German Solar Arrives in the United States


Perhaps the strikes against residential solar roof installations are because of the launch of joint ventures between U.S utilities and major European energy giants.


According to a Reuters story from PR newswire German energy giant E.On Climate & Renewables (EC&R)dedicated its first U.S. solar energy farm installation in Tucson, Ariz., October 14. Big solar farms will take away the incentives for utilities to allow roof-top solar installation.

So, is it any wonder that this new solar farm dedication has been followed less than a month later by television ads directed at utility consumers? The ads show a woman who is asking why she should have to pay for her neighbors’ home-roof solar installations? It’s not fair, the woman, exclaims, “We should all have to pay for the grid.”

Solar consumers know that they already are paying for the grid. What non-solar consumers don’t know is that consumers with or without solar installations pay a monthly customer service charge —a charge that pays for the grid. Also, the utilities almost never buy back excess power generated by consumer systems at the same rate they charge consumers for power. The argument has always been that the lower price paid for buying excess power generated by installations from solar consumers is because utilities have to take into account the cost of operating the grid. Thus those with home solar installations are paying customer service charges, taxes and fees as well as subsidizing the grid by receiving a reduced rate for the power produced and sold back to utilities. An alternative question is: After paying to install their own power systems, why should solar customers pay more than their fair share to operate the grid?”

“These are our maiden solar facilities in the United States, and signal E.ON’s commitment to solar development in the U.S. market,” said Steve Trenholm, Chairman E.On North America.

According to Christophe Jurczak, CEO of E.ON’s Global Solar Business, in a dedication speech, “We expect that this will be the first in a long series of constructions” in the United States. Tucson Electric Power (TEP) has a 20-year power purchase agreement with E.ON.

The October dedication related to 15 megawatts of generation. A year from now, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) will have more than 228 megawatts of solar, capacity enough to power more than 45,000 homes a year.

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