The cost of power, still hate PG&E 😈

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R Tyler Croy 2021-07-25 11:40:11 -07:00
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title: The cost of power in northern California
- opinion
- solar
From my perspective one of the most important steps to address climate change
is investment in cleaner power generation. Imagine my displeasure when I
started doing the math on some of my recent power bills. Where I live Pacific
Gas and Electric (PG&E) is the predominant utility company but fortunately I am
also able to purchase electricity from [Sonoma Clean
Power]( Nevertheless, I still receive a bill
from PG&E which is the owner/operator of most if not all of the transmission
and generation capacity in the region. In Northern California there is no love
lost for PG&E, which has been found responsible for negligence leading to
numerous wildfires, gas pipeline leaks, and explosions. Much of this negligence
has been due to postponing of forfeiting maintenance in order to recognize
higher profits. To add insult to injury, it seems like they skim a healthy
margin off of residential producers/consumers as well.
In 2019 I installed solar panels on my roof, and then waited for over six
months for "permission to operate" because the transformer the house connects
to was too old. That's another story, but a common one among a long list of
deferred upgrades by the company. Once we gained permission to operate, our
rate plan switched over to "time of use" with [Net Energy
In essence, I pay a variable energy price depending on pre-set off-peak and
peak energy rates, and my solar generation can offset the cost of non-solar
power used.
This "time of use" type plan has [rates
for winter and summer periods. The current summer rates for me result in **$0.35**
per kilowatt/hour (kWh) off-peak, and **$0.42** per kWh during the peak period from
4pm to 9pm.
It is quite obvious why peak power costs more, there's a *lot* more demand in
the summer afternoon for air-conditioners, etc. I would hazard a guess that the
peak doesn't start earlier because of a surplus of solar power as the sun is
directly overhead from 12-2pm.
The power generation prices that **I** am paid however for generation are
**$0.07** for off-peak and **$0.13** for peak generation per kWh. That means I
have to generate _three times more power_ during peak and _five times more
power_ during off-peak in order to break even.
I am a retail consumer of electricity but a wholesale producer.
In 2020 California's largest production of electricity was from natural gas
power plants [according to a California Energy Commission
photo-voltaic solar (panels) were the _second_ largest class of electricity but
only produced 1/3 as much energy. California imported almost as much from other
states as our own natural gas facilities produced, 81gWh compared to our 92gWh.
In my opinion solar and wind production need to grow and the best way to
encourage that behavior is with better rates for clean energy production and
poorer rates for carbon-producing ones. The California Public Utilities
Commission has the power to influence this behavior, but who knows whether
they're willing to step up.

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