Electric Utility Monopolies

X-post at NPI:

The CEO of the biggest power company in the US had a problem.


The Captain


See also X-post at NPI

Enphase 2Q Earnings


The Captain


“It’s going to take time and hard work to break the monopoly power that electric utilities have enjoyed for decades just like AT&T enjoyed in telephony until Judge Green broke up MaBell in 1985.”

That monopoly was broken into 7 or 8 pieces - the Baby Bells, spun off Western Electric/Bell Labs. Later the Baby Bells spun of the white pages business and other things.

The Baby Bells retained the monopoly on local service. You could only get your local phone from one of the.

Judge Green basically de-monopolized the ‘long distance business’.

A good part of that was state regulators, who demanded that ‘businesses’ subsidize local service so folks could have ‘cheap basic service’ and business would be gouged 50-100% on long distance calls to pay for it. All that changed when alternative local providers like MCI could now provide LD service.

Well,it turns out that the cellular revolution, then the internet revolution, entirely changed the market. With Skype, you could call just about anywhere for pennies a minute. Cellular plans over five years included long distance as part of the basic per month charge.

The long distance market slowly evaporated except for business and that was cutthroat and the Baby Bells could also provide. Cable /fiber to the home by Comcast and others included basic/long distance service cheaply.

Soon, MCI went BK along with most other LD providers. Cellular became the giant in the room long with ‘internet providers’ who would also supply local phone service, but more and more just had cellular phones and often no home phones.

Now, you can as a homeowner put up solar panels and provide some/all of your electricity - but with interconnect to the power company. Obviously the sun doesn’t shine at night, and sometimes for days when it rains day after day after day. Batteries to withstand days of no sun are far off the the future to be totally independent. Winter sun is often inadequate to meet a home’s need.

So this particular issue is landlords wanting to provide power to multiple tenants… but of course, the local power company will be called on to provide the rest of the power those folks need. If they have separate meters that gets to be a problem.

You now need a new interconnect point, some way of ‘sharing power’ when the solar panels are inadequate (some from solar, some from the grid) in real time on a large scale. Don’t think such and animal exists yet. You also then become a ‘power producer’ for multiple customers and maybe face legal requirements and registration and annual reports - also filing ‘rates’ for electricity per KWH, etc.



Unless the state does what some other states did: allow utility companies to charge solar panel owners a connection fee. Solar panels don’t work 24/7, so the house/building needs a backup. That is their vulnerability, and the utility company’s profit, providing access to backup power.


Solar panels and a battery work 24/7. I will decide after the summer if I am going to pull the plug on the electric company.


E:“Solar panels and a battery work 24/7. I will decide after the summer if I am going to pull the plug on the electric company.”

I’d wait till winter…when you have days of clouds, fewer by far hours of sun… and does your battery really last from say, 3:30 on winter days till 10am the next day? And if you recycle the battery every day, just how many life cycles you expect?

“While the 10-kilowatt-hour option has been removed, the Powerwall website continues to offer specifications for Tesla’s 6.4-kilowatt-hour battery designed for daily cycling applications, such as load shifting. The battery is warrantied for 10 years, or roughly 5,000 cycles”


“At first, it cost $3,000 for 6.4 kWh. Later on, Tesla Powerwall 2 was introduced. It came with two price tags; $6,500 and later on, $7,500 for 13.5 kWh of storage capacity. The latest model, Tesla Powerwall+, comes with 13.5 kWh of storage capacity and at an initial price tag of $8,500.”

So…for the average homeowner, how long would it take for electric bills to total $8,500? not counting the cost of interest on that 8500 bucks either (or lost dividends from leaving it invested)…


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In the US, some states won’t allow that.

I don’t use as much power in the wintertime. Two wood stoves. Also it is sunnier in the wintertime (less daylight but more sun). Right now in the monsoon season. Clouds for a lot of the day. Battery seems to be charging at 100% before nightfall. The system went in in February. In any case they tell me my Model Y will run the house. Yes and you need to figure no gasoline bill in your computations as well as the fact that if we don’t go this route it won’t matter much.

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Also it is sunnier in the wintertime (less daylight but more sun).

That varies a lot, depending on location. Michigan is notorious for overcast, especially in the winter, days on end of overcast so heavy you get the urge to turn on your headlights at noon. One extreme example, when I lived in Grand Rapids, was September/October of 85 or 86. At the end of October, the weather guy summed up the preceding six weeks “2% of the possible sunshine, and measurable rain every day”.


they have battery packs that can be charged by a gas generator

I don’t use as much power in the wintertime. Two wood stoves.

Reminds me of a next-door neighbor we had when I was a kid.

The cheapskate dad would send his kids around the neighborhood with a Radio Flyer Red Wagon to pick up scrap wood for the fireplace he used to heat his house.

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