18.11.08

ELECTRICITY KEEPING ITS OWN BOOKS. I've used that phrase before, generally in reference to electrically operated railroads. (Keep scrolling)
The Milwaukee's publicists were somewhat more colorful (40 Trains 46, July 1970, print edition.)
The restored current automatically sets back the power company's meters and credits the Railway with the amount. Electricity keeping its own books, forsooth!
In practice, it looks like this.



That's Armed Liberal, showing off the new solar power plant.

The video resolves a question that I asked in the same post.
Ah, but at what rate does the Power Company credit the consumer? Michael at Knowledge Problem has discovered an Iowa regulatory case in which "setting back the meter" isn't good enough for the Power Company, who would like to buy at wholesale and sell at retail.
Under net metering, a retail energy consumer with a small generator is only billed by the electric utility for the net power consumption over the billing period. In the Iowa case, the cooperative wanted to charge the retail consumer the retail price for power the consumer took from the system, and pay the retail consumer a lower “avoided cost” rate for any power the consumer put back into the system. The plaintiffs wanted to to be paid at the higher retail rate for power put back into the system.
We're observing a standard household meter running in reverse, which suggests Armed Liberal accumulates credits at the retail rate for power returned to the grid. I suspect the additional cost of replacing the meters to keep track of power delivered from the power company separately from the power returned to the power company, and training the meter readers, exceeds the gain to the power company from selling at retail and buying at wholesale, particularly if the wholesale price itself varies. (Under the laws of physics, load must match production second-by-second. Enron's play in California was to contract for the output of small independent power producers in order to hold-up the grid operator at peak times. It's not too hard to conceive of situations in which the output of a few household solar cells and wind turbines becomes the critical block of power that keeps the grid stable.)

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