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每日跟讀#558: Tug of War in Fine Print of Your Electric Bill

美國某些州 家戶太陽能板難回本

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每日跟讀#558: Tug of War in Fine Print of Your Electric Bill

It was only two years ago that Elroy Holtmann spent about $20,000 on a home solar array to help cover the costs of charging his new electric car. With the savings on his monthly electric bills, he figured the investment would pay for itself in about a dozen years.

But then the utilities regulators changed the equation.

不過才兩年前,霍特曼花了2萬美元安裝家戶太陽能發電系統,以省下錢來支應新購電動車的充電費。他盤算著每月節省的電費,估計這筆投資約能在12年內回本。

但後來公用事業管理單位改變了這個等式。

As a result, Pacific Gas & Electric recently did away with the rate schedule chosen by Holtmann, a retired electrical engineer, and many other solar customers in this part of California. The new schedule will make them pay much more for the electricity they draw from the grid in the evening, while paying those customers less for the excess power their solar panels send back to the grid on sunny summer days.

As a result, Holtmann’s solar setup may never pay for itself.

於是,太平洋煤電公司最近廢除霍特曼與加州這區域其他許多安裝太陽能板客戶選擇的費率表。霍特曼是退休電力工程師。新費率表會讓他們夜間從電網取用電力時要付的電費貴得多,至於他們的太陽能板在晴朗夏天送回電網的多餘電力,公司付給他們的收購費則會變少。

這麼一來,霍特曼的太陽能系統可能永遠無法回本。

“They’ve taken any possibility for payback away,” he said with resignation, looking up at the roof of his 1970s ranch-style house in this suburb a short drive east of Berkeley.

The paradox is playing out around the country. Even as policymakers at the federal and state levels promote clean energy to fight global warming, the economics of electricity can often be at odds with those goals.

霍特曼望著1970年代牧場風格的自家屋頂,無奈地說:「他們把回本的可能性完全拿走了。」他的家在柏克萊東郊,開車一下子就到了。

這種矛盾的情況在美國各地愈來愈多。聯邦與州決策者推廣潔淨能源以阻止全球暖化,電力的經濟因素卻常與這些目標牴觸。

Thrust in the middle are utility regulators. Even if they support greening the grid through technology adopters like Holtmann, the regulators are also responsible for ensuring that the utilities can afford to supply power to the largest number of customers at the most equitable rates. That includes people without the money or inclination to install solar collectors.

“The grid is no longer just a cheap way to get electrical commodities to people,” said Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. “People want choices, they want customized services,” he said. “And how do you make that fair to everybody, because not everybody is moving as adopters at the same pace?”

公用事業主管單位左右為難。雖然他們支持透過像霍特曼這樣勇於採用新科技的人來推廣綠色電力,但他們也有責任確保電廠能夠以最合理的費率對最大多數客戶供電,包括沒有財力或意願安裝太陽能板的人。

加州公用事業委員會主席皮克說:「電網不再只是為人們提供廉價電力商品的方式。人們想要有選擇,想要客製化服務。並不是每個人採用新科技的步調都一致,你要怎麼讓電費費率對每個人都公平?」

Similar dynamics are playing out in some parts of Europe, including Spain and Britain, as public officials push for green energy to justify its costs.

For more than a century in the United States, the public utility rate system assumed a one-way flow of electricity from central power plants to their customers. The role of utility regulators was to adjudicate reasonable rates for the consumer, while allowing an adequate rate of return on the money power companies spent generating and distributing the electricity.

類似的現象也在歐洲部分地區發生,包括西班牙與英國,官方要求綠色能源恢復合理價格。

100多年來,美國公用事業費率制度假定電力是從中央電廠單向輸送給客戶。電廠管理單位的角色是負責確保客戶有合理的費率,並允許電力公司花錢發電和配電後,有適當的投資報酬率。

Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/302311/web/

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