The Tragedy of the Electric Commons: How New York’s Renewable Energy Policy Failed, and What We Can Do Now

By Kartik Amarnath, currently pursuing a career in medicine and formerly  the Energy Planner of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, Adam Flint, Director of Clean Energy Programs for the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition and Coordinates the Community Owned Shared Renewables Working Group of the Energy Democracy Alliance  and Patrick Robbins, the Coordinator of the Energy Democracy Alliance

In a recent speech on the state’s energy system, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo adopted the rhetoric of the Green New Deal, claiming in the press release that his new energy plan will be “a nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will put the state on a path to carbon neutrality across all sectors of New York’s economy.” As the expression goes, it would be pretty to think so. New York, after all, should be a hub for renewable energy. We have a major solar power workforce, enormous offshore wind resources, a Governor who is positioning himself as a climate leader, and a strong grassroots climate movement to hold our leaders accountable.

In reality, there’s a major gap between New York’s potential and its current dismal rate of renewable energy generation. Currently, less than4%of New York’s energy mix is provided by solar or wind power. The story behind this gap is a classic story of free market logic versus the public good. It’s an ongoing battle being fought on economic terrain, and those who are fighting it are in dire need of support from economists who can help change its terms (read the full story below, and email us HERE to join the fight).

To understand why renewable energy hasn’t flourished in New York, it’s important to understand how New York’s electricity system works currently. This system represents an uneasy truce between faith in the capitalist profit motive and a recognition of energy’s centrality to our society. Utility companies, many owned by private investors, control the distribution assets of the state’s energy infrastructure. As a deregulated electricity state, power is sold by independent power producers, and the utilities are prohibited from doing so. The prices that they can charge to the public are regulated by the Public Service Commission (“PSC”), a board appointed directly by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate to oversee New York’s utilities.

The utilities are legally entitled to a guaranteed rate of profit, which they make by investing in infrastructure and passing along expenses plus profit margin to ratepayers via negotiations with the Public Service Commission that occur through formal proceedings called rate cases. The profit motive still dictates the behavior of the utilities as private firms, but their financial model exists in tension with their mandate from the state to provide power in the public interest.

Distributed renewable resources such as rooftop and community shared solar are a stake in the heart of this model. If customers have the ability to provide their own power, either by storing power locally or by selling excess power back to the grid, and a significant percent of them take advantage of that opportunity, then it presents the utilities with a dilemma. From their perspective, they must either increase rates on other customers to maintain rates of return, thereby increasing attrition and setting off a vicious (or virtuous, depending on your attitude) cycle known by some as the “utility death spiral.” Or they allow a steady stream of distributed resources to cut into their profits without recouping fees, losing investment all along the way.

Which brings us to New York’s utility reform effort. In 2014, Governor Cuomo announced his intention to transform the utility system through his REV (Reforming the Energy Vision) program. All eyes in the national energy scene turned to New York, because if New York policymakers were able to find a way out of this problem—some third way that would both increase distributed renewable generation and preserve the functionality and stability of the utilities—it would represent a truly historic development in our energy system, and a model for the rest of the country to follow.

It didn’t turn out that way. As described above, renewable deployment is viewed by investor-owned utilities as a gateway to eventual grid defection. The strategy that utilities have used to push back on this process is a common one in similar battles in different states – the establishment of various highly complex ‘value of solar’ schemes, each with their own specific formula for determining how distributed solar owners can sell their energy back to the grid. Depending on the objectives and economic philosophy on which it is based, the value of solar approach can cut in two diametrically opposed ways. A climate justice-based approach can internalize a variety of currently externalized values, such as mitigation of health and climate impacts, and various social justice goals, resulting in a robust price for renewable electricity that exceeds net metering. Conversely, a neoliberal approach can narrowly define what prices internalize. It is the latter approach which was ordered into existence by New York’s public service commission.

In July 2015, when Governor Cuomo’s PSC gave the initial order allowing community distributed generation in New York for the first time, he promised that this policy would give solar access to all New Yorkers’ “regardless of income of zip code”. A range of stakeholders, including community organizations, environmental justice groups, renewable energy policy advocates and solar developers joined a series of engagement processes. The Department of Public service claimed that these stakeholder processes would solicit input that would then shape policy to facilitate solar access for low-to-moderate income New Yorkers. These proceedings ended in frustration for grassroots groups, culminating with a regulation which failed to realize the Governor’s promise.

As part of Governor Cuomo’s flagship Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, New York State adopted a scheme called the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) to compensate Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) such as community solar. This new valuation scheme is largely based on the benefits that distributed energy projects provide to utility companies for their management of the grid according to mostly inaccessible and proprietary metrics, with no consideration for important public benefits such as displaced environmental pollution and reduced energy burden.

VDER compensates DER projects by stacking different values associated with a given project’s anticipated influence on a variety of current and projected grid operations. Each stacked value is associated with a particular grid-related impact or activity, with one exception discussed further below. The following explanation of each value that makes up the VDER value stack is intended to illustrate just how complex and inaccessible the community solar market has become due to this new valuation scheme and its components (brace yourself). The Locational-Based Marginal Pricing (LBMP) Value estimates the value of electricity sales and purchases at a given location based on generation, load patterns, and transmission constraints. The Installed Capacity (ICAP) value aims to account for a given project’s role in offsetting costs of purchasing future capacity from energy producers based on anticipated load changes. The Demand-Response Value (DRV) accounts for a project’s ability to offset peak energy demand. The Locational System Relief Value (LSRV) values projects based on their ability to offset projected utility infrastructure investments in high-need areas with anticipated capacity constraints. The Environmental Value (E Value) is the notable exception to the rule, where projects are compensated for non-grid environmental impacts. However, this value only accounts for carbon and is calculated by utilizing methodologies from a mix of existing and interrelated renewable energy and carbon trading regulations (the Renewable Energy Standard, Clean Energy Standard, and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative). Finally, the temporary Market Transition Credit (MTC) adds an interim value to projects with the intention of providing a smoother transition from net metering to VDER, and this value is supposed to depreciate over time according to the amount of DER uptake in each utility service territory.

To make matters worse, each of these values and the methodologies used to calculate them fluctuate in different ways. In fact, the PSC ruled to change how the DRV, LSRV, and ICAP are calculated and replaced the MTC with a new “community credit” in select utility service territories barely two weeks ago. With all these moving and changing parts even energy sector experts and experienced project developers are unable to establish sound financial modeling for projects on the ground, thereby dissuading investors from participating in New York’s nascent renewable energy economy. The State’s energy agency, NYSERDA, has had to contract with a consultant to produce a VDER calculator that is so large and complex that it must be downloaded to operate and has a reputation of malfunctioning.

During the stakeholder engagement processes, a multisector coalition of activists known as the ‘Aligned Parties’ had formally demanded that if VDER was a foregone conclusion, at the very least DERs should also be compensated for non-utility benefits, particularly benefits that promote energy projects which economically and environmentally benefit the most vulnerable New Yorkers through low-income and environmental justice incentives. Furthermore, projects should be valued using straightforward and accessible methodologies with room for iterative review and alterations to be made as societal, environmental, and market conditions change. However, despite the Aligned Parties formally submitting over 100 pages of analysis and recommendations on how to reform VDER partnered with several in-person presentations, for State officials, their involvement and demands were hardly even mentioned in the State’s official record of the VDER proceedings.  The State’s current iteration of VDER has unsurprisingly remained needlessly complex and overly partial to utility interests. By failing to integrate the environmental and economic benefits of DERs, the State is actively de-incentivizing clean energy projects, making it too challenging for all but mostly out-of-state corporate developers with the deepest pockets,  and – most importantly – leaving behind New Yorkers who stand to benefit the most from an equitable renewable energy transition.

The inability of the state to internalize these values raises a question that grassroots groups have wrestled with since the beginning. In theory, it should be possible to quantify the benefits of healthier air, a safer climate, and economic benefits from renewable energy that address age-old racial and economic injustices in our society. But are these values that can – or should – have a price? To meet a basic standard of justice, there’s really only two options for the state – to accurately quantify and internalize the myriad impacts of our energy system in its larger context in our society, or to declare that certain goals – such as healthy communities and a safe climate – are beyond the purview of a capitalist cost-benefit analysis, and craft innovative policy mechanisms to reflect this. So far, grassroots groups have not had the resources to argue forcefully enough for either approach (which is where we are hoping you will come in!), and the state has not demonstrated a willingness to do so. These more ambitious (and ultimately more accurate) approaches have therefore been neglected, and as a result, the VDER policy has not only had the effect of minimizing benefits of solar power to working class and Environmental Justice communities, but it has also, as of this writing, dramatically slowed the development of community distributed renewable generation across the state.

This brings us to the current moment. As part of Cuomo’s proposed Climate Leadership Act, the Governor has proposed to bring New York’s energy sector completely onto carbon neutral energy by 2040. But simply making commitments – to be met twenty years from now – is easy. This latest initiative includes no word of the incentive structures or ramping targets that would need to be in place for the solar industry to actually get us there. And the Public Service Commission has, as of this writing, proposed a “solution” to the VDER problem that divides the state into separate tranches, with time-limited “credits” applied differently for projects in different tranches, creating further complications for would-be investors to unpack. Why won’t the PSC adopt a value scheme that actually works for investors, solar businesses, and low-income New Yorkers? Based on the extensive input from community groups, economists, policy advocates, scholars, and solar developers across the state over the last several years, they cannot arguethat they don’t know any better. Ultimately, the real problem is that the task of providing renewable energy to all New Yorkers is beyond what the private utilities or even the PSC are structurally designed to do. What we need is a radical rethinking of why and how energy is produced and distributed, centering electricity as a common right for all people, and a broad social movement that can apply enough pressure to make this vision a reality.

Fortunately, some pieces of this movement are beginning to emerge. As part of their work with the Con Edison rate case, New York City’s Democratic Socialists of America are embracing an “energy rights” campaign that contests the fundamental existence of private utilities to begin with. And in the last two months, two State Assembly members (Englebright, from Long Island, and Steck, from Schenectady) have proposed legislation that would fix the worst problems with VDER by guaranteeing a minimum value for distributed renewable energy projects and changing the metrics by which these projects are valued in the market. Groups such as the Energy Democracy Alliance and their allies have been pivotal to making this progress. Between the minutiae of implementation and the sweeping visions of an energy commons, however, lies the considerable task of economic modeling and strategizing with policymakers to make the truly transformative changes that this moment demands. We need economists with the skills and expertise to argue successfully in the policy arena for the changes we need, and the vision to understand the necessity of these fundamental changes to our energy system. In other words, we need the people reading this blog. If you want to join a crew of economists for the audacious task of monkeywrenching New York’s energy system into something that serves people over profit, join us at or contact our coordinator Patrick Robbins at


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  1. kimyo

    the greatest threat to americans is not terrorism or russia, it is a sustained grid outage. as far as i can tell, there is only one way to minimize the impact such an outage would have, which is to de-centralize the system as much as possible.

    instead of three grids, the u.s. requires several thousand. this approach also addresses the non-functional bureaucracy issues discussed above. (no room in the budget for reams of meaningless drivel produced by hordes of six-figure analysts)

    lastly, re: reducing fossil fuel consumption – if it can’t be done on a small scale it will never get done on a national scale.

    1. Grumpy Engineer

      Microgrids are wonderful when it comes to fault isolation, but there are some distinct downsides. First and foremost, excess power from one microgrid cannot readily be shared with a second microgrid that is running short. The means that the first microgrid will have to go into curtailment, and the second microgrid will have to fire up their fossil fuel-based backup generators to keep the lights from going out. Both microgrids suffer negative economic impacts, and the second one is now spewing more CO2. Both will have to deploy more generation assets and more storage since excess power from neighbors will no longer be available. This increases costs.

      These difficulties can be overcome with high-power links, but if microgrids are linked, they’re no longer microgrids. They’re now portions of a larger grid. And now they can participate in a larger-scale grid collapse.

      Additional disadvantages of microgrids include the need for each grid to have an operational organization that is capable of handling curtailment decisions (who do we cut off when voltages and/or frequencies get too high?), charging decisions (we’re expecting snow to cover our solar panels tomorrow; should we fire up the diesels to pre-charge the batteries?), and equipment deployment decisions (a new apartment building is going up; how much transformer and distribution line must be installed, and where will they go?).

      And finally, each microgrid must also have “black start” capability, i.e., the capability of restarting their grid from a total blackout event. This is more difficult than most people realize, especially since most renewable energy assets currently on the grid are designed not to inject any power unless there is voltage already present on the grid. [It’s a safety thing, to avoid electrocuting workers doing line repairs.]

      Most local governments lack the technical expertise to handle all of this.

      1. JohnnySacks

        Not that I’m not a believer in residential rooftop solar, more a pragmatist. Centralized providers have legal teams, project engineers, contract managers, trained maintenance departments, etc. What comes with my rooftop solar installation? A customer/buyer who knows almost nothing about the technical aspects, durability, maintainability, installation specs, or anything else. A pat on the back, see you later, the company gone in shorter time than a pair of shoes lasts, the equipment component versions obsolete even sooner, and I’m on my own for any service needed, typically by a company who’s incentive is selling their own product not fixing their competitor’s.

        1. Anon

          Umm, rooftop solar panels and balance of system (BOS) are now modular and generally maintenance free. Lower maintenance than your bicycle.

          With battery back-up, blackouts on the engineered, lawyered, “maintained” Grid are of little local consequence. Getting money out of your bank account may be a problem, though.

          See here:

      2. Yassine

        Completely isolated microgrids only concern the provision of power in remote locations like military bases in combat area. When microgrids are considered in the context of the power system of a developed country, it is in the sense of subsets of a large grid that have the ability to temporarily and automatically disconnect from the main grid and operate autonomously for limited period of times.

        Obviously, the load following capabilities of the microgrid in autonomous mode are limited by the mix of generation and storage assets available locally, but it can still provide essential electricity based services when the main grid is down while taking advantage of the main grid for power sharing and load balancing the rest of the time.

        In the context of renewable based microgrid in autonomous mode, black start capabilities will be provided by the storage assets and the renewable generators will be coupled once the frequency is stabilized.

        The “curtailment decisions” and “charging decisions” are routinely handled automatically in modern grids, why would it be different for a microgrid ? As for the “equipment deployment decisions”, you need to make exactly the same decisions in the case of a microgrid or a centralized grid.

        And finally, there is absolutely no need for a microgrid to be operated by a local government, it could just as well be a public good provided to communities by a state owned utility.

        1. kimyo

          i’d rather see 2,000 local utilities hire 50,000 engineers than have con ed et al hire another 50,000 managers.

          no one here is going to argue on behalf of united healthcare or wellpoint. the logic is exactly the same: the cash extracted off the top to pay the management cannot be used for productive purposes.

          in fact, what ends up happening is that uhc/wellpoint boost profits/salaries by denying care. by hiring non-medical professionals to make healthcare decisions for you instead of your physician.

          are we really better off with pg&e-style ‘management’? or how bout this: 7 On Your Side Investigates: ConEd changed plan to bury lines prior to March storms

          It prompted a 7 On Your Side Investigation into Con Ed’s Storm Protection Plan, which we learned proposed spending $200 million to underground 30 miles of overhead electrical wires as a way to reduce the overall frequency of outages.

          Con Ed was granted a rate hike, in part to help pay for the cost of burying the cable. But in the wake of those huge March outages, Con Edison told 7 On Your Side that they’ve only spent $30 million to underground just 4 miles of cable.

          The utility has essentially changed its storm hardening policy away from putting lines underground, to installing stronger, more storm resistant poles and wires.

          “Undergrounding an overhead system is really exorbitant for customers,” Con Ed Spokesman Michael Clendenin said. “You’re talking billions of dollars, up to $6 million per mile.”

          But Westchester County Executive George Latimer says Con Ed has done a bait and switch on its customers.

        2. Grumpy Engineer

          @Yassine: What you’re describing is not the thousands of normally-disconnected microgrids that “kimyo” suggested. Instead, you’re describing centrally-controlled grids (with normally-connected “microgrid” segments) where all generation and storage assets are owned and managed by a single organization. In a simpler situation like that, curtailment and charging decisions would indeed be more automated.

          But what if generation or storage assets are owned by other organizations in your microgrid? Like condo associations or businesses that put solar on their rooftops? Or a community organization that put a wind turbine on top of a local ridge? Or a bunch of homeowners with Tesla Powerwall units down in their basements? If they borrowed money to purchase their generation assets, they’ll be relying on revenue those assets provide to pay off the loan, and being curtailed will screw everything up. They’ll object. Loudly. Possibly with lawsuits. It’s already happened before:

          And what if some of those generation and storage assets aren’t even controllable by the “microgrid authority”? Most household solar inverters aren’t remotely controllable, and neither are the inverters typically used with Powerwall batteries. Will people replace their inverters with Internet-connected units that will accept curtailment commands from elsewhere? Will those new inverters be secure from hackers? I suspect some people will cheat so that their solar is curtailed last and their batteries stay always charged.

          And on the subject of storage being used for black start… That’s tougher than you portray. Doing it with pumped storage hydro is straightforward, but those stations are few and far between. In the microgrid world, it would have to be with batteries. Battery inverters won’t handle the inrush currents associated with grid re-energization well, nor are today’s battery systems remotely large enough. Heck, NYC’s “Green New Deal” calls for batteries capable of 500 MW. NYC’s peak electrical demand can exceed 13000 MW. Do you really think they can black start NYC this way?

          Nobody’s done it. I scoured the Internet looking for evidence of a battery-backed black start, and the only thing I found was this: They used a battery to start up a gas turbine (which runs on fracked natural gas). Phfft. If they’re going to use fossil fuels, they may as well use a diesel generator, just like they do at other black start-capable gas turbine stations.

  2. denergized

    It does not matter what type of energy is used when the “delivery charge” is now outrageous. My electric charges were $53.00 last month and the “delivery charge” was $230.00. The wonders of deregulation ! I live less that a mile from the substation, how much “delivery” could i have used? My gas bill was $1.12, and the “delivery charge” was $42.00. The people who call to ask to switch to renewable energy tell me that the electric charges with renewable energy will be 20 to 30 percent higher and there still is the “delivery charge”. Before the wonders of deregulation, my entire energy bill was less than $60.00 a month, now it averages over $230.00 or more. It’s a crime to allow these rates.
    Now “Con” Edison has sent a notice that they want to file for a 20% increase on delivery charges!
    Deregulation is a neoliberal scam used to extract great rents from working people just trying to get by.

    1. Grumpy Engineer

      $230 for delivery?!? Ouch. Out here in Appalachia, the typical delivery charge is $24 per month. Ten percent of what you’re paying.

      And given the low penetration of renewables on the Con Edison grid, it’d be hard to argue that recent investments in solar/wind have made things more expensive for them. At least in California they can make that excuse, as their grid runs most on solar during the day and almost entirely on gas turbines at night. They have had to make big investments in their grid to handle all of these different generation assets. Con Edison hasn’t.

  3. EricT

    The electric grid is a security asset. The grid should be nationalized to the state, who would employ the existing maintenance staff, similar to how state police are stationed around the state. Keep power generation private, enabling providers to be paid, while users would pay. Set up an algorithm for price exchange, to enable providers to receive more under high demand, and users to pay more under the same conditions. Prices could be based on carbon unit calculations. Use the same electric grid to install a fiber network to manage the system of smart meters, and offer internet for a fee through licensed providers who could provide network installation and repair, provide basic emergency communication free for everyone. The only ones that are holding back progress are the existing stake holders and their bought off political power.

  4. jfleni

    RE: The Tragedy of the Electric Commons: How New York’s Renewable Energy Policy Failed, and What We Can Do Now.

    Why would anyone think that CUOMO the epithet would ever
    betray his grease monkey good buddies for energy efficiency,? never happen, the whole thing is the tragedy of
    electing slimy pols who always #### the peasants. Look to
    your voting behavior,and don’t blame anonymous others.

  5. Norb

    Wonderful post. Maybe what the investor class needs is another FDR like wakeup call to the challenge of communism. The wakeup call being that communist and socialist societies in the modern world are better positioned to deliver results. Without forming a vision of transitioning out of the capitalist profit system, politicians can continue to say one thing for public consumption, while in the background build the policy framework that locks in rent seeking and exploitation. At the very least, the process is made convoluted and exclusionary.

    While one can fully support, and should support these efforts, what is always lost in translation, or soft peddled is the contradictory and unsolvable nature of private profit and the public good. That is the true forever war. The battle of the have and the have-nots. This is mostly a political problem, not a technical problem. By not being able to voice or properly define the political problem, most efforts can be stalled or diverted. This is nothing new. The American people must be convinced that society needs to transition out of our current economic model, not refine it.

    The US is at War with every socialist and communist country on the planet. The US has allied itself with every totalitarian government in order to forestall any form of socialism taking root. The current political environment is set on perpetuating this situation by disappearing anti-war candidates and not dealing truthfully with foreign nations.

    Marxist economists and neoliberal economists view the world differently. You can’t build a more just world, a more truly efficient world, if you cannot say the words out loud in public. Communism and Socialism are vile words in America. The common good is anathema.

    Don’t get me wrong, this post is very hopeful and has much to explore and dedicate oneself too, but I can’t get past the feeling, and intuition that there is an element of leading lambs to slaughter in the approach. Not intentional, but in trying to be hopeful and inspiring, it downplays the true nature of the evil this battle must confront in order to be successful.

    People wanting change must find a language that has not been compromised and subverted. Working people must relearn how to become uncompromising in their demands, however many battles they will loose. They need leaders and dedicated people to show them the way.

    Until the American public once again embraces the socialist and communist ideals that drive fear into the hearts and minds of greedy elites, the path will be filled with disappointment and frustration. Whatever model is chosen, anti-war sentiment must be the test for inclusion.

    Get economist’s to map out the true cost of war, not the benefits to profiteers. Show the public what could be. In the near future war will be used to undermine any successful socialist efforts that take root. If the general public is not prepared to resist that call, all will be for naught.

  6. upstater

    Unfortunately the article does not mention the Cuomo-mandated subsides of $7.6 Billion to Exelon Corporation to keep three 50 year old Fukushima-type junk pile reactors and one newer reactor open on Lake Ontario to keep these dangerous plants open through 2030.

    The four plants would certainly close if it was not for the subsidies mandated by Cuomo and his corporate-captured PSC.

    If the subsides were dedicated to roof top residential solar, perhaps half a million homes would receive FREE solar.

    Conservation is NOT part of the plan, only corporate welfare. For instance 55 million LEDs replacing a like number of incandescent bulbs would EQUAL the approximate 3,300 megawatts of production from these plants — and these are mainly in used when the sun doesn’t shine. There are 8.5 million residential dwellings in NY State and the US average dwelling has 60 light bulbs. A TVA executive once told me that if each of TVA’s 7.5 million customers replaced a single incandescent with and LED, it would cost TVA$75 million in lost revenue. And these numbers are for residential customers, which consumer far less than commercial and industrial users.

    So this is all about maintaining consumption at high rates and nothing about the environment.

    Lastly, the article does not mention New York’s hydroelectric generation, which probably is in excess of 5000 megawatts. This could be increased, particularly through pumped storage. There is also excellent and almost consistent wind from Lake Ontario that could be developed and contribute to development of new pumped storage.

    BTW, we personally have a 5 KW solar array that zeros-out or annual consumption. The connection fee for National Grid is about $17/month, which is the ONLY electricity bill we pay. Any excess in each year (usually 400 kwh) is credited back at 2.2 cents per KWH based on base load (hydro and nuclear), not the marginal price.

    No PTB is concerned about climate — its all about the Benjamins.

    1. Ptb


      (Finger lakes resident here)

      This is all classic NYS style complexification for the sake of milking what were originally well-intentioned subsidies.

      The nukes, at least, are carbon free, but would be the first ones killed in an unsubsidized market. I do agree tho that the same $$ can be spent better. With the tremendous combination of hydro and wind, we should be a showcase for renewable energy in the northeast.

      FWIW, the southeast maybe has it worse w/ nuke subsidy disasters and customer bail-in’s.

    2. Adam Flint

      We choose to focus specifically on the value of solar tarif as the main example of how problematic REV is, primarily because we were looking to spark a discussion regarding the political economy of the value of renewables.
      That said, you are on the money regarding the nuclear bailout. One of our most active members, the Alliance for a Green Economy, has done a great deal of work on this, and we’ve certainly opposed it. Here’s a taste:

      1. upstater

        IIRC, the nuclear subsidy to Exelon is coming from the “systems benefits charge”, which also is used to fund residential PV rebates. Exelon is now swallowing the vast majority of that pie, thanks to Cuomo’s largess.

        With our many months of cold, cloudy winter and short days conservation such as LEDs, more efficient appliances, cable boxes/modems/chargers, etc would lower residential base load considerably and greatly simplify the problem from intermittent renewable sources.


    The Byzantine VDER system screams “BS jobs generator” to me. Having all these convoluted values to be determined means hiring scores of analysts to calculate those values (and the managers that go along with them), both at the PSC and at the utilities who will want to forecast all this information. Not to mention, an army of consultants ready to “assist” these community groups with navigating the formulas, at the right price, of course.

  8. Jim

    The problem with the grid pricing is that it is capitalistic, not socialistic. As there is less competition for the customer, the prices go up. Less competition means monopolies, socialistic? Get real. Socialistic, means the government would actually enforce standards and cares, they don’t. Capitalism means the businesses control the rule making and legal doctrines of the government, they do.

  9. meadows

    We also have a PV array which “zeros out” our electric bill. Waiting for large scale institutional change is Waiting for Godot but I’m glad there are intelligent and persevering individuals and groups doing more than tilting at the windmills.

    When I think of the energy transmission I think of the railroad and how the gov’t surrendered the rights of way (already of course already stolen from native american lands) to corporations in the late 1800’s thereby sealing the fate of passenger rail so that we have now a third world passenger rail system.

    How to undo the terrible decisions to “privatise” our commons?

  10. David

    Much of this approach and discussion illustrates that people in charge no longer believe in the free market, the citizens, or the business operators. If we design an artificial market that gives them no specific,enduring incentives and only endless changing Byzantine rules, we can expect ever further corruption in govt, ever further inefficiency in operation, and the destruction of ever more good citizens and businesses. Why do they not pursue time of use metering and real time pricing for electricity if they are so concerned with brown outs, black starts, excessive solar, insufficient solar…? The market would respond immediately with business and consumer systems to disconnect/reconnect as prices adjusted. The tech is elementary and immediately available to implement. I’d estimate they could shed 50% or more of the load on a given afternoon if rates spiked to $.50/kwh. And solar installs would be curtailed in regions where afternoon electric rates fell to $.05/kwh as would be appropriate. Energy storage and automatic delivery systems to support the grid would be naturally subsidized by price signals. But all of these actions don’t allow micromanagers at state level to deliver subsidy, exclusive license, access etc to their selected businesses/friends. Much of our leadership now believes in collectivism/socialism as the only path to progress. We unaffiliated citizens should be pushing for free market solutions to the extent possible.

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