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Cost of grid energy

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Posted by wmbjkREMOVE on June 28, 2010, 6:43 pm

In discussions about the difficulty of making alternative energy
"pay", people frequently neglect to consider the cost of connecting
new homes to the grid. Those hookups are often counted as being free,
despite the fact that they tend to be heavily subsidized by current
ratepayers. The true cost ranges from very little in built-up areas,
to quite a lot in rural areas. Here's a recent article which points
out some of the ramifications of removing subsidies and letting growth
pay for itself.


Posted by Jim Wilkins on June 28, 2010, 9:28 pm

On Jun 28, 2:43pm, wmbjkREM...@citlink.net wrote:

That's no different from extending roads, water and sewer at public
cost for private benefit. It's clouded by past practice and the needs
of public safety. Around here the fire departments want people to
evacuate when the private road to their cabin washes out and the
trucks can't get in.

Posted by Ecnerwal on June 29, 2010, 2:43 am

 wmbjkREMOVE@citlink.net wrote:

Well, at the moment, grid energy is costing me very roughly $81/kwh.
Six months ago it was $625/kwh. The more I use, the less it will cost,
until it flattens out near the rate charged + the service fee to be
connected. For what I needed, and the weather where I am, this was
considerably cheaper than a PV system that would do what I needed, and
may well still be ahead considering lack of batteries to replace, and
similar costs of alternative energy that are often discounted, such as
the spare inverter and a series of gasoline generators that my off-grid
(20+ years now) sibling has needed to buy. That provided a useful
reality check on things I didn't want to happen to me, when I was
contemplating off-grid myself. A PV system that would not do what I
needed would have been a considerable waste of a hunk of property, etc...

I spent 6 years puttering and saving money, convinced I needed to go
offgrid, but once I had a price put together on an offgrid, up-to-code
(and wasn't that a delightful moving target) system that would do what I
needed, and the money to do so, connecting to the grid was cheaper, even
with copper going insane.

"Subsidy" here is a credit of approximately the power company's cost for
100 feet of crappy aluminum wire suitable for 100 amp overhead service.
Everything else is bought by customer. Heck, it costs $45 just to see
what it will cost.

So, just remember to report your total input costs divided by the number
of KWH you use. If your $000 system has produced 600 KWH, you're at

Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

Posted by wmbjkREMOVE on June 29, 2010, 2:05 pm

On Mon, 28 Jun 2010 22:43:22 -0400, Ecnerwal

That kind of thing happens when there isn't a suitable off-grid
parcel. If you're willing to go alternative, then the best idea is to
find a parcel where the savings on the land is more than the cost of
the power setup. It doesn't work if the grid-connected land is say,
only $0k, because the off-grid alternative is unlikely to be
sufficiently cheaper to allow paying for a house-sized power setup.
But if you're comparing say, a $00k grid parcel to a $00k off-grid
parcel, then the potential is obvious. In my own case, our budget
could be stretched enough to fit the big picture of a large off-grid
parcel and everything required to make it work. The cost of the same
sized parcel near the grid would have been miles out of our league.

The only time there should be *any* subsidy is if there's a tiny
number of line extensions compared to existing ratepayer base. Even
then, the purpose of the subsidy will tend to be more of a
rationalization than good  policy. Power companies have enough
problems without being turned into de facto loan companies. The
relatively large subsidies that used to exist in our area were just
another factor in encouraging people to think in terms of someone else
saving them from their failure to think ahead. A typical example - I
was talking to someone who'd purchased truly crummy property on a
flood plain miles (and decades) from the grid. He wanted to know if
the nearby wash ever flooded, and when the power lines were coming.

No, that's narrow thinking that should be discouraged. Every off-grid
parcel costs *something* less than a comparable off-grid alternative.
So that needs to be figured in, as well as the costs of living
off-grid, which generally means rural. For example, the off-grid guy
might need his own snow plow, and grid guy will probably pay higher
taxes. Always think big-picture.


Posted by vaughn on June 29, 2010, 11:41 am

Yes, that is true, but then you become a ratepayer and fully share in the costs
of the system for decades to come.  That is just the way it works.  I love RE,
and dabble in it myself, but the grid is the biggest bargain you will ever get
in your life.


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