How about if the public electricity grid allowed input as well as output from anywhere, and you would be paid for what you put into it.
So, if you put solar panels on your roof and you had surplus electricity, you just pumped it out on the energy net. You would then get a credit on the electricity bill and somebody else could use the energy, without unnecessary polution.
If you lived by a stream or you had a lot of sunlight, you could contribute to the global energy supply.
A distributed energy net would also be much less vulnerable. The electricity grid could maybe be organized a bit like the Internet. A fault-tolerant network with many inputs and outputs that anybody can contribute to or draw benefit from.
Here in Oregon, there is a guy who has done just that... In fact he is so efficent that he supplies the energy of three local neighbors, and was still getting $50 a month back from the electric company. BUT since the electric company is big buisness, they are trying everything they can to shut him down. Including getting the city to raise his taxes (this paticular company runs the city water also, and supplies a fair number of jobs...) They tried to get the EPA on him because his, qoute 'solar panels killed a rare grass growing in his yard, by blocking sunlight during certain times of the day' (He fixed that by moving the panels six inches up the roof.)
I have no idea what has come of this, except I assume he either gave up, or the company is still harrasing him.
This is already being trialled (for some years now) in some suburbs of Melbourne, and possibly also other parts of Australia. I believe it is in fact possible to generate enough electricity to end up having them pay you!
> How about if the public electricity grid allowed input as well as output
> from anywhere, and you would be paid for what you put into it.
As it happens, you can already do this. I am not a lawyer, but I'm almost 100% sure that federal law *requires* that the power companies buy any electricity you have to sell. No, they aren't happy about this, but so far very few people do it so it isn't a problem. They figure that just a bunch of "fringe eco-freak nut-cases" do it and no one else will. I doubt that we will lose our need for the power companies any time soon, but hopefully as more and more people discover how easy it is to do this kind of thing (and as solar technology get chepaer and better), it will happen more often.
> Is having a grid ready the best solution? [...]
I have a catalog of stuff for people who want modern conveniences in remote locations. (I can provide more info if people are interested.) They sell kits for powering your house (or remote cabin) via solar energy (or wind or water). I seem to remember the solar kits costing anywhere between $4000 and $12000 depending on your needs. Some crude arithmetic in my head told me that the payback for taking yourself off the grid would be more than ten years.
But I didn't consider inflation, or the fact that you could sell electricity back to the power company.
I'm not certain if it is federal law but I know a number of states mandate that their power companies buy all available electric power as long as it meets standards.
I'm only aware of two groups that are currently selling power to the utilities. A number of industrial plants use waste process heat to generate their own electricity. They sell whatever they can't use back to the grid. The utilities have complained that they lose money because the excess tends to be at off peak hours when there is already excess capacity.
Also here in New England, a number of small private hydro- generating dams were refurbished in the late 70's. After originally complaining, the utilities are now pleased to buy their output. I heard a utility executive explain that the cost of the control and switching systems are now low enough that they can buy from relatively small producers economically.
So, cogeneration is alive and well at an industrial level. It also works for"Mom and Pop" hydo producers. I have no idea when it will become feasible to use solar generated DC on power grids.
this sounds a whole lot like the Global Energy Grid first proposed by Bucky Fuller. A very exciting idea, and one which seems to be well on the way to being implemented..
Check 'Critical Path' by R. Buckminster Fuller; St Martin's Press 1981, ISBN 0-312-17491-8 for more details on this. Progress reports on the Global Energy Grid are also regularly published in Robert Anton Wilson's quarterly 'Trajectories' newsletter. Contact The Permanent Press, PO Box 700305, San Jose, CA 95170 for subscription info.
>> As it happens, you can already do this. I am not a lawyer, but I'm
>> almost 100% sure that federal law *requires* that the power companies buy
>> any electricity you have to sell. No, they aren't happy about this, but
>> so far very few people do it so it isn't a problem. They figure that
>> just a bunch of "fringe eco-freak nut-cases" do it and no one else will.
>> I doubt that we will lose our need for the power companies any time soon,
>> but hopefully as more and more people discover how easy it is to do this
>> kind of thing (and as solar technology get chepaer and better), it will
>> happen more often.
You are indeed correct.
There are allowed fixed costs that amount to a couple of thousand dollars for things like a device to prevent you from supplying power to a portion of the grid that the utility thinks is dead [this can ruin a lineman's whole day].
If you wanted to supply hundreds of kilowatts or megawatts there would probably be variable costs too, but Doug Linder is correct.
In Israel (where I lived for several years) local kibbutzim (economic and social cooperatives) got together and erected windmills to catch the steady wind in the Central Galilee. The electricity generated by five of these was enough to power the settlements plus stuff power down the Electric Company's throat (it's the same all over!). It worked so well there's a project somewhere in California to do the same thing, except that the power company is putting up the windmills.
These sound like a wonderful way for communities interested in (A) lower power bills and (B) helping the environment to set up such stations where applicable. The power companies might not be so disinclined to buy the power back, especially in remoter areas where maintenance and upkeep of their lines costs more money. This could be a real breadwinner for an entrepanuer willing to go out and find candidate communities, then set up local power cooperatives and set things up.
Hmmm... might be even better than this job!
re: Shared electric grid
One technical difficulty in supplying electricity to the existing power grid is that one has to be <in sync> with the utility's 60hz cycle, or the utilitiy's much larger power will overwhelm the smaller system [not good for equipment.] A person near my home tried to establish a windmill farm; he had no trouble with one windmill, but apparently was never able to get all three windmills he ultimately built to operate on the same cycle.
But the electric utilities manage to synchronize multiple power stations, so it can be done.
I suggest going one step further, and divesting the electric utility of ALL generating capacity [except a limited backup system] and limiting it to the sole justification for its monopoly status. i.e. maintaining the power grid.
Permit consumers to subscride to competing power suppliers, much as they now purchase long distance phone service.
A> Spare consumers who are now forced to bail out power company boodogles [such as one-off nuclear power plants] Make a bad decision, go out of business, just like the rest of business;
B> Permit environment-conscious consumers to put their money where their convictions are. I suspect there would be an instant market for industrial solar, wind, etc. technologies, and market-based incentive for further development;
C> Encourage development of uniform, reliable nuclear power generation.