Why rooftop solar users should pay to maintain the grid

To the editor: Evan Gillespie fails to point out some important reasons the California Public Utilities Commission might rework a rate structure that he says protects those who use the least amount of energy. ("PUC may short-circuit California's fair, progressive electricity rate policy," op-ed, May 18)

First, the viability of rooftop solar depends on the same wires and power plants that serve customers without solar. If rooftop solar customers don't pay for part of it, the difference has to be made up by everyone else.


Second, with solar power there can be too much of a good thing. Right now there are periods when the amount of solar energy and certain other supply sources exceeds electricity demand, in which case the grid operator may have to pay other utilities to take the excess.

In both cases, the burden will grow over time and will fall most heavily on consumers who are unable to install solar on their rooftops. The allegedly progressive policy advocated by Gillespie may look that way in the short term, but over the long term it becomes quite regressive.

Jack Ellis, Tahoe City, Calif.

The writer is a power industry consultant.


To the editor: Gillespie spells out the predicament the low-tier power users are in.

I have a 94% solar-powered system that provides me with low-tier electricity. The monopoly of the investor-owned utility companies is lobbying hard to increase the rates of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 electricity users. This will punish us for our commitment to conservation and a clean environment while rewarding big business, the Tier 4 users, for its overuse.

This is one more example of monopolies overreaching to exploit an environmentally concerned citizenry. This is hardly an example of free-market capitalism.

Deborah Hoyle-Lloyd, Palm Desert

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