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Large-scale utility projects have grown rapidly in recent years; Texas ranks seventh in nation

By Ryan Maye Handy

The installed capacity of so-called utility-scale projects — greater than one megawatt, or enough to power 200 homes on a hot Texas day — has increased an average of more than 70 percent a year between 2010 and 2016 to about 21,500 megawatts, with about half of that capacity coming online in the last two years.
Texas has lagged other states in solar power growth, largely because it does not offer any tax credits or other incentives. It also lacks a so-called net metering law which requires utilities to buy excess power from rooftop and other small systems, which also brings down the cost.
Note: Net-metering is offered by some utilities. CPS Energy of San Antonio does have net-metering.
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Utilities in a lot of areas (especially the South) are now doing their damndest to kill net-metering, or to start adding fees (like $50 a month) to solar customers to "pay for grid use".

Utilities may like solar when they control it, but they hate it when they don't.
You may be correct, but it may also depend on the structure of the utility. I happen to live in San Antonio where our utilities are municipally-owned vs For-profit. The utility's community solar farms were sold out the same week that they became available - which includes net-metering and insurance on the panels that customers purchase.

There are plans to build more of them. This deal is so sweet that had it been around when we were shopping 5 years ago, we'd have been all over it back then. The ownership of the panels is transferable should you leave the service area and the net-metering can move with you across the service area if you're just moving across the metro area - home or apartment.

Here's a recent local radio program that talked about solar in our area.
The problem with wind and solar energy is matching demand. Storing this power in batteries is one solution, and indeed the utilities in my area are beginning to construct large battery storage facilities. But there's another way, and that is the utilities could encourage their customers to install battery storage in their homes and be able to draw from these batteries during peak periods.

My local utility, SDG&E is proposing a plan to encourage residential storage by lowering rates in exchange for allowing them to draw off the battery during peak periods. The plan is to only depleat the battery partially so it would still be available for use by the homeowner. They say this is a win win situation for everyone, lower electricity costs for the homeowner and the utility can refer or offset costs of renewable storage facilities or natural gas power plants to come online during peak periods.

California has sweetened the pot even more with their Self Generation Incentive Program which provides generous rebates for home battery installation which with the Federal tax credit, virtually pays for the battery (unfortunately the initial SGIP funding was sold out the first day, more money will be available for Step 2 applicants but the amount of the rebate is lower).
I've not hear of our utility proposing such a plan, but I think it would go over well here. Right now, their published thinking leans towards utility-grade storage. They've published their intent on their website to actively do feasibility studies on the available technologies out there. I've not looked for any of their findings lately.
Recently in Kentucky, a legislature (pushed by the electric companies) proposed a new bill eliminating net-metering (as most of us know it). It would have forced all new solar installs to use what energy they produce at the time of production. What was sent back into the grid would have been purchased by the electric companies at an extremely reduced rate of 2-3 cents per kWh and would have been sold back to you at 10 cents per kWh. Hmmm, what would this have done for battery storage? People like myself, were exempt for I believe it was 23 years that had already done solar and current net metering rules stayed the same. It also introduced all kinds of tiered structures and allowed the electric companies to charge (whatever they felt was necessary) to pay our fair share (fair share coming from the electric companies point of view because people who have solar obviously sponge off the people who don't). It was a real hack job and just showed their real intentions.

I actually got a flyer and an email from my electric company asking me to support it. Luckily, it prompted a lot of discussion and out-rage and was left in committee to die.
Something similar was attempted here locally in 2013. The outrage was SOOooooo fierce that they had police escorts at the town hall-styled meeting to explain it.

They backed off - changed coarse - and are Solar Friendly now.
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