Tag Archives: electric

Solar could burn utility business model

Exhibit 2 Utilities say that like it’s a bad thing. The same utilities that left millions without power in the U.S. repeatedly last year, and that gouge ratepayers for 10% or more profits. Moore’s Law continues to drive solar costs down and installations up, with increasingly more each like compound interest. Utilties need to adapt or get out of the way.

Last November Moody’s reported that solar and wind were eroding credit for coal and gas power plants, and were already having ‘a profound negative impact’ on the competitiveness of thermal generation companies. That was in Europe. David Roberts wrote for Grist yesterday, Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities,

The thing to remember is that it is in a utility’s financial interest to generate (or buy) and deliver as much power as possible. The higher the demand, the higher the investments, the higher the utility shareholder profits. In short, all things being equal, utilities want to sell more power. (All things are occasionally not equal, but we’ll leave those complications aside for now.)

And they want to produce that power from big baseload power stations for their economy of scale while the monopoly power utilities get guaranteed profits, not to mention huge ratepayer and loan-guaranteed boondoggles like the new nukes at Plant Vogtle. (Electric Member Cooperatives are somewhat different.)

Now, into this cozy business model enters cheap distributed solar PV, which eats away at it like acid.

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Fukushima still broken 2 years after

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that heavily damaged four of the six nuclear reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi in Japan on 11 March 2011, also known as 3/11. The broken reactors at Fukushima continue to leak radioactive substances into groundwater, the sea, and the air, where it is carried across oceans to the U.S. and elsewhere. And it could still get much worse: if the No. 4 reactor pool, still suspended in the air, collapses and causes the disintegration of spent fuel rods from all the other reactors there, Tokyo, 200 miles away, will have to be evacuated. Fukushima’s GE reactors are the same GE Mark I design as Southern Company’s Plant Hatch 1 and 2 only 100 miles from here at Baxley, GA, and about 200 miles from Atlanta and Charleston. Hatch is leaking radioactive tritium into our groundwater again. Five more reactors within 500 miles of here are also GE Mark I.

Among the 311 or so facebook pages and websites about Fukushima or against nuclear power is this concise one, Unplug Nuclear Power, which offers a simple action anyone can take tomorrow:

On 3/11, we will mark Fukushima day by using as little utility supplied electricity as possible. This direct Action is designed to punish the utility companies for continuing to push for nuclear power even after the Fukushima disaster has proven that it is just too dangerous. On that day, we will punish them in the only way that they understand, by denying them our money. There will be four levels of participation, go to the website, www.unplugnuclearpower.com for a more complete description. Also, be sure to join the Event. Finally, if you are in a group our organization that can endorse this Action, please let us know.

As Jeremy Rifkin so concisely spelled out, nuclear power is over Continue reading