A good month or so of solar photovoltaic production and a nine day vacation put me back in the black in terms of energy production and consumption:
Eighty two kilowatt hours of clean, green solar electricity production above my household consumption to be specific.
As you notice from the image above my bill is not zero or even net positive. Why? The dreaded facility charge or connection fee. What is this? It is the fee charged by your electricity provider for the use of the grid regardless of your electricity consumption or, in my case, production.
Now, the grid essentially acts as my battery since I have a purely grid-tied solar system. It does not seem like a heavy burden to bear per month for the security of having electricity on demand. However, in some states—here’s looking at you Arizona—legislators, hand in hand with their energy company lobbyists, are pursuing fees for connecting solar systems and higher facility charges in general to supposedly offset the costs incurred by these systems being active. Some states have proposed that solar system owners pay an extra per kilowatt hour fee for each kilowatt hour that they draw from the grid.
This all seems fine and dandy to the people running electric utilities, but it may end up creating the conditions for a death spiral. As costs for battery storage decrease and solar systems proliferate households may choose to sever their connection to the grid entirely. In high cost or low reliability locations this is already happening. As increasing numbers of households leave the grid the existing infrastructure is supported by fewer rate payers increasing the individual household’s share of the costs. Costs go up and the incentive to sever ties to the grid increases thus more households make the leap.
None of this will occur overnight, so to speak, but the conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for such a transition to take place.