Last week, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript published a fabulous opinion piece written by a consumer from Peterborough, New Hampshire. Titled Local Power Generation, One Home at a Time, it’s a wide-ranging piece on solar – myths and realities. In particular, the author makes a compelling case that, despite what investor-owned utilities would have you believe, solar does not lead to rate hikes for other ratepayers. Here’s an excerpt:
“I went to the second meeting of the Mothers Out Front NH group on Monday, and someone said that they were concerned about the fast growth of residential solar systems because of the cost shift from homeowners with solar panels to other utility ratepayers. This is a fairly widely circulating statement right now, and especially popular with investor-owned utilities like Eversource. But investor-owned utilities are not consumer advocates. They are investor owned, and work entirely for their shareholders. If an investor-owned utility appears to do something good for ratepayers, it is because it is good for its shareholders as well. This has always been true, it’s just that ratepayer and shareholder interests used to generally be aligned: keep the customers happy, make a modest return, and keep the system stable. Now investor-owned utilities chase profits and their own growth; they are indifferent to ratepayers wishes that don’t support their goals, and communities have to fight them tooth and nail on issues we care about.
“Residential solar projects are not bad for other ratepayers, but they do take demand away from company-owned projects. The investor-owned utility’s all-important ‘need’ for new supply projects goes away if its customers start to generate their own power. While each residential solar project is relatively small, the cumulative effect is making an impact in New Hampshire, and the potential is enormous. For example, solar projects go crazy sending power into the grid on sunny summer afternoons, coinciding perfectly with the summer peak demand and high fossil-fuel use for electricity generation across the region and country.
“This got me restarted thinking about solar panels for my own home, and I am learning that solar panels are a very attractive option for regular homeowners, especially right now. The best-in-class technology is great, and renewed incentives make it quite affordable. Solar panels are maintenance-free, pay for themselves in half of their lifetime or less for a monthly payment roughly the same as my current utility payment, and return free energy to my home after that for at least another 12 to 25 years. All you need is a utility bill, a sunny roof in reasonable condition (ten plus years left is best) and a solar contractor.”
Read the full article here.
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