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June 13, 2017


Bruce Dickinson

Well folks, as you know, Bruce Dickinson is involved in several emerging technology businesses as an investor, and lots of stuff comes across my desk. Yes, most of it goes to the shredder, as the bar is very high at Dickinson, Inc., but I do learn a few things along the way.

The dirty little secret is that the public utilities (such as PG&E or Edison or SEMPRA) are for-profit entities that have public shareholders. Until very recently, you go to any of their websites, and solar programs barely got any mention. It's somewhat better now due to legislation, but there is a big economic dis-incentive for the utilities to have their customers go to solar. First, customers can generate their own power which of course eats into the utilities' profits, so these companies, quite passive-aggressively, through quiet, but persistent lobbying efforts, try to lower the price of selling excess generated solar power by customers "back into the grid". In a few years, the amount that customers receive from selling back this excess power may be far lower than it is currently (which is already fractions of what the utilities charge customers for utility-provided power, despite the fact that it remains the cheapest power source even with embedded profits to shareholders).

The solar economics for consumers erode very quickly when you are paid fractions of selling power back into the grid than they would otherwise pay for buying it directly from the utilities. Of course, battery technology (such as TESLA home battery connected to solar panels) will get cheaper so that you can store your own solar power, thereby completely avoiding the utilities in electricity and we would only buy natural gas. However, the cost of this technology today will take many many years to break-even.

So in principle, yes, it would be great if we could use alternatives (and solar farms are a great way for the utilities to delivery alternative power) but it will come at an economic cost in the short and medium term, as the Germany example shows. Then you start getting into social issues whereby rising power costs due to alternatives become more of a regressive tax on lower income families.

Maybe it's worth it to save the planet, but increasingly social cost considerations will become the zeitgeist in the years to come. You are already seeing the political tensions today with the rise of automation and labor displacement. Maybe Bernie Sanders is right after all, there will have to be more social costs bourn by the government and wealthier echelons of the populace.

Just a few things to get your noggin' gears turnin'!


Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
However, your word and conclusion has been stated in 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000,2010,and now, 2017.
Nothing is going to change until a World Wide Event that forces all to consider their day to day life.
Thank you for bringing this subject up again.
Lets check back in again in 2020.

political parroting of party lines?

"Solar and wind combined provide less than 2% of the world's energy..." explains Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress.


While I'm glad that Beach and Colson prevailed in the last election, I wish all of the Dems would admit that many topics are highly debatable, instead of them just being parrots of party lines.

Are they quoting a Euro Cent for the average residential cost per KWH in the US? Here is the actual data from around the US: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_5_6_a

The SFPUC and Millbrae are considering using a large open space area for a community solar farm. Would this just be for SFPUC subscribers?

Many public schools and cities have installed solar arrays on their roofs and parking lots. Is this a fair use of taxpayer money or just a political parroting of party lines?


There's another power outage in North San Mateo tonight. Reliability beats greenish power every time.

New Braunfels Personal Injury Lawyers

Reducing carbon pollution by deploying renewable energy will keep electricity affordable and reliable, create jobs, and support local economic development. Renewable energy technologies have become integral and reliable parts of the U.S. electricity supply. Meeting the Clean Power Plan is very doable, and the U.S.-made renewable energy industries are ready to do so affordably.


Our local electric utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, provides extremely reliable electric supply. They keep your lights on, and the beer cold, 99.9% of the time. According to PG&E, in 2016 the average customer experienced one outage during the year with an average duration of 109 minutes. We thank the line workers and others at PG&E for delivering safe and reliable power throughout San Mateo County.

The reliability of your electric service does not change as a Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) customer. Peninsula Clean Energy customers continue to pay, and PG&E continues to provide, transmission and distribution service for all customers connected to PG&E’s grid. If you are a PCE customer and you experience a power outage, then you call PG&E – because you are paying them for that service. The reliability remains the same because you continue to pay PG&E to deliver electricity to your home or business. Nothing changes on that front.

What does change as a PCE customer is the source of your electric power. PCE’s power supply is lower cost, and has more renewable energy and less greenhouse gas emissions than PG&E’s supply. Some customers wonder whether the mix of power that PCE buys is as reliable as PG&E’s own power supplies. It is. And that reliability is mandated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Independent System Operator. PCE’s energy supply has to meet the same reliability standards as PG&E by procuring its share of what’s known as “resource adequacy.” The rules require that PCE, like PG&E, purchase electric generating capacity commitments of no less than 115% of peak load. And to clear the record, PCE can’t buy all of its power from solar plants, because our customers like to keep their homes lit and their beer cold at night, when the sun isn’t shining. So PCE procures from a broad portfolio of power resources, to ensure that power is delivered when our customers use it.

The laws of physics are such that electricity is fed onto the statewide shared electric grid from hundreds of power plants, and then moves down the path of least resistance to customers. Peninsula Clean Energy makes a difference by purchasing cleaner power for our customers, by contracting with new solar and wind projects that serve our customers, and by accelerating demand in the market for cleaner power. The power plants that PCE contracts with are sited around the state and the region, just like PG&E’s power supply. The power grid is a patchwork quilt of buyers and sellers, and all are required to maintain reliability of the system. What this means is that whether your neighbor is a PCE customer or not, both you and they will get the same reliable service.

Peninsula Clean Energy’s procurement strategy, and its partnership with PG&E to deliver that power, provides San Mateo County consumers with the same reliable electric service, but at lower rates and less pollution.

Old Guy

Is the personal injury lawyer better at filing lawsuits than he is at costing out electricity? I sure hope so cuz he stinks at the latter.

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