A recent article exposed some of the false notions that may slow solar progress in Florida and elsewhere. Written by Tony Clifford, “Studied to Death — Solar Customers Don’t Harm Non-Solar Ratepayers,” sheds light on rooftop solar costs for utilities and other ratepayers one more time.
Anti-solar forces spend hundreds of thousands of dollars perpetuating deception in the popular press, the false assumption that solar energy affects everyone else’s bills adversely. In fact, the opposite is often true. Solar energy use reduces peak demand, and thus, it often brings down wholesale electricity costs.
In Florida, we are seeing a lot of these deceiving ads. Utilities are funding ads trying to turn that myth into a vote on November 8. If they win, and Amendment 1 passes, it will be a horrible vote in which big utilities tricked the population to vote against their own interests. Vote NO vote on Amendment 1 in Florida if you vote in the “Sunshine State.” It is the best vote for the well-being of rooftop solar.
Will these myth-makers be successful due to all the myth-making money spent? Clifford comments on the possibility: “Frankly, it’s a compelling sell. If I didn’t know better, I’d probably resent solar customers, too. After all, why should solar customers get the grid for ‘free’ while I’m paying for its upkeep?”
Clifford does know better. He points out that, in fact, the opposite can be true. Natural Resources Council of Maine reports that, by reducing peak demands, solar energy helps everyone’s costs go down. See: “Study Shows Solar Saves Money for All Ratepayers in Maine by Reducing Peak Demand.”
Clifford again comments:
The argument is spurious at best, disingenuous at worst and absolutely 100 percent false. But despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, public-utilities commissions and governmental entities insist on studying the subject to death.
In a nutshell, here’s the argument the utilities want to prove: Solar customers, by consuming their own energy, are avoiding paying for upkeep on the grid, which (in this argument) means those costs shift to non-solar ratepayers.
Now that they’ve got your dander up, the utilities go in for the kill: This freeloading scenario demands that they charge solar customers special charges (monthly fixed charges, solar tariffs, etc.) so equity for all ratepayers can be maintained. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to show their claims are true.
In fact, 16 states have commissioned cost-benefit analyses on whether having solar consumers on the grid negatively affects non-solar customers (the list misses the studies in South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana). Only one study has given even the hint that ratepayers are harmed (Louisiana), and that study was done by a firm so closely tied to the fossil-fuels industry as to be easily discounted.
We are living an age where social pressure all too often expels common sense and wellbeing. Consumers get deceptive parts of information masking the truth or shearing away the truth. It is nice to encounter Clifford’s strong voice and body of accurate information as he concludes, “Here’s a reality the utilities don’t want to face: No matter how many times they attempt to force different outcomes by demanding more studies, the studies consistently show having solar on the grid is a net benefit to everyone. In other words, their arguments are consistently shown to be false.”
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