SolarFest 2016

FSolar Fest 2016 Sonjaun was had by all. Overall, SUMA-NW was well received at SolarFest this year. We made a presentation at 10AM, just as the fair started. We used a flip chart to make three take-away points:

 

  1. Smart Meters are NOT the Smart Grid
  2. Markets will lead the way NOT the Utilities
  3. Take Action for healthy, cost effective Solutions

The first point is the conflated WP_20160723_11_12_43_Prodefinition and greenwashing clarification. We left this chart up throughout the day and it was an eye-opener to most people. All along, people were surprised that being against so called “smart” meters did NOT mean we were against the actual “smart” GRID. This is very important information. Our booth emphasized the fire hazard today.

“Smart” Meters

“Smart” Grid

Centralized Revenue Control No New Meters required
Fire Hazard Distributed Renewable Energy Generation
Costly (Capital, rates, TOU) Sensors for outage detection
Loss of Privacy Electricity Supply/Demand Balancing
Health Risk Reduces use of Fossil Fuels
Grid Vulnerability by Hacking (9/30 substations) Creates Green Jobs
Negative Environmental impact
Automation = Job Loss

WP_20160723_11_19_02_ProThe second point was about Utilities versus the Markets. The Markets will be the driving force of rooftop solar energy and any renewable energy generation. The Utilities are stuck in a century old model that cannot change with the times. Seattle City Light for all its virtues as a carbon neutral, green energy provider are forced to focus on economies-of-scale, reducing costs by automating billing and other field services with “smart” meters. Demand for electricity, especially among residential customers, is going down just with conservation and energy efficiency programs. The Utility simply CANNOT afford to support decentralized, renewable energy. This is why incentives are being reduced and solar is NOT being promoted.

Utilities Market
Centralized Distributed
Fixed production Innovative
Inflexible Flexible
Need to control users Independence
Need to maintain or increase demand Installations of Solar up 94% since 2015
Economies of Scale Solar power becoming more affordable
Increasing rates built in Decreasing cost built in
Monopoly, no incentive to change Driving innovation and change
1 producer, many users Many producers, many users

WP_20160723_11_28_30_ProFinally, we talked solutions, what actions can we the public take to move the conversation towards progress, cost effective, renewable energy integration into the electricity grid. We started the conversation with these obvious ideas:

 

Solutions

Construction Codes
Incentive Policies
Community Organizing
Need Storage R&D

One person in our audience suggested creating special loan products that allowed people to pay the same monthly rate for electricity but to a loan provider, and the loan could be sold with the house. What a brilliant idea.

Solar Fest 2016-rs2Thanks to John Frink, Nancy Morris, Carolyn Mateos, and Sonia Hoglander for manning the booth. Thanks to Cher and David Ward for helping with equipment and materials.

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