This morning, I was helping a homeowner understand why nobody had connected with her yet to walk her through the basics of solar and give her a quote. You’d think solar installers out there would be happy to speak with anyone interested in solar, right? Actually, where you get your power from can be just as important as what incentives are available in your state to make going solar more sensible.
Take the case of the Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative in Southeastern Ohio. They get a lot of their electricity from nearby nuclear and coal plants. This is pretty typical. What is not typical however is how they bill their customers for the electricity they use.
On the left here, look at this. The co-op is creating an incentive for ordinary homeowners to USE MORE POWER?! That’s right, as you move above 6000kwh in the calendar year, you get a lower electric rate. This is a regressive tax! Rich people with giant electricity sucking homes are going to be paying less on average for their electricity than those that live more modest lifestyles and conserve power. How backwards is that?!
I don’t know what geniuses made up this rate schedule, but they sure as hell didn’t learn from the success of the tiered rate schedules in California. Californians conserve more electricity and pursue other options to get it (including solar) not just because they are hippy liberals. It’s because of those tiered rate schedules. When Californians use more electricity, they have to pay more for each kilowatt at higher and higher levels of use. One of the reasons solar makes so much sense there is because the electricity produced by the PV system gets homeowners out of higher rate tiers, making payback a hell of a lot faster.
Until some of these cooperatives get their heads out of the sand, we’ve got a long way to go for solar energy to reach parity with the electric grid in many parts of the country.
Last modified: July 23, 2009