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Solar Switch Forces Utilities to Shift Priorities

Oct 28, 2013
Source: 
(San Francisco Chronicle)

itting on a rooftop, soaking up sun, the humble solar panel may not look like a threat to a multibillion-dollar industry.

But some electric utility executives say it is. They even have a name for the nightmare scenario solar could create - the "death spiral."

They fear solar's rapid spread across homes and businesses, combined with the increasing efficiency of modern buildings and appliances, could slowly erode the utilities' ability to grow. California utilities get paid based on the value of the assets they own - the transmission lines, substations and wires. As more businesses and homeowners generate their own electricity, the utilities won't need to add as many of those assets as before.