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Solar is Unfair to Poor and Middle-Class Folks


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Mikala

Here's an interesting article that states that rich folks with solar are unfairly burdening the poor and middle class folks that cannot afford solar.

 

I'm amazed such articles get into the newspaper, but Hilo is a small town (~65,000 people).

 

http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/middle-class-poor-increasingly-footing-cost-island-s-electrical-grid

 

One part of the article states "We don’t favor decoupling as the proper model.”

 

I'm 100% in favor of COUPLING!!!  :yahoo:

Edited by Mikala
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Paul

I have a suggestion. Move to the mainland. Try Georgia. It's one of the cheaper states to live in still, I imagine.

 

If they are poor, what the hell are they doing in Hawaii, anywhere? It is not a cheap state to live in.

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The poor, poor electricity monopoly is not making enough profit?

 

I'm so sad...

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Mikala

 

 

If they are poor, what the hell are they doing in Hawaii, anywhere?

 

Actually, land prices on the Big Island are quite reasonable. Especially if you don't mind living in a lava field that used to be glowing red hot a few decades ago! There's been a huge influx of folks to the Big Island when folks retired and sold their McMansions. Many of them live in tents (with temporary electric poles). Then there are the folks that have lived on the island for generations. There's no real industry for them to work at now that the sugarcane plantations went out of business (not that most of them actually want to find a job anyway).

 

I think this "poke" is against the rich folks that come to the islands, build nice homes and then fit them out with solar. It's popular on the Big Island to find things to blame on the rich folks.

 

On a more positive note, a couple buddies of mine design solar installations for homes and businesses on the Big Island and they can't keep up with the demand. They keep cajoling me to join their team and work 6 to 7 days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day.

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ed villas

Here's an interesting article that states that rich folks with solar are unfairly burdening the poor and middle class folks that cannot afford solar.

 

I'm amazed such articles get into the newspaper, but Hilo is a small town (~65,000 people).

 

http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/middle-class-poor-increasingly-footing-cost-island-s-electrical-grid

 

One part of the article states "We don’t favor decoupling as the proper model.”

 

I'm 100% in favor of COUPLING!!!  :yahoo:

interesing article, would that be workable here in the philippines at all?

 

 
By NANCY COOK LAUER

Stephens Media Hawaii

The middle class and poor are increasingly footing the bill for Hawaii Island’s electric grid when wealthier homeowners, businesses and government agencies opt out by installing photovoltaic systems, the county energy coordinator said Tuesday.

Will Rolston, addressing the county Energy Advisory Commission, said Hawaii County intervened in a state Public Utilities Commission case (Docket 2013-0141) trying to determine the best model for encouraging alternative energy sources while helping utilities such as Hawaiian Electric Co. protect their substantial investments in electricity infrastructure.

“The low-income population is really taking the hardest hit on this,” Rolston said. “It affects rates because the fixed costs have to be recouped.”

At issue is a process known as “decoupling,” which the PUC defined as a regulatory tool that separates a utility’s revenue from changes in energy sales. This encourages energy efficiency and renewable energy. The decoupling mechanism, instituted by the PUC in 2008, in theory, adjusts rates up or down to meet the utility’s revenue targets.

But with rates set at specific amounts, and fewer ratepayers to share the burden, the cost ultimately falls on those who can’t afford the upfront costs of solar or are renters or live in high rises where they have no place to put the panels.

“All the people who are going off the grid because they have the opportunity to do that affects the rates of everyone else,” noted Energy Advisory Commissioner Steve Burns. “The lower-income person has a disproportionate rate increase. … This sounds like a fairness issue.”

Peter Rosegg, a HECO spokesman, agreed cost burdens are being shifted because of the increased popularity of solar panels. He said it’s a nationwide phenomenon, but it’s seen most in Hawaii, which has the highest percentage of solar on its grid. The Hawaii Island grid is about 9 percent solar, compared with the national average of about 1 percent, he said.

Rosegg said the country is just starting to deal with the equity issue, although he thinks it’s a societal one, not one the utility has any control over.

“This is an issue more about social equity than it is about the utility’s bottom line,” he said.

That’s especially true because of decoupling, which changes how utilities gain revenue, he said.

Rolston said the county recently won a first-step victory. The remainder of the decoupling issue has yet to be resolved, however.

The PUC on Feb. 7 reduced the interest rate of a key account from 6 percent to the short-term interest rate of the companies’ last rate cases, a move that lowers the amount ratepayers would pay to HECO companies by about $2 million to $3 million. The account, known as the revenue balancing account, is the difference between the utility’s target revenue and recorded adjusted revenue, plus interest applied monthly.

HECO’s Big Island subsidiary, Hawaii Electric Light Co., is governed by that order.

In the PUC filing, HECO argued using the interest rate for short-term debt interest rates would add “another layer of complexity to the process.”

Rolston is no fan of decoupling. When asked about alternatives, he discussed a smart grid system, where automating the collection of electricity customers’ usage habits allows for much greater efficiency which can reduce costs. That’s the path the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative took, a lengthy process that included almost 3,000 of the roughly 25,000 electricity customers refusing to use the wireless smart meters out of health and privacy concerns.

Rolston and Burns agreed electric utilities need some form of revenue assurances, as the energy business undoubtedly has the highest upfront and infrastructure costs of any other commodity.

Still, Rolston said, “We don’t favor decoupling as the proper model.”

- See more at: http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/middle-class-poor-increasingly-footing-cost-island-s-electrical-grid#sthash.PEHP9MEp.dpuf
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Paul

 

 

On a more positive note, a couple buddies of mine design solar installations for homes and businesses on the Big Island and they can't keep up with the demand. They keep cajoling me to join their team and work 6 to 7 days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day.

 

Sounds exciting. :rolleyes: Just what I would want to go, go back to work. 

 

Well, those folks, even the ones who are living in tents, don't have an idea as to what poor really is, probably. They should see how poor really live - by looking at Third World countries. A simple array, a few hundred bucks, and I have made a small family happy as clams. Not sure what the costs would be in comparison to the states. But, from what others are telling me, at least on the mainland, costs for solar have dropped significantly.

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Mikala

 

 

The poor, poor electricity monopoly is not making enough profit?

 

I worked in upper management of the local utility (monopoly) for 5 long years. I have so many stories (probably dull and boring stories) about how the utility would make a profit based on shady business practices. Hawaii business methods and politics are not so far removed from the Philippines.

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Mikala
Not sure what the costs would be in comparison to the states

 

I have another friend that imports solar panels from China and sells them locally on the Big Island of Hawaii. He buys a container load, sells them off, over and over. He does that with Chinese tractors too. Yes, he's Chinese, but been in the USA for 30+ years. That is getting some of the local prices down (on tractors and solar panels).

 

My buddies that are doing the engineering design work for the solar installations are charging 1/3 the price of the old-school engineers, so that's bringing prices down too. Their hourly charge is cheaper than a licensed plumber or electrician, but they're still bringing home over $200k per year easily.

Edited by Mikala
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I worked in upper management of the local utility (monopoly) for 5 long years. I have so many stories (probably dull and boring stories) about how the utility would make a profit based on shady business practices. Hawaii business methods and politics are not so far removed from the Philippines.

The rich monopolies hate competition.

 

Next watch for them to pour some of those millions in profits they are making into buying politicians so that you have to pay a fee if your not attached to the monopolies grid.

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Jason S

  I lived in Hawaii and was surprised by what I encountered. Hawaii is beautiful and the weather is great but I didn't know, just like most people probably don't know, that the Hawaiian Islands are inundated with drugs. A lot of of the Local Hawaiian people have been there for generations and are on welfare and have drug and alcohol problems. The locals do not like "Main Lander's" for the most part but tolerate them because of the money they put into the local economy. Tourists mainly see Honolulu, the beaches and the Pearl Harbor Memorial but don't really get to experience the real Hawaii. The housing prices have come down only because of the housing bubble burst and housing prices fell in the entire country. Hawaii is very expensive, a pack of cigarette's cost about $9.00, a gallon of milk is $6.50 (prolly higher now), etc. If your from New York or California you could adjust a lot easier than someone that is from the Southern or Mid Western Part of the U.S..

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Paul

 

 

If your from New York or California you could adjust a lot easier than someone that is from the Southern or Mid Western Part of the U.S..

 

I remember being on a PAL flight and having to stop over there. It's been many years ago now - MANY. But, even way back then, a soft drink was something like $1.50 or $2.00? I remember how shocked I was at the price, more than the actual price, now. 

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contraman

 

I'm 100% in favor of COUPLING!!!  :yahoo:

+1

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Jason S

I remember being on a PAL flight and having to stop over there. It's been many years ago now - MANY. But, even way back then, a soft drink was something like $1.50 or $2.00? I remember how shocked I was at the price, more than the actual price, now. 

  I was at Fort Bragg, NC. before I went to Hawaii and I knew people that has been to Hawaii before and they prepared me for the high cost of living. The military supplements a service members income but the high cost of living still has as effect. I was staying in a hotel when I first got there and decided to go grocery shopping. I was in the commissary shopping and decided to buy cereal until I got around to the dairy isle and saw the milk for $6.50 a gallon and it was more expensive off base on the economy. I threw that box of Capt. Crunch back on the shelf real fast, lol. I had a 3 bdr house and my rent was $2450.00 a month. I am getting married in June and would much rather incorporate my GF into the U.S. in Hawaii because there are a lot of Asian's there and I think she would be more comfortable but I can't afford to live there. Hawaii is paradise but one will pay to enjoy it and live there. The best way to go to Hawaii is to go visit someone that lives there because you can get away from all the expensive tourist traps and maybe even have a free place to stay.

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