Colton looks to green energy to cut electric costs
Utility rates remain a sore subject from living rooms to City Hall as election season heats up and candidates promise to reduce the cost of living in comfort.
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#1 Oct 23, 2012
Good article. Two points stand out.
"According to Kolk, the city has the capacity to serve a 125 megawatt load, but remains at about a 95 megawatt peak. One megawatt powers about 700 homes, he says.
"So we have this additional generation that's sitting there, and it has a cost association,"
Solar power, not a bad choice in California, can 'level the peaks' by supplying the power to run A/C and cut the 'idle load' requirements.
Cleaning up the oversupply and leveling power supply vs demand will go a long way to fixing the problems in idle generation that 'conventional power' has created. Fix the blame where it belongs.
Customers should take steps to keep energy costs down, says Kolk, who doesn't believe slapping a solar panel on the roof is necessarily the best fix.
"For most residential ratepayers, it does not pay for itself," he says. "They are better off taking the $20,000 they would spend and do weatherizing, replacing their appliances, upgrading their insulation and windows."
Exactly. Cost savings from lower energy NEEDS are generally more than from developing new supplies. This will exacerbate the 'idle capacity' problem unless solar farms are implemented and idle capacity shut down, but that is the way to go.
#2 Oct 23, 2012
Idle capacity do explain.
#3 Oct 23, 2012
Well, the utilities are set up to deliver power no matter what the demand is. That is, if the highest demand during the year is 100 MW then they must have the resources to deliver 100 MW. But if the AVERAGE demand is 50 MW, then those other 50 MW of power generation stand idle waiting JUST IN CASE the demand goes up. This is a waste and expensive, especially if the demand varies a lot. The plants that are NOT supplying electricity still have to be services, manned, and ready, costing but not delivering.
Normally the peak power rises during the day and reaches a minimum during the night. Anything to 'level' demand makes for more effective use of investment and therefore lower power bills.
Two things can help. Electric car charging or hot water heating timed to occur in the night to increase demand during the low period.
And additional capacity from solar that peaks just when the demand for A/C peaks in the daytime.
Both would reduce the excess capacity and it's costs.
Or a radical idea. Make the cost of power variable depending on demand. I.e. real-time price setting based on how expensive the overall generation is (high demand means adding expensive sources such as the spot market) that could be 'tapped into' by appliances to have them run when the power is cheaper to PRODUCE.
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