Solar Versus Utilities


Do utilities company use solar electric panels for producing electricity?

Most concentrating solar power systems use concentrated sunlight to drive a traditional steam turbine, creating electricity on a large scale. There are also concentrating solar technologies that use photovoltaic technology to produce electricity without a thermal process. See

In what states are solar panels not legal?

As of 2014, the states where solar panels are illegal are: Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and some other Southern states. This may change over time. This is probably due to the push back from utility companies, and there may be some safety reasons due to the amount of heat perhaps. See

What is the fight between solar and utilities about? What are the arguments and counter-arguments?

  • Utilities says that customers who install solar panels are buying less energy from utilities (or in some cases, zero-out their money bill). Customers with solar panels are using the grid for back-up purpose. The point is that utilities are not able to sell energy to these customers, and are not making a profit from these customer, but in order to maintain the grid, utilities will have to raise rate on customers who do not have solar panels (the ones that are poor and therefore cannot afford solar panels).
  • A recent cost-benefit analysis of California’s net-metering policy found some customers paying slightly more as a result of others’ solar panels, but on average the state’s electricity customers were benefiting from the customer installations more than the systems’ owners. In other words, California customers who have used solar panels to lower their electric bills are the ones subsidizing everybody else. “They found despite utilities’ claims … about customers not paying their fair share of the fixed costs, it’s actually the opposite,” Farrell said. The January 2013 report, prepared by consulting firm Crossborder Energy for the Vote Solar Initiative, looked at a broader range of benefits than most utilities acknowledge. For example, customer-owned solar panels can lower transmission costs and postpone local equipment upgrades. See
  • In the end, it’s really complicated. You can’t take that study from California and generalize it for any utility. The variables range from grid congestion to rate structures. Without a specific cost-benefit analysis, you can’t just assume customer-owned generation adds costs. See

What are the strategies that solar can use to win?

  1. Get together with other solar evangelists, SEIA, solar companies and ask this very same question.
  2. Lobby each state or city government to mandate utilities to reduce carbon footprint, stop burning coal, and build solar power plant
  3. Drive down the cost of solar panels so that everyone can afford it, or make leasing option more widely available
  4. Appeal to residents about the benefits that solar panels has on the environment, and let them take it up with their statement government elected officials.
  5. Make portable outdoor solar power stove (you can do cooking outside the house on a sunny day if your outdoor kitchen has roof), refrigerator, and air conditioner (cool air can be routed back into the house), TV (you can watch TV in your patio outside the house), etc, more available. Rooftop panels may not be legal on the roof of the house, but are they illegal in the back or front yard?
  6. Drive solar panels adoption both from inside and outside the US. If solar panels are widely adopted outside the US, chance are that all the states in the US will follow.
  7. Educate the residents about the way that utilities work, and appeal to them that it is their right to use solar, and let them take it up with their statement government elected officials, and we can have our people running for state governments offices (such as state assembly, state senate)
  8. Promote solar jobs in each state
  9. Discuss and work with utilities to work out a plan that is good for everyone (the customers, solar, utilities, the environment, the climate)
  10. Track all the states where solar panels are currently illegal, until solar panels are legal in all of them.

Why do large blackout happen?

Major power disturbances can be triggered by storms, heat waves, solar flares, and many other sources, but all have roots in the mechanical and human vulnerabilities of the power grids themselves. "Power delivery systems have a lot of parts, wires, transformers, and other components all nicely tied together—which means there are a lot of things that can go wrong," explained Clark Gellings of the nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute. "Pieces break down and people make errors. A system is designed to tolerate a certain amount of disruption but past a certain point, it's simply gone too far and it falls apart." See

When was the great Northeast blackout?

November 1965. The "great Northeast blackout," which began when a power surge near Ontario set off a chain of failures across New York State and beyond, covered 80,000 square miles. "Within four minutes the line of darkness had plunged across Massachusetts all the way to Boston," reported The New York Times on the day of the outage. "It was like a pattern of falling dominoes—darkness sped southward through Connecticut, northward into Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Canada." See

What can be done to prevent large blackout?


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