Guest Opinion: Why electrification now is counterproductive | City center


Comments (41)

posted by James Pistorino
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
January 17, 2022 at 3:13 p.m.

James Pistorino is a registered user.

As a result of Angela Evan’s comment, with her hard work, the work of the EQC and the City Council, most Menlo Park residents are facing higher electricity rates.

Normally, companies can’t automatically sign you up for their services and charge you unless you opt out. For example, Comcast could not automatically sign you up for the highest cable plan and start billing you, without your consent. If they did, you wouldn’t be responsible/Comcast could be committing fraud.

This is exactly how Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) works and, unfortunately, it is required by law. When you bought your house, rented an apartment, etc., you probably signed up for PG&E service, still receive bills from PG&E, and probably think it’s your electricity supplier. In almost all cases this is not true. If you look closely at your invoice, you will see a charge of “PCE”.

PCE is a so-called “community choice aggregator” formed in 2016 by several towns in San Mateo County, including Menlo Park. Web link PCE buys electricity from generators and then resells it to its customers. How does he get customers? They have automatically registered you as such and will charge you unless you object quickly. While PG&E, etc., are prohibited by law from doing so, as a “community choice aggregator”, PCE is not. See Cal.Pub.Util.Code Sec. 366.2. So that’s exactly what PCE did.

It is a source of pride for EQC/City Council that only around 5% of customers realize that they have been involuntarily transferred to another electricity supplier and object to it. If you haven’t realized that they changed you without your consent within a year of their decision, they charge you $5 to remove you from their program. web link

If you’ve been enrolled in the 100% Renewable Energy Program (as described by Angela Evans), you’re likely paying higher rates than if you stayed with PG&E. Search for “comparison of joint EMP rates”.

posted by James Pistorino
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
January 18, 2022 at 5:50 p.m.

James Pistorino is a registered user.

EPL – My second quote was from a paragraph titled: “Seasonal mismatches between renewables and load”.

As shown in Figure 2 of the document, during winter there is not a single hour of the day when wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and storage discharges (combined) account for even 80 % demand. During the fall, it looks like 6 hours could be filled (barely). During winter and fall, most hours of the day, these sources account for less than 25% of the demand. Given this, where do you expect to get excess electricity from, especially at night? The only way to do this would be to store excess electricity generated during the summer (especially), assuming there was such excess power. Again, there is no known battery technology to do this and other storage approaches are impractical at scale, have significant power losses, etc.

Given that all of North America is experiencing winter at the same time and therefore solar generation is at its lowest continent-wide, where would PCE buy the excess solar energy? If you say, “cover Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah in solar panels,” that just means you’re going to massively overbuild and that project has significant costs. If your proposition is to spend 10X+ on electricity, say so. Otherwise, be upfront about the costs. Don’t say “everyone will have to make sacrifices”. Are you ready to pay a $2,000/month electric bill? If this is what your project costs, are you prepared to impose these costs on the lowest wage earners? Or do you propose to have even more people dependent on the government?

Reading the PCE article, they admit that the technology to do storage (other than for very short periods of time) does not exist. Manhattan Contrarian collected articles that assumed such battery technology existed, cost the same as current technology, and calculated the cost of providing sufficient backup to replace electricity. I don’t think I confused anything.

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