Chuck Muth’s Shockingly Electrifying Untruths

confusedI read Mr. Muth’s solar untruths with dismay in the March 31-April 2 Humboldt Sun.  Mr. Muth appears to be promulgating ALEC propaganda to bias folks against Solar Energy. Homeowners who don’t have solar panels on their roofs are NOT being ripped off by their neighbors who do. The only true statement in his entire opinion piece was:  “When it comes to electricity generation and transmission, I don’t know a kilowatt from J.J. Watt.”  He should have ended it there.

Instead, Mr. Muth went on to claim, “Net Metering is how those with rooftop solar panels are able to cut their power bills at our expense.”  First off, folks with rooftop solar panels technically, do NOT sell their excess generation to NV Energy. In accordance with regulated installation requirements, every KWH generated must be delivered to the grid for NV Energy (NVE) to use as they see fit.  Secondly, those same folks with rooftop solar panels must then purchase every single KWH their household uses.  The “net” meter keeps track of how much power is delivered to NVE as well as how much is drawn from the grid for household usage.  If a household generates more than what is used, the difference is “banked,” as a credit, for later use.

[(KWHG – KWHU) – KWHB] = KWH Net

If KWH Net = $0, then BILL = Min. Monthly Cost to Serve

  KWHG = Kilowatt-Hours Generated
KWHU = Kilowatt-Hours Used
KWHB = Kilowatt-Hours Banked

Mr. Muth goes on to claim “the power company can purchase or generate electricity at far lower prices from traditional power plants than what the government forces them to pay to your neighbor with rooftop solar panels.”  Umm, wrong!  Electricity generated using solar rooftop panels is far cheaper than what it would cost to have to cycle a large coal-fired generator up and down as electrical demands ebb and flow.  NVE’s peak loads occur during the day, when solar generation is greatest. That’s when demand for electricity peaks — especially in the summer when air conditioners are running full tilt.  It’s ludicrous for Mr. Muth to claim that starting up another coal-fired, turbine generator in the middle of the day to cover maybe just a partial load is cheaper. It’s far cheaper to use rooftop solar-generated power that consumes NO fuel, NO chemicals to clean up the stack gases, NO chemical processes to clean up the water needed to make steam, NO maintenance costs, NO plant personnel costs, NO overhead costs, etc.

Further, Mr. Muth claims, “your electric bill is higher than it should be because your power company is forced by the government to pay an ‘above-market price’ for electricity to your neighbors…” Hello? Your neighbor does NOT sell generation to NV Energy at “above-market” prices. Credit for any excess generation is “banked,” not sold.

I’m not rich. I consider my rooftop solar array an investment in the future.  Yes, Congress appropriated money to be used to provide tax rebates to folks who installed rooftop generation. And yes, I took advantage of those rebates, just as anyone would for any other tax rebate. Plus, because I paid for my installation, I own the “alternative energy generation credits (AEGCs).”  In a given year, if NVE has insufficient AEGCs to meet state/federal requirements, they may offer to buy AEGCs from homeowners. AEGCs are not equivalent to KWHs and offers to buy them have no equivalency to “above-market KWH price.”

Please keep in mind that AEGCs do NOT apply to every rooftop solar array. Many of your neighbors didn’t buy or finance their solar installation themselves. They financed it through NVE (Program used by NVE to meet their alternative energy generation requirements).  They may have panels, but NVE owns all AEGCs for that generation.  The homeowner may be able to “bank” excess KWH generated for use against a later bill, but they own NO AEGCs to sell. So, how is it Mr. Muth thinks they receive “above-market” prices for any solar generation?

Lastly, why is it that Mr. Muth, and his friends at ALEC, are so upset with homeowners who’ve installed rooftop solar?  Corporations have also installed rooftop solar, yet he has absolutely nothing to say about corporations, such as Walmart. Corporations have much larger rooftop solar arrays than any homeowner I’m aware of. If they won’t give up theirs, why should I give up mine?