This is a good incentive to dis-encourage the household to think before use energy hungry appliances like air-conditioning.

            Bob, those who can afford solar power should pay to maintain the poles and wires, and paid for their fair share carbon based loading energy which they use.

            Carbon loading on the agenda worldwide.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Again, Mark, people who are connected to the grid and install solar on their roofs 1) reduce the peak load on grids which reduces the amount of upgrading needed and 2) reduce the need for peaking power which is both expensive and carbon-heavy.

            It is highly likely that those who install solar on their rooftops are reducing the cost of electricity for everyone.

            My numbers come from the ESAA. I took them from this article and in that article you can find a link to the ESAA report.


  • Ross

    Championing the cause of residential and business rooftop solar owners to generate their own power and stick it to the grid monopoly. That’s a gift wrapped way for politicians of all stripes to get behind the transition to clean power generation.

    • Lisa

      It appears that there is a war declared between grids tied solar power users and utility companies worldwide. Movement starting in Australia, in Germany and the US are pushing full steam ahead like the Titanic but about to collide with an iceberg and take on water, was it not the Japanese that said when they bomb Pearl Harbour “we have awoken a sleeping giant” in the same way grid tied solar power users are bombarding by surprise attack against utility companies seeking further payments for there renewable energy greed, what has lead to this madness.
      How long do you think before the sleeping giant, would be sleep for?
      You have woken up that sleeping giant, and made a new coalition of utility power companies that will fight back and discredit in the energy that comes from renewable energy lying down the underlining fact that grid tied solar energy does not produced base load energy at any time, therefore does not require any subsidization nor do they deserve any payment, then they will go on to say that power quality is unacceptable and then will apply new service taxes to such grid tide solar users.

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