As much as I hate to admit it, maybe the “Occupy Movement” has it right. Maybe there is some truth to what they are saying? Maybe, where there is smoke, there is fire?
In much of life, here in the US, we have an equal chance to do our thing. And in that sense the Occupy people are wrong. They just want socialism so they can loaf instead of produce. But there are places in life where they are dead right!!!
I just found one of those places. As many of you know I just finished installing a 2kw wind turbine at my house. From preliminary testing, it looks like I will be producing more power than I am using. That is GOOD, right? I will be leaving a smaller carbon footprint and I will be producing “excess generation” (that’s a buzz word that politicians like to use) that will help someone else to reduce their carbon footprint. And I am doing it all “on my own dime” as they say. No government subsidy. All good things. Even Obama is all for my doing this green thing with alternative energy.
What was my motivation? Am I a “greenie”? Did government give me a subsidy? No, I am of Scotch ancestry and I can’t stand to spend money! The government didn’t have a thing to do with my ancestory…..I dont think. But the government, Texas Utility Commission, did have an incentive that helped me to make the decision. At the time I started, the TUC had a regulation that all utility suppliers were REQUIRED to purchase “excess generation” from anyone that presented it, with some restrictions. This mandate on the utility suppliers would make it a bit more economical for me to build the system because it allowed me to amortize the costs faster.
What happened? The 1% got to me! First the restrictions on the system that I could have were onerous. Requirements were added to the regulations by the 1%, the various BIG power suppliers. Requirements that made no sense. To begin with there is a disconnect requirement that allows the utility to manually disconnect the system anytime they want. OK, that’s a good one. They have to protect their Grid from a faulty generation system. Then there is the regulation that the system has to be “anti islanding”. For you that don’t understand that, it means that if the grid goes down, your system will automatically disconnect from the grid. This is necessary to protect others from you sending power into a hurricane damaged system, a downed pole, etc. The maintenance people cannot be subject to electrocution if your system continues to supply power after the utility or an accident has shut it down. Again, a reasonable restriction.
But after that, what else do you need. The generation system can be anything your heart desires as long as it will automatically disconnect and can be manually disconnected by the utility. And NOW, with the smart meters, they can shut you down from the home office!!! So safety is now fully protected.
Now, what should these regulations promote? Well, for one thing they should promote innovation. innovation is stifled in the 1%. All they want is profit and trying “new stuff” usually costs money. BUT…the little guy, the “small generation system”. the individual should be free to experiment and, MAYBE, invent something new? Now we come to one of the most onerous of the requirements. The TUC, influenced I am sure, by the lobbyists from the industry that sells wind turbines and solar cells, decided that the equipment (that is completely the property of the individual and completely protected, both ways, from the grid) must have a 5 year warranty. Why are they worried about my economic situation? Obviously that is meant to insure that all systems be purchased from the high priced US manufacturers. That does not allow any “home brew” innovation. It also does not allow purchasing systems from overseas where they are much cheaper than the union wage influenced US systems. Are we not for “Free Trade”?
Then to pile insult on injury, when the Taft Wind Field (1%) came on line just north of here, the lobbyists for them, in order to protect a monopoly (can we say 1%) went to Austin and got the TUC to remove the mandate that all utilities must purchase “excess energy”. Even though, with the onerous requirements, it was not likely to happen anyway. They convinced the TUC to change the wording from a mandate to a suggestion that they were ALLOWED to purchase “excess energy”. Now all but four of the utility suppliers have dropped the “buy back” option.
I called NEC to ask if they would buy my “excess generation” and was told “Not at this time”. When I asked why they told me that in four years they had only had 11 requests for that service. I suggested to them that the lack of the service being offered just might be the reason no one is spending $10,000 to $30,000 to set up to supply the “excess generation”, you think? You cannot invest in a generation system if there is no market for your excess!!
This is the 1% trying the stifle the 99% pure and simple. Now, there is very little incentive for the individual to “go green” and produce his/her own energy. If you can get the system running you may not be able to connect it to the grid just because you don’t have a 5 year warranty. Or because the home inspector didn’t like it for some unknown reason. The inspectors should NOT be interested in WHAT you are connecting to the grid as long as the grid is fully protected. They cannot tell you that the toaster you connect in the kitchen must have a warranty or be a certain brand!! The grid is protected from the toaster by mandated fuses or breakers. If the toaster fails and your house burns down, that is your problem, not big governments. As long as the grid is protected from your incompetency, you should be allowed to be incompetent. That is a fundamental right. There is no fundamental right to government controlled success!