Archive for October 2015

Evolution is inevitable in everything. To try and stop evolution is usually an exercise in futility that inevitably ends in failure. But when trying to stop evolution costs people money and delays the obvious its just sad. And should be stopped. Solar energy in California is growing at an amazing pace. Builders like City Ventures have been including solar power systems in new homes as a standard amenity for 5 years now. The future of the standard power grid is in jeopardy and its demise is inevitable. And the utilities companies are doing what they can to delay the inevitable and we need to stop their helpless attempts at delaying the evolution of power generation.

In October the utility companies are proposing new laws aimed at curtailing the solar power mania that has changed their entire business model. As I said its an exercise in futility but monopolies never go down easy.

Currently the “net metering” policies that exist pay a solar customer for the power they generate through their solar power systems at the same rate as the power they charge them. In other words if I pay 8 cents per kilowatt hour for power, the utility companies pay me 8 cents per kilowatt hour for the power my solar system feeds into the grid when I’m not using it. If the energy I use matches the energy I supply to the grid, then I pay zero for my electric bill. In this case the grid is a back-up supply of energy. If my household uses the same amount of energy that I generate then my home is a net zero energy home and the only reason I need to be connected to the grid is in an emergency situation.

The economics of this encourage the installation of solar power. I don’t need to spend much time on how this benefits Mother Earth from a climate change point of view and I probably don’t need to spend much time on how saving consumers money on a monthly basis in terms of energy costs is a good thing. But apparently I need to spend some time asking why the utility companies feel the inevitable needs to be put off. I remember when the newspapers thought the internet was a cute fad that would never interfere with their business model of supplying the public with information. They ignored the onslaught and did what they could to fend it off never actually embracing the inevitable in an attempt to modify or EVOLVE their business model to embrace the internet. The result was what we have now. Newspapers are essentially dead. Evolution won. And it always does.

And it will win in the energy sector as well. The utility companies want to fend off evolution by paying people less and less for the energy their solar systems supply to the grid and charge them more and more for the upkeep and maintenance of the current system. In basic terms they want to pay a solar provider 4 cents per kilowatt hour for power they provide and then turn around and charge someone else 8 cents per kilowatt hour for the same energy. They become a middleman. It actually discourages solar power installation as it makes it less of an economic benefit for someone to install it.

We can’t allow this. Evolution is unavoidable. Power grids are the newspapers of the 2020’s. They need to embrace solar power generation in homes and businesses as the obvious evolution of energy and evolve their business models to what that means. I’ll admit I don’t know what the answer is but I do know that trying to stand in the way of evolution is a losing proposition. The smart minds in the utility companies need to spend less time trying to figure out how to fend off the inevitable and more time trying to figure out how to embrace what is inevitable and evolve their business model to include solar power generation.

Mother Earth would be very happy if they did, as would consumers.

Until next time



The Green Builder’s Journal is written by Herb Gardner, President of City Ventures Home Building Group. Herb has 30 years experience managing the building of residential and apartment communities in over 60 municipalities in 3 different states.

A big proponent of in-fill communities and the urban lifestyle Mr. Gardner has extensive experience in all aspects of residential home building, ranging from land acquisition to warranty management, he specializes in managing teams of people in delivering communities on time, on budget and to the quality standards the marketplace demands.

For Questions, Feedback or observations you can Click here to Email Herb