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Dinosaurs - Take Two


  07:16:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 279 words  
Categories: Utilities, Commercial Solar, Ranting

Dinosaurs - Take Two

There are two competing memes traversing the world of distributed energy generation - the “net metering is unfair” meme (only heard from utilities and their lackeys) and the “utilities are dinosaurs” meme (originally only touted by pro-renewable evangelists like, well, yours truly).

Walmart logo

Far too early to see which meme will win out in the end, but the dinosaurs meme just got a major boost from an unlikely source - Walmart.

Hat tip to our friends over at Climate Crocks for flagging the story about Walmart putting real teeth into its previously stated commitment to generate 100% of its energy from renewable sources.  According to Walmart CEO Mike Duke:

More than ever, we know that our goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy is the right goal and that marrying up renewables with energy efficiency is especially powerful… The math adds up pretty quickly — when we use less energy, that’s less energy we have to buy, and that means less waste and more savings. These new commitments will make us a stronger business, and they’re great for our communities and the environment.

The math adds up pretty quickly for the utilities as well.  Given the size of Walmart’s operations - more than 10,000 stores in more than 20 countries - this is a big deal.  Indeed, Walmart is promising to increases its renewable energy production six-fold over the remainder of this decade - and it already produces enough renewable energy in the U.S. to power 78,000 homes!

No doubt the utilities will decry Walmart’s commitment as “unfair."  But when they do, their bellowing is likely to be heard as the dying sound of the last dinosaur, slipping into the swamp of a business model that has no future.



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As usual the truth will be somewhere in the middle: net metering is an excellent push for decentralized energy production, but on the other side, someone needs to pay for the infrastructure. That someone will be the remaining people, exclusively using energy produced elsewhere. Obviously, this only works as long as at least 80% of customers are not producing their own energy…. In The Netherlands, where I live, the net metering obligation for utilities is considered the major subsidy for PV energy.
05/05/13 @ 23:14
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO
Good point but it comes down to rate design. The folks pushing for net metering did not design the rate structures used by the IOUs - they did (subject to approval by the PUC). But since non-solar customers are subject to the same rates, the utilities are equally impacted by energy efficiency measures which are having a much larger impact on energy usage than residential solar - at least so far.
05/06/13 @ 06:30

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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