Rocky Mountain Power plans large-scale solar farm

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  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2014 1:35 p.m.

    Utilities tend to build solar following the nuclear model they are familiar with, that is, in large centralized production facilities. Centralized production makes sense for nuclear (and fossil fuels as well) because the fuel is very energy dense and it's easier to manage waste products (spent fuel for nuclear, ash and gases for fossil, heat for both) when there are fewer sources.

    But why go centralized for solar, building large farms over tens or hundreds of acres? Solar is diffuse, the photons scattered in modest but steady quantities over the entire surface of the planet. Why build devices to gather this diffuse input and concentrate it in one spot, only to turn around and spread it out again to diffuse end users? Why not just locate the collector at the end user and avoid the costs of a distribution system and transmission losses?

    Utilities are accustomed to thinking in large, centralized production terms, but maybe it's time to rethink their business model. Why not take a cue from Ma Bell and lease hardware to individual residential customers? Let every home have its own mini power plant instead of a single mega plant servicing thousands of homes.

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    March 27, 2014 9:07 a.m.

    The problem with the Blue Sky program is that it prices renewables as a premium over the standard rate (of primarily fossil fuels). When fossil fuel prices go up, so do people's renewable energy.

    But here's the rub: Renewable energy is price stable and predictable. Once in the ground, renewable energy costs are fixed and unchanging because there's no fuel cost. People subscribing to Blue Sky shouldn't be penalized with higher prices when fossil fuels go up, because their purchase of renewable energy doesn't change in price.

    Austin Energy had a similar program years ago called Green Choice. Subscribers got their green power at locked-in prices for ten years. The program was so successful, Austin Energy had to use a lottery system to add new subscribers -- demand for green energy was too high, and they couldn't get enough to meet all their customers' demand. What people were buying was price stability and piece of mind -- something you can't get with fossil fuels.

    Gasoline is up about 50 cents a gallon now because of Putin's invasion of Crimea... price of wind? No change.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    March 26, 2014 3:17 p.m.

    The plan would set up 9,000 panels paid for in part by customers choosing to pay extra toward renewable energy efforts.


    I'm the very 1st cheerleader for renewable, green energy sources,
    but these guys are amazing!

    They rob you both coming and going.

    RMP has customer's paying for THEIR new solar panels,
    I'll bet the Federal Government and State as well?

    BTW --
    Is this before, during or after
    in addition to RMP's increased rates for those customers who have already installed their own soalr panels?