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US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: pdq
Date: July 28, 2022 08:27AM
It’s the usual suspects - Florida Power and Light, fighting tooth and nail against anyone who threatens their sweet monopoly with crazy ideas like solar power.

The Orlando Sentinel apparently did the investigatory work, but they may be behind a paywall. The Guardian has a decent review of the shenanigans:

Quote

The CEO of the biggest power company in the US had a problem. A Democratic state senator was proposing a law that could cut into Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) profits. Landlords would be able to sell cheap rooftop solar power directly to their tenants – bypassing FPL and its monopoly on electricity.



Quote

Within minutes, one of them forwarded the directive to the CEO of Matrix, LLC, a powerful but little-known political consulting firm that has operated behind the scenes in at least eight states.

Rodríguez [the state senator] was ousted from office in the next election. Matrix employees spent heavily on political advertisements for a candidate with the same last name as Rodríguez, who split the vote. That candidate later admitted he was bribed to run.

Records obtained by Floodlight and the Orlando Sentinel show that Matrix consulted for FPL, as well as another Florida company, Gulf Power, and Alabama Power. Matrix affiliated groups have also worked to advance power companies’ interests in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, [and] Georgia…

Matrix’s work touched almost every level of politics, from influencing local mayoral and county commission elections to combating attempts to reshape the state constitution. In each of those cases, Matrix was working against politicians or policies fighting to curb the climate crisis by encouraging renewable power.

Well, that’s a nice productive use of rate-payers’ money.

Quote

Big power companies operate as monopolies with captive customers in much of the south-east US. They are supposed to be closely regulated, but their profits and unchecked political spending makes them some of the most powerful entities in a state.

And so on. The only reason we’re seeing this now is that some of Matrix’s principals are now suing each other and the documents in the case are turning over some ugly rocks.
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Acer
Date: July 28, 2022 08:38AM
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: July 28, 2022 10:45AM
The oil companies tried buying up patents and rights to PV cells as early as 1973.

Quote
Daily Press
-- In 1973, Karl Boer formed Solar Energy Systems to market photovoltaic cells. He then transferred the majority of his stock to Shell Oil Co.

-- Around 1974, Mobil Oil, in a joint venture with Tyco Laboratories, created Mobil-Tyco Solar Energy Corp.

-- In 1975, Exxon assumed Solar Power Corp. as its wholly owned subsidiary.

-- In 1977, Atlantic Richfield Co. invested in a photovoltaic company in Camarillo and began manufacturing solar cells and panels.



In tha 360. MRF User Map
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Lux Interior
Date: July 28, 2022 11:24AM
Using the sun to create electricity for free w/o making greenhouse gasses is COMMUNISM!
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Rolando
Date: July 28, 2022 11:36AM
I will take an not completely thought out point of view.

Buying solar at retail is welfare for the rich.

Generally, only the more affluent can afford panels.

Tell me why I'm wrong.



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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Ted King
Date: July 28, 2022 12:00PM
Quote
Rolando
I will take an not completely thought out point of view.

Buying solar at retail is welfare for the rich.

Generally, only the more affluent can afford panels.

Tell me why I'm wrong.

Seems to be true, but I also think it is true that if the same amount of government money was devoted to subsidizing a large part of the installation of panels for lower income people, then there would be less installation of solar panels. I think it's a trade off and I'm sympathetic to allocating more toward lower income people, but I would also like to optimize the installation of panels to help against climate change. I'm not sure what the right balance is. To be completely fair, we should use government funds to establish solar powered charging stations in strategic places for homeless people - all for free - even though allocating money that way does reduce the number of panels that could be put up by doing "welfare for the rich". I don't think I'm dogmatic about this, just trying to find what feels like a good balance of trade offs.



e pluribus unum
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Acer
Date: July 28, 2022 12:25PM
Our neighbors in our tract of modest 1950s cape cods put in an array for an eye-popping $60 grand. I don't know the size, but the panels are typical size for roof installations in our area, to my eye. Just using napkin math, using my own combined pre-inflation gas and electric level bill of about $200, assuming 100% replacement, that's a 25 year break-even point.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/28/2022 12:27PM by Acer.
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: July 28, 2022 12:40PM
Pretty soon the power companies will be as wicked as the cable companies.



“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.” -- François de La Rochefoucauld

"Those who cannot accept the past are condemned to revise it." -- Geo. Mathias
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: mattkime
Date: July 28, 2022 01:16PM
Just remember - money is speech



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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Lux Interior
Date: July 28, 2022 01:47PM
Quote
Acer
that's a 25 year break-even point.

Probably a doomsday prepper.

Does he get a lot of ammo shipments?
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Acer
Date: July 28, 2022 01:56PM
Quote
Lux Interior
Quote
Acer
that's a 25 year break-even point.

Probably a doomsday prepper.

Does he get a lot of ammo shipments?

It's a very Trump household, FWIW.
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: mattkime
Date: July 28, 2022 04:19PM
Claims payback is more often 4-12 years - [tinyurl.com]







Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/28/2022 04:21PM by mattkime.
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: pdq
Date: July 28, 2022 04:35PM
We put in a ~4 kW system around 3 years ago. (That doesn’t come close to covering our energy usage, but that’s the roof space we had available that pointed the right way). IIRC, it was ~$16k, before the various credits. Maybe 9 year payback.

Panels gave certainly gotten cheaper since then, but installation is probably more now.
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Ombligo
Date: July 28, 2022 05:45PM
There isn't a solar company in my state I would trust. It is like the wild west here with people going door to door claiming impossible results. All offer lifetime guarantees and claim they will never go out of business.

A neighbor got taken in, they were told that they would need to pay to have a new roof put on but the solar portion would be free. The roof cost $35k, which is twice what it should have cost. Then the solar company affiliated with the roofer disappeared.

Until there is some real regulation put in place, I'm not going near it.



“No persons are more frequently wrong, than those who will not admit they are wrong.” -- François de La Rochefoucauld

"Those who cannot accept the past are condemned to revise it." -- Geo. Mathias
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: DinerDave
Date: July 28, 2022 07:26PM
My two cents...

Do not lease the solar panels. Easy to be lured into the free to you panel speech.
Leasing company gets all the tax breaks and incentives.
You still pay for electricity, usually just less than the power company rate.
Lease owners in it for profit, they don't give it away.

When I was investigating solar, I sat down with Solar City. At the time, my all electric house was $260 a month, balloon payment on 12th month. They wanted to cover the entire ranch style roof on both sides with panels for free, but then they would charge me ONLY $192 a month for the electricity I used, forever.
I said no way no deal. I asked, but they were not interested in ground mount, that costs them considerably more.

Months later, I talked to our hometown worker owned coop solar company, PVSquared, the same guys that told me
about reducing my energy usage with mini-splits. That dropped my average to $220 a months, then my son moving out dropped it below $200.
I told PVSquared to go big enough to cover all my power needs, like Solar City was told.
The PV expert said, OK, roof top would be 73% efficient, what if we do ground mounts out back? We decided on a location, 91% efficient. After wasting 9 months dragging my feet, I got brave and signed the agreement.
Second best decision ever, behind marriage.
Yes, it was expensive, total bottom line for my huge 34 panel, 11.39 kWp system was $52,785.
That's what scared me, solar loan was easy in Massachusetts, maxed at $50,000, wrote check for the$2,785.
The 30% Fed tax break had to be spread over 2 years, my tax liability wasn't high enough.
So, subtract $15,835 off the loan which was dumped directly onto principal in addition to our monthly payment.
Also, Mass. has a wonderful Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) program, where Eversource pays me, for all the power I generate whether I use it or it goes back into the grid for others, kind of like a dividend, as I invested in clean energy so Eversource did not have to. I get a quarterly check that fluctuates depending on what I produce, from a low of $50 up to a high of $1177 so far. These also were dumped right on the principal.
Since my mortgage was gone, we paid a little more aggressively on the solar loan. Our electric bill WAS $180/200 when we went solar live, we felt we could afford to $420 a month on the loan. so really we were only shelling out about $130 or so more.
My goal was to pay off the solar loan before I retired. Well, we paid off the loan in 4 years and seven months! Now I have a 100 electric house with no electric bill, and no solar loan, five (5) years before I retire.
Thank you what was formerly known as Northeast Utilities for being short sighted when Mass said they had to produce X% of power green and whining about the cost. Mass. said, OK, pay customers to do it for you. NU thought that would be cheaper, until so many started to do it, now they whined about that. Anyway, to date, (almost half way thru 10 yr SREC program) I have been paid $13,327.24 in SREC money. THAT'S why I could pay off the loan in half the time I expected.
Not sure where accountants put the break even point on this, but for me it has worked out extremely well and was a hell of an investment.

I'm saying all because, 1. I sense the opinions of solar in this thread are not has high as I feel they should be, and 2. to try to get others to say, hey, maybe I should look into this.
As it turns out, now w/o the loan, I did replacing my near death car with a Volt, total free charging at home, some at work too, only charged a a public pay charger once, at set up a Chargepoint act. jus\t in case, for the future.

I'm very open about this, if anyone wants to hear more, get numbers etc, ask here or PM me, nothing to hide.

Dave



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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: July 29, 2022 01:45AM
There isn't a solar company in my state I would trust.


Full disclosure: Though I feel the same way for solar in CA, I've not even considered it at all, and so haven't looked into any companies offering it.

One of the previously local tech mavens, Megan Morrone, (MacBreak Weekly, iOS Today) contacted a popular solar/roofing company for an estimate, and it apparently became The Company from Hell.

All she would say on air is after her 'Thanks, but no thanks' they dunned her with sales pitches via phone and email.

She said she'd provide the whole story to anybody interested if the wanted to drop an email; I didn't.

The company still advertises on the radio, and I think they even employ the 'Veteran Owned' card.

There is another solar company that pushes the 'solar for free' pitch.

I only know one person who has a solar array along with battery storage.

At the time, PG&E bought the excess juice, but I don't know if that's still true.

It was interesting to see the wheel/gear in the meter running backwards.






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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/29/2022 01:46AM by RAMd®d.
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Acer
Date: July 29, 2022 08:52AM
I'd really prefer a solar shingle to become mainstream. I don't want panels bolted on to my asphalt shingle roof that was never designed for such things. I don't have the yard or the clear sky for ground install.
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: kj
Date: July 29, 2022 02:08PM
I'd like to do solar. The sun here is relentless, so that part is good, but I doubt the state does much to encourage it. Plus, our mostly hydro power is really cheap, so the payback might be slow. I think the scams really discourage me from looking in to it though. I wouldn't know how to find out who is good.
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: Speedy
Date: July 30, 2022 03:53AM
DinerDave, thanks for the write up.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: July 31, 2022 12:12PM
Quote
Speedy
DinerDave, thanks for the write up.

Yes, was just about to credit him with the same! Excellent, and I may hit you up, even though I used to do some work with solar a decade ago, you are up to date!
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Re: US power companies secretly spending millions to protect profits and fight clean energy
Posted by: DinerDave
Date: July 31, 2022 04:18PM
Quote
mrbigstuff
Quote
Speedy
DinerDave, thanks for the write up.

Yes, was just about to credit him with the same! Excellent, and I may hit you up, even though I used to do some work with solar a decade ago, you are up to date!

Absolutely, I love the way this worked out for me. I know not everybody has room for grounds mounts like mine, or even suitable roof space. Even 'some' panels will help reduce your carbon footprint. It's the green thing to do.

Dave



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Many have eaten here....

Few have died
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