Bill Bathgate AMI Meter Analysis

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Bill Bathgate, an Electrical and Mechanical Engineer, has looked at the Landis & Gyr Focus meters that Seattle City Light is rolling out for the AMI deployment.  In this presentation he goes into detail about the accuracy fallacy, privacy and security issues, and Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) non-compliance to FCC regulations.

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Deflating the Propaganda Argument on How Smart Meter Opt-Outs Shift Extra Costs to Ratepayers

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions 

In order to penalize consumers who do not wish to take on the additional safety and security risks associated with smart meters, utilities typically charge those customers punitive fees.  They justify or rationalize these fees by proclaiming that other customers should not subsidize the few consumers refusing smart meters.

In actuality, those customers refusing smart meter risks are simply requesting a “same level of service” with a traditional analog meter.  Logically, in those circumstances, why should there be any change in how the customer is billed for electric service?

Additionally, however, even while a customer is paying a punitive fee for a smart meter refusal, they nearly always are also paying for the infrastructure costs associated with having a smart meter, even though they don’t have a smart meter.  Does that seem “fair”, i.e., being charged twice?  This issue was discussed at the March 14, 2017, Michigan House Energy Policy meeting chaired by Representative Gary Glenn.  Highlights from that meeting are provided below.

Read the rest of the article at  smartgridawareness.org

 

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Smart Electric Meters, High Costs?

by David Griffith

In late September, City Council staff admitted Seattle’s electric utility had failed to meet revenue projections for the past four years. Despite a significant population increase, residential energy use dropped. City Light believes a large portion of the shortfall is due to conservation and a switch to more efficient energy devices. Reporter David Griffith spoke with local activist Sonia Hoglander about the utility’s plan for high-cost advanced electric meters, and its need to reduce costs.

 

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“Smart” Meters Final Straw for Petersburg, VA

City on the brink: Petersburg can’t pay its bills and time is running out

By Gregory S. Schneider

She had felt sick the night before when she broke the news to department heads, and now it was 4:30 p.m. and Dironna Moore Belton still couldn’t eat her lunch. She opened her salad and found that her fiance had slipped in a note of encouragement.

She was going to need the note more than the food.

Belton, 38, the interim city manager, was about to step in front of the City Council and a packed hall of residents and tell them they had to make drastic — even shocking — cuts to city services. Reduce funding for schools whose students are already among the lowest-performing in the state. Cut fire and police in a city that has an unusually high rate of violent crime. Close departments, shrink city pay, shut down museums. Even withdraw support for the summer league baseball team.

The alternative was far worse.

Without these steps, Belton would tell them, Petersburg had about a month before it would confront the unthinkable: total collapse.

This city of 32,000 just south of Richmond is facing a financial crisis unusual for fiscally conservative Virginia — or any state. In at least the past four years, the city had spent all of its reserves and then kept spending money it didn’t have. It took out short-term loans based on anticipated tax revenue to keep paying bills.

When the loans ran out, it stopped paying. Some fire and rescue equipment has been repossessed. The city trash hauler is threatening to stop pickup. And lenders will not give Petersburg any more loans.

In his 46 years minding state ledgers in various roles, Virginia Finance Secretary Ric Brown has never seen anything like it. “As a rule, most Virginia localities are in pretty good shape,” Brown said.

What’s more, there is no mechanism in state law to help Petersburg — no provision for bankruptcy, no set way for the General Assembly to step in.

Belton’s task was to make the council confront this and act. Every member would hate to hear the message, and the prescription would draw gasps and cries of disbelief from residents at the meeting later that night. And to make it a little tougher for Belton, this toxic presentation was, in effect, her job application.

As interim city manager since March 4, Belton was living out a dream she had had since coming up through the Petersburg schools. Hers was an unlikely ambition — a young black girl hoping to lead a city that, at the time, was largely run by whites. Now she had the chance. But she had to apply for the permanent job at the same time she was recommending measures no city wants to do.

So, no, she hadn’t eaten lunch. She didn’t have the stomach for it.

Trouble with water meters

Petersburg’s budget crisis began coming to light early this year, but the city has a long relationship with suffering. Residents are quick to cite three momentous calamities, even though one occurred more than 150 years ago.

The siege of Petersburg during the Civil War continues to define the place. The fame of that nine-month stalemate, when Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant camped outside of town and residents black and white starved within, has long been a lure for history-minded tourists. Old families still tell tales of scraping by.

More recently, in 1985, the tobacco giant Brown & Williamson moved out of state, taking thousands of jobs and pulling the props out of the local economy. And in 1993, a deadly tornado blasted through the downtown historic district and set back revitalization efforts by decades.

Add in the recent recession and nationwide real estate crisis, and today Petersburg’s economy is a shambles. Nearly three in 10 residents live in poverty, more than twice the statewide rate. As the population has declined from its peak in 1980, it has also gotten older — more than 15 percent of residents are 65 or older, vs. 13 percent statewide.

And its streets of dilapidated and abandoned homes can make Petersburg the butt of jokes, such as earlier this month when actor Rainn Wilson, in town to shoot a movie, posted an Instagram photo of a boarded-up building behind a sign proclaiming “Upscale Apartment Living” and captioned it “. . . courtesy of Petersburg, Virginia.”

So it’s not surprising that the city would have budget problems. But the magnitude went either unnoticed or unaddressed. The previous city manager oversaw construction of a $12.7 million public library and, early this year, had the council considering plans to replace the 1856 city hall building with an $18 million complex. It all unraveled, however, after a problem with water meters.

A campaign to install new “smart” meters throughout Petersburg was a disaster. Some of the new devices were calibrated wrong and some were installed incorrectly. Water billings went haywire. Some residents weren’t billed for months at a time while others got exorbitant bills. And revenue stopped flowing to the city, causing a money crunch.

Mayor W. Howard Myers said the council fired in March its city manager, William E. Johnson III, in large part because of the meter fiasco. For an interim manager, city leaders turned to Belton, who had come to oversee Petersburg’s transit system in 2013 after working in state government.

“We felt she was doing a wonderful job with our bus transit system, and we felt that — being vested in the city of Petersburg — she would be the best individual to help us move forward,” Myers said.

See the rest of the story here.

 

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Smart Meters Should Do No Harm

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Smart Meters Should Do No Harm RevI discovered a new article [1] written by Nick Hunn of WiFore Consulting Ltd. regarding the status of the smart meter program in the UK, dated August 1, 2016.  In May 2016, Mr. Hunn provided testimony before the UK House of Commons’ Science and Technology’s “evidence check” as was highlighted at this website in a separate article [2].  In particular, Mr. Hunn has been critical of the smart meter’s remote disconnect capability from a cyber security perspective, stating in his testimony that:

“If somebody could hack into that or just by mistake turn off very large numbers of meters, that sudden shock of taking them off the grid, and even worse be able to turn back on at the same time, would cause significant damage.  And to me that’s an unnecessary risk.”

Hunn has a unique and colorful writing style when making his points.  His latest article reiterates concern about inherent security flaws for smart meters and that there could soon be an unraveling of the UK smart meter program due to cost overruns and fewer projected benefits.

Read rest of the article here.

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Solar Incentives for Washington

Current Incentives

The following is a summary of the main tax credits and incentives that are currently in place to make solar more affordable to those interested in installing a solar system in Washington. Click for a list of Washington utilities to find out more about your utility’s solar programs including net metering, if your utility participates in the state production incentive program, interconnection, and more.

Federal Income Tax Credit

The Solar Investment Tax Credit (“ITC”) is a federal tax credit for solar systems placed on residential (under Section 25D) and commercial (under Section 48) properties. In December 2015, Congress acted to extend the 30% tax credit through 2019 with a step down in subsequent years: to 26% in 2020, to 22% in 2021, and thereafter it is 0 (zero) for home-owners and 10% for businesses.
The Wind Production Tax Credit declines on a different schedule than the tax credit for solar. Learn more about wind from American Wind Energy Association at http://www.awea.org/.

Sales Tax Exemption in Washington State

Solar PV systems of 10kW or less are exempt from sales tax. This exemption is available to both residential and commercial customers. This exemption will expire June 30, 2018. Click for more information.

Washington State Production Incentive

Passed unanimously by the Washington State Legislature in 2005, the Production Incentive was created using the following language.
“The legislature finds that the use of renewable energy resources generated from local sources such as solar and wind power benefit our state by reducing the load on the state’s electric energy grid, by providing nonpolluting sources of electricity generation, and by the creation of jobs for local industries that develop and sell renewable energy products and technologies.”
EXCERPT from RCW 82.16.110
By rewarding property owners for installing Made-in-WA solar systems at a higher rate, the hope was to launch clean renewable energy manufacturing in our state.
The Production Incentive is an annual payment based upon the total kilowatt hours (kWh) produced by a solar photovoltaic (PV), biogas, or wind system up to a maximum payment of $5000 annually.
Incentive rates are based upon a base rate of up to $.15/ kWh for equipment made out of state. The combination of a WA Made inverter with out of state solar panels earns up to $.18/ kWh. The combination of WA made panels with out of state inverter earns up to $.36 and when both the inverter and panels are Made in WA, the maximum incentive rate is $.54/ kWh for homes and businesses. Community Solar projects earn at a rate that is double the rate for an individual property owner (home or business owner).
The funding comes out of Public Utility Taxes that each utility would otherwise pay to the State. Utilities are charged with reading the meters and tracking the annual payments to customer generators.
Not only is there a cap of $5000 on the amount of funds any individual (or couple) can earn, there is also a cap of how much each utility can redirect out of their taxes they would be paying to the state. Each utility’s annual pool of funds available to pay the Production Incentive is capped at .5% of their taxable sales for the year.
The Production Incentive program expires June 30, 2020 and no payments will be made for kWh generated after that date.
To find out how the caps affect the incentive rates your utility is paying, you must contact your utility. It is different for each one. Some utilities simply closed their solar programs and are not allowing more people to join them. Others are reducing the payment to each participant and continuing to keep the doors open for new participants.
NOTE: During the 2016 Legislative Session in Olympia, HB 2346 was introduced to address the problem of declining incentives and to keep adoption of solar moving forward. HB 2346 passed the House but did not pass the Senate. It would have raised the cap allowing utilities to spend up to 2% of taxable sales on solar incentives. It also would have created a new incentive program at lower rates to help continue the amazing growth of solar in our state.
The Washington Production Incentive is the primary reason why the growth of solar in WA has been so strong in recent years. Click to view a chart showing the number of solar systems added each year from 2005 to 2015, courtesy of WSU Energy Office.
List of equipment approved for “Made in Washington” Renewable Energy Systems Cost Recovery Incentive payments. Click to view list.

Local Incentives

Snohomish County PUD, Chelan PUD and possibly others offer local incentives for home-owners and businesses who go solar. Inquire with your utility to find out if they offer any unique solar incentives. Here is a link to a comprehensive list of PUDs and utilities in Washington state.

Net Metering

Net metering allows system owners to receive credit for excess electricity produced by their system.  Net-metered systems that produce more electricity than needed are credited for the excess production at retail electric rates on the next month’s utility bill.  Credits carry forward month to month for a year period ending annually on April 30. Remaining credits are zeroed out on May 1 with no payment to the customer. Click for more information.

For businesses – MACRS Depreciation of Solar Energy property

The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) is a method of depreciation for some tangible property for tax purposes. Qualifying solar energy equipment is eligible for a cost recovery period of five years. The market certainty provided by MACRS has been found to be a significant driver of private investment for the solar industry and other energy industries. For equipment on which an Investment Tax Credit (ITC) or a 1603 Treasury Program grant is claimed, the owner must reduce the project’s depreciable basis by one-half the value of the 30% ITC. This means the owner is able to deduct 85 percent of his or her tax basis. The amount of the project cost that is eligible for a Bonus Depreciation is based upon the year of installation.
Special thanks to NW SEED for its contribution to the information found on this page. 
Disclaimer: The information presented on the Solar Washington web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided in each summary  or linked information to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.
While the Solar Washington staff strives to provide the best information possible, Solar Washington make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. Solar Washington disclaims all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on Solar Washington Web pages. Page Here
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Seattle City Light Cuts Back Solar Power Incentive

1. Seattle City Light is ratcheting back the incentives for people who use solar panels—and people like former Seattle mayor Greg Nickels are not happy about it.

People who put solar panels on their homes will now be receiving up to 35 percent less incentive money than the amount they were originally promised by Seattle City Light.

Historically, Seattle City Light used money from a state program known as the Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Program that was created by the legislature to promote sustainable and green energy use. As part of that program, Seattle City Light told solar panel customers the would get $0.54 for every kilowatt-hour that their (Washington-made) solar panels generated energy. The rebates would be paid in five annual installments. Additionally, in an equation known as net metering, if the solar panels were generating more power than someone’s home was using in the first place, Seattle City Light would give solar users a credit on top of the rebates for all the power they put back into the city’s power grid.

But Seattle City Light topped out on the state program budget during the 2016 fiscal year, forcing them to scale back the program.

Nickels, who installed an 8.96-kilowatt solar panel system at his home last September, took to Facebook June 30 to voice his frustration over the change. The post garnered heated reactions from both sides, including from Mayor Ed Murray, who defended the city’s decision.

“Today is the end of the ‘Solar Year’ in Washington State,” Nickels wrote on his Facebook page. “This feels to me like a broken promise and will be a huge disincentive for others to install solar. And that’s a shame.”

Seattle City Light spokesman Scott Thomsen told Fizz Seattle City Light is not to blame for the drop in incentive money. Thomsen said the reason Seattle City Light reached the cap set by the legislature so quickly was because they more people were installing solar panels than anticipated, people were installing larger solar systems, and there were more days of sunshine in Seattle last year. Essentially, the program was a victim of its own success.

In a similar irony, Seattle City Light’s cap was also reduced due to lower electricity bills in general, which Thomsen attributed to lower heating bills for homeowners in recent milder winters and the increased number of energy efficient homes in the city in general.

Thomsen said Seattle City Light had two options when they reached their cap: end incentive programs for all future solar panel users, or cut the incentives for everybody. Mayor Murray chose the latter option for Seattle.

“Presumably, the incentives will keep going down until the legislature comes up with a fix for it,” Thomsen said.

Screen shot 2016 07 20 at 8.26.36 am jbvfmr

Nickels said one way the city could make customers feel better about the incentive cuts, was to have the incentive payments extended from five years to seven or eight years.

“If you make a promise that you’re going to pay $0.54 an hour, and someone makes an investment—in our case the investment was over $30,000 to install the system—I think you have an obligation to make them whole,” Nickels told Fizz. “[Seattle City Light] has taken advantage of the system to encourage people to make that investment.”

SCL’s Thomsen said they “made no promises about incentives.” He added: “We described the incentives that were available from the state. The limitations on those incentives are set by the legislature as would any changes. All utilities in the state must follow those rules. If anyone believes changes are needed, they should contact their legislators.”

Original Article on SeattleMet here

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Seattle City Council Select Committee on SCL Strategic Plan July 2016

SUMA-NW Representatives Sonia Hoglander and Nancy Morris give testimony to the Seattle City Council opposing “smart” meters.

SUMA-NW Members Rebecca Campbell and David Ward follow up with additional testimony.

Seattle City Light was asked what the impact would be to delay the $95 MILLION AMI Project for 3 years and/or 6 years. Stunning!

 

 

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Firefighter’s Against Time of Use Billing

by Brian Thiesen

Screen shot 2013-07-24 at 2.34.52 AM

Time of Use (TOU) Billing… a.k.a. Profit Maximization Billing, is when Utilities will charge more or less depending on what time you use power. Utilities know that the majority of your power will be used at certain times. Examples are 6 am – 10 am and 3 pm to 7 pm.  Of course they are about the money and so because you use the most power at this time, they will charge you more.

The con is to make you believe this is to ‘handle loads’ or of course the ever popular green washing ‘energy conservation’ (which of course has shown meters save no energy for consumers AND it costs more in the end to power the smart grid).

The irony on ‘load handling’ is we are all supposed to get smart appliances which works out well for the ‘green’ side since we should throw out perfectly good appliances for new ones that last half the time (but hey you can set your washer 500 different ways now although this does not change the quality of wash but the beeps and lights keep the babies entertained and the techies happy).

Read the full article here

 

 

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