Renewable energy reduces the highest electric rates in the nation

March 14, 2019 by Kelley Christensen, Michigan Technological University

Coal is the primary fuel source for Midwest electric utilities. Michigan Technological University researchers found that increasing renewable and distributed generation energy sources can save Michigan electric consumers money.

As and access to distributed generation like residential solar panels improve, consumer costs for electricity decrease. Making electricity for yourself with solar has become more affordable than traditional electricity fuel sources like coal.

However, as three Michigan Tech researchers contend in a new study, while utility fuel mixes are slowly shifting away from fossil fuels toward , Michigan utilities, and U.S. utilities broadly, continue a relationship with fossil fuels that is detrimental to their customers.

The paper, "Policies to Overcome Barriers for Renewable Energy Distributed Generation: A Case Study of Utility Structure and Regulatory Regimes in Michigan," was published in the policy special issue of the journal Energies.

"Michigan utilities are beginning to recognize the benefits of solar (and other renewables)," said Emily Prehoda, lead author of the paper and doctoral candidate in environmental and energy policy at Michigan Tech. "Some utilities are even shifting their portfolios to include large-scale solar and wind generation. However, utilities fear competition from, and actively hinder proliferation of, distributed generation systems by clinging to the traditional utility model."

In the paper, Prehoda and co-authors Joshua M. Pearce, Richard Witte Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Chelsea Schelly, associate professor of sociology, note that in the U.S., "70 percent of coal plants run at a higher cost than new and by 2030 all of them will."

The researchers provide a breakdown of savings per kilowatt hour by county that Michigan residents could achieve if they produce their own electricity with solar photovoltaic panels.

The most significant impacts of distributed generation with solar are in the Upper Peninsula, where residential customers could see savings of approximately 7 cents per . Assuming the average residential consumer uses 600 kilowatt hours of electricity monthly, this is a savings of $42 per utility bill. Downstate, the average savings per utility bill under the researchers' model is approximately $30 monthly.

However, not all Michigan consumers can take advantage of the opportunity to self-generate, as some utilities are blocking additional net-metered distributed generation in their areas.

"Refusing to allow Michigan customers to have the opportunity to install cheaper and reliable electricity sources deprives the electrical grid of many benefits," Prehoda said. One such benefit is creating a more decentralized electric grid less vulnerable to attack.

According to the Michigan Public Service Commission's (MPSC) 2017 annual report (the most recent available), Michigan's use of coal as its primary electricity fuel source has decreased (from 73.18 percent in 2009 to 37.41 percent in 2016), and that void has been filled mainly by natural gas, energy waste reduction and renewable energy (which increased from 4 percent in 2009 to 9.67 percent in 2016). In Michigan, 84 percent of residents receive electricity from for-profit corporations like UPPCO and Consumers Energy.

In early 2019, Consumers Energy, which provides electricity to many Lower Peninsula communities, was approved for a rate increase that equates to a $1.62 increase per month for customers.

In late 2018, UPPCO requested a $10 million annual rate increase, which equates to a $6.50 per month increase for a residential customer consuming approximately 500 kilowatt hours of energy monthly; in February 2019, Michigan's Attorney General Dana Nessel filed in opposition to the increase with the MPSC and has suggested to the MPSC, a rate increase of no more than $3.5 million.

While in the past MPSC has lowered the amount of requested rate increases, the commission has not denied a rate increase.

Yet, as this study demonstrates, if utilities allow customers to generate their own power in addition to the power they consume from the grid, residential customers would see a substantial decrease in their electric rate by making their own solar .

Explore further: Walz sets goal: 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050

More information: Emily Prehoda et al. Policies to Overcome Barriers for Renewable Energy Distributed Generation: A Case Study of Utility Structure and Regulatory Regimes in Michigan, Energies (2019). DOI: 10.3390/en12040674

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2.3 / 5 (6) Mar 14, 2019
"...As renewable energy technologies and access to distributed generation like residential solar panels improve, consumer costs for electricity decrease..."
It's exactly the contrary: as the share of intermittent renewables on the grid increases, the consumer costs for electricity also increases.

"This is why studies show that in California when solar penetration reaches 30%, a solar kWh will lose two-thirds of its value"

"Why cheap electricity doesn't necessarily result in lower bills" - Feb 2019
"The main reason is subsidies for wind and solar construction."
"If Solar And Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive?"

1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 14, 2019
Lower demand = higher cost.

Everybodies who knowed ekonumix knowed dats.

2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 14, 2019
The truth from the AGW Cult.
3 / 5 (6) Mar 14, 2019
It's exactly the contrary
More lies from Willie Ward. Oklahoma gets 1/3 of its power from the wind - and has some of the lowest electricity rates in the world.

Sad that you have to keep promoting untruths. And the costs keep coming down for wind and solar - but Willie will never talk about the cost of nukes. Sad...
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 14, 2019
What a misleading headline. Are they trying to say that Michigan has the highest rates in the nation?

How trustworthy can the rest of the figures be?
2.1 / 5 (7) Mar 15, 2019
Oklahoma is mostly powered by cheap coal & fracked gas "greenwashed" by intermittent renewables. If Oklahoma has some of the lowest electricity rates, it's thanks to cheap natural gas. Intermittent renewables are just 'decorative facades' to keep the expansion of the gas(fracking) industry.
"Oklahoma is one of the top natural gas-producing..."

You green sociopaths(maniac compulsive pathological liars) are unable to cite a small region(>10,000 inhabitants, off-the-grid) powered at least 1/3 by solar & wind parasitizing Hydro instead of coal/oil/gas/fracking to compensate intermittencies, and having affordable electricity prices without any external big money support with vested interests.

Oklahoma: "9.92 cents/kWh"
"Nuclear power plant in WA generates more production records at 3¢/kWhr" - Oct 2018
3 / 5 (4) Mar 15, 2019
Oklahoma is mostly powered by cheap coal & fracked gas
But that is changing. And it is irrelevant to proving your constant lie - when you assert that electricity prices increase when renewables enter the grid. That is a lie - and proven to be a lie - by Oklahoma's high penetration of renewables - and low electricity cost. Simply logic - you repeatedly fail to understand - which is called dunning kruger.
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 16, 2019
Interesting article on a renewable energy standard for Minnesota.
"Exposing the Real Costs of "Green" Energy" - Mar 12, 2019
"Unfortunately, wind power ... many people recognize are turbine blade noise and vibration, visual impacts, migratory bird losses, economics, and the impact on civilian and military radar."
"...wind power's classification as renewable is a misnomer, both erroneous and misleading, and a dangerous precedent. Equally disturbing is the widespread and intentional disregard of the consequences of wind power on climate change"

"The more you know about renewables, the less you like them. The more you know about nuclear, the more you like it. The only thing holding us back is ignorance, superstition and fear of the unknown."
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 16, 2019
The more you know about renewables, the less you like them
Which is why the German people overwhelmingly support the energy transition https://www.unend...xpansion

I could give you dozens of links to validate that information - but you don't care about information do you? So the facts I present are that only 15% of countries in the world have a nuke - where as 100% have renewables. Can you dispute the FACTS Willie? I thought not - so you just keep lying.
3 / 5 (4) Mar 16, 2019
Will doesn't care about any of the facts greenonions. It is nuclear or nothing with him. A couple articles ago in response to his constant leaning on the intermittency problem of solar and wind, I linked a video of currently emerging tech involving cheap gravity fed energy storage systems ( https://www.youtu...wdTGZxGk ), which can also be done with buoys under the sea. In response to this, he decided to link another article citing high co2 emissions of concrete manufacturing, the material the weights are made of, as if a weight has to be made of concrete and nothing else. This is hilarious when you think of the shear amount of concrete needed in the construction of a nuclear power plant facility. Lastly, the article he posted actually had a section which spoke of bio concrete made with bacteria and not co2 emitting kilning. Do you like to eat red herring much Willie?
3 / 5 (4) Mar 17, 2019
...Which is why the German people overwhelmingly support the energy transition...
Germany has spent hundreds of billions of euros on intermittent renewables, has ~100GW of installed-capacity enough to replace hard coal or lignite coal, but is ever more addicted to coal and Russian gas to prevent Germans from freezing in the dark.
"Wind Turbines Can Harm Heart, Says German Professor" - Nov 1,2018

In general, fossil fuels are highly TAXED.
In electricity production, they are slightly subsidized to prevent poor children from freezing in the dark.
Solar & wind are highly SUBSIDIZED even though they don't prevent children from freezing to death, mainly during the Winter.
3 / 5 (4) Mar 17, 2019
...This is hilarious when you think of the shear amount of concrete needed in the construction...
Wind and solar require much more concrete per installed-capacity, worse yet when the magically " cheap gravity fed energy storage systems" are included.
"The dilute nature of water, sunlight & wind means that ~5,000 times more land & 10 - 15 times more concrete, cement, steel & glass, are required than for nuclear"

"Solar and wind power require a huge amount of materials due to the infrastructure and the supporting functions required to account for the fluctuating nature of the production."
"If the goal is low emission energy production with as small an environmental footprint as possible, we should measure the amount of emissions and the environmental footprint instead of vague brands or trends."
3 / 5 (4) Mar 17, 2019
Totally agree Renfield. It is so interesting to see the ability of some people to push their own private agenda - in the face of so much real world information. Recently Shell announced their intent to become the biggest electricity supplier in the world - in 10 years - https://renewecon...n-70440/
Notice Shell is not talking about nukes - but rather renewables. They can do math. There is much work going on in the field of storage. It will all come down to cost. Interesting times - and good to point out the lies of people like Willie. They will go the way of the dinosaur - but slow down progress in the mean time.
3 / 5 (4) Mar 19, 2019
...Recently Shell announced their intent to become the biggest electricity supplier in the world - in 10 years...
More intermittencies = more fossil fossils.
"Read more about the symbiotic relationship of natural gas and oil and renewable energy in @washingtonpost:"
"American Petroleum Institute - the main lobby group for oil and gas industry - makes it abundantly clear that they partner with renewables. RE provides green cover; oil & gas provide most of power & take home most of revenue."

"In REAL life, 100% renewables = 80% natural gas & 20% renewables. No wonder natural gas is the fastest growing fuel worldwide."

Ban oil/gas/fracking, and solar/wind dies.
3.4 / 5 (5) Mar 19, 2019
It is so interesting to see the ability of some people to push their own private agenda

It's not even his private agenda. He's a paid FUDser
3 / 5 (2) Mar 19, 2019
More intermittencies = more fossil fossils
More lies from the paid FUDser. Lucky it is so easy to expose the lies. Facts demonstrated in this article - between 2009, and 2018 in UK - coal nukes, gas all down, wind and solar up.
3 / 5 (2) Mar 19, 2019
"More lies from the paid FUDser."

Oh dear, it look like peer review does not guarantee true science.

Read it and weep, 40,000 polar bears and climbing.


1 / 5 (1) 10 hours ago
...between 2009, and 2018 in UK - coal nukes, gas all down, wind and solar up...
Demand decreased because electricity prices increased thanks to penetration of intermittent renewables on the grid.
From your article:
"UK electricity demand has fallen significantly since 2005..."
Other factor than renewables accounted for 78% of emission reduction:
- 33% due to gas;
- 12% reduced stationary fuel consumption;
- 18% reduced electricity consumption;
- 15% vehicle efficiency.

More intermittencies = more fossil fossils
"Solar and Wind Lock-In Fossil Fuels -- And That Makes Saving the Climate Harder & More Expensive"
not rated yet 3 hours ago
""Solar and Wind Lock-In Fossil Fuels -- And That Makes Saving the Climate Harder & More Expensive""

Willie they lock in natural gas and exclude coal. This is very bad news because contrary to popular belief gas supplies are limited. If fracking turns out to be as unprofitable as some think we could have a serious nat gas shortage in just a few years.

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