Ditching The Grid

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By: Mike Vasilinda
October 17, 2013

As more homes and businesses install alternative energy devices, some power companies are seeking to impose an extra fee on solar customers. Utilities want customers to pay to have the option of connecting to the power grid.

Danfoss Turbocore produces commercial air conditioning compressors that can cut electric costs in half. St. Petersburg based Lumastream is changing how LED lights are installed in new construction, we end up with fixtures that don’t have any electronics in it, and dramatically saving energy. “It’s 80 to 90 percent on energy at the fixture but there is also savings in HVC,” says Eric Higgs, Lumastream.

As electric consumption drops, power companies are grappling with how to charge customers for the privilege of being hooked up to the grid. It was a hot topic at this week’s Energy Summit in Orlando. “There’s a question of whether the grid’s even going to be necessary in the future.” says Becky Harrison, CEO, Gridwise Alliance.

In Arizona which first floated the idea of taxing for the use of the grid, the issues become a political hot potato.

Duke Energy says every utility is looking at the issue and calls it a matter of fairness. “Whether customer one through five have a solar panel and they are using less electricity, it’s being subsidized. They’re being able to flip a switch and internalize being subsidized by the rest of our rate payers,” says Sterling Ivey, Duke Energy Florida.

But solar enthusiasts say it is the power companies trying to stop a loss of revenue. “So, we’re helping them, we are benefitting the utility grid by keeping better voltage, cleaner energy on line during the day when we are trying to run all these air conditioners,” says Al Simpler, Simpler Solar Systems.

Florida’s Public Service Commission, which would have to allow the charge, won’t likely to be asked to do anything until 2015, which is after the next election.

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