SHCC WYSIWYG Article from February 2023

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This article was written by Don VanSyckel, the club president, as a part of "The President's Pen".  This article appeared in the February 2023 WYSIWYG newsletter.

DTE Electric Rates

by Don VanSyckel

March, it's when DTE changes electric rates. DTE has gotten the approval to put time of day rates into place. This rate increase was part of the plan when DTE forced us to switch to the remote electronic meters a couple years ago. So now DTE can charge various prices for a kilowatt hour (KWH) of electricity. A KWH of electricity is the amount of electricity used by something that is 1000 watts in use for one hour. For example, 10 incandescent 100 watt light bulbs on for one hour or one 100 watt bulb on for 10 hours.

The time of day plan is starting with a rate of 15.45 cents per KWH for 7 PM - 3 PM (20 hours per day) all year. Then October - May, 3 PM - 7 PM is 16.75 cents per KWH and June - September, 3 PM - 7 PM is 20.98 cents per KWH. This means that the afternoon and early evening will be a 8.4% premium and a 35.8% premium. The electricity during 3 PM - 7 PM actually costs the same as electricity the rest of the day but DTE's lack of planning and proper investments has cause them to fall behind their customers' demands so they are using premium pricing to modify the behavior of their customers. DTE is no longer a public service they are a master of the public.

DTE leadership has lead them down the path of carbon free before they and the technology are actually ready and now we are to pay the price. DTE has been shifting from coal and gas fired generating plants to wind and solar. I'm a fan of putting environmentally sound technologies into use, but unfortunately the current technology for wind and solar is very expensive both monetarily and environmentally. For example in California where there have been large solar farms for 20 years, the solar panels are end of life. In other words the panels no longer produce enough electricity to make them worth having in service. The problem is the utility doesn't know what to do with the old panels. There are toxic chemicals in them so they can't be put in a land fill. We need and don't have a good way to recycle the solar panel waste or at least remove the toxic parts so the rest can go in a land fill. This issue will occur with any solar panels currently made, it's just a matter of how long the service life is.

Wind turbines come with a carbon debt. This debt takes into account all the energy that goes into producing the materials and shipping for each turbine. I don't have the statistics for this but I understand it's many months to break even. Then there's the blades. The blades have to be made with a certain amount of flex in them. After a certain calculated number of hours of operation a blade must be replaced. It's quite a process to truck in a 90 foot long blade, take down the old blade, hoist the new blade into place, and truck out the old blade. Then what do you do with it? I have been told that it's possible to cut the blades into pieces of manageable length At least, it's my understanding, that the blades are not toxic.

We need to move to new technology in a smart organized approach, not the frantic headlong plunge that some companies are attempting to do.

End of Article

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