March 8, 2015

AT THE eND OF hISTORY, EVERYONE HAS FAITH IN MARKET FORCES:

New York Just Showed Every Other State How to Do Solar Right : "This is as exciting as the Public Service Commission gets." (Tim McDonnell, Mar. 6, 2015, Mother Jones)

[H]ere's the thing: Even the most ardent climate hawks agree that we can't afford for utilities to go out of business altogether. Someone needs to maintain and manage the grid. Hardly any solar homes are actually "off the grid," since they still depend on power lines to soak up their excess electricity during sunny afternoons and deliver power at night. In fact, net metering is a key factor in making solar economically viable to homeowners.

The question of how to aggressively slash carbon emissions without completely undermining the power sector (and simultaneously raising the risk of blackouts and skyrocketing electric bills) is one of the big existential questions that climate-savvy lawmakers are now trying to figure out. And last week in New York, they took a huge step forward.

Under a new order from the state's Public Service Commission, utility companies will soon be barred from owning "distributed" power systems--that means rooftop solar, small wind turbines, and basically anything else that isn't a big power plant. (There are some rare exceptions built into the order, notably for giant low-income apartment buildings in New York City that small solar companies aren't well-equipped to serve.)

"By restricting utilities from owning local power generation and other energy resources, customers will benefit from a more competitive market, with utilities working and partnering with other companies and service providers," the commission said in a statement.

Posted by at March 8, 2015 11:02 AM
  

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