Elon Musk Might Have Just Really Pissed Off Your Utility Company

VICE|  Tesla CEO Elon Musk appears to have made a significant advance toward a goal that even he admitted “sounds crazy” — “to change the entire energy infrastructure of the world to zero carbon.”

Musk unveiled on Thursday a new type of battery — not for use in his company’s popular line of luxury electric vehicles, but for homes and business.

Measuring in at 3 feet across, 4 feet tall, and 7 inches deep, the batteries draw energy from rooftop solar panels, helping to power homes and businesses at night, reducing daytime demand on the electric grid during peak hours, and providing energy security during power outages.

Brian Keane, President of SmartPower, a nonprofit-marketing firm that specializes in green energy, said this is a long and eagerly awaited moment for clean power.

“This is a game-changer in energy battery storage, which has really been kind of a holy grail for energy,” Keane told VICE News. “Now it seems we’ve actually found the Holy Grail. What I think we’re going to start seeing now is the real transformation in energy we’ve been talking about for the past decade, maybe even two decades.”

Across the country, consumers who install rooftop solar arrays have increasingly clashed with utility companies over net-metering policies. Net metering allows a customer who generates energy from solar panels to run their meters backward — essentially feeding power into the electrical grid and lowering their utility bill — when they are producing more energy than they are consuming.

Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have such policies, but in recent years utilities have pushed back against net metering in California, Arizona, and Colorado, seeking to limit consumers’ ability to ween themselves from utility-generated power.

The Tesla home batteries cost $3,500 for a 10-kilowatt hour (kWh) model; a smaller 7 kWh version is priced at $3,000. For perspective: A kilowatt-hour of electricity can charge your cell phone 278 times or power your laptop for 20 hours.

Musk also announced the launch of a larger battery, called the PowerPack, with a storage capacity of 100 kWh, but is “infinitely scaleable,” according to the company.

According to attorney Katie Ottenweller, who leads the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Solar Initiative, it’s unclear how utilities will react as battery technology matures and cuts into their traditional customer base.

“Battery storage has the great potential to actually increase the value of a resource like solar. If utilities are smart they’ll figure out a way to capture that value so that it benefits all of their customers, and benefits the grid as a whole,” Ottenweller told VICE News. “But there’s also this double-edged sword where if utilities continue to pick fights with their solar customers, it makes it easy, once battery storage is available, for them to defect from the grid altogether.”

Randy Wheeless, a spokesperson for the largest power company in the country, North Carolina-based Duke Energy, said the company has already worked with battery storage technology, and that any battery-enabled solar revolution would likely include utilities.

“Between the money for solar and a battery backup, that’s pretty expensive. Some people will like the freedom and have the money to make that happen, but I don’t think you’re going to see mass defections from the utility,” Wheeless told VICE News. “Where we are, the price of electricity is pretty reasonable, so that does cut into the economics of making that work.”

And, Wheeless added, if the technology proves to be reliable, and costs diminish, utilities might get into the game.

“I don’t think you’ll see masses [defect] until the price gets really reasonable,” he said, “And then, if it’s that reasonable, I think utilities will be a part of that marketplace as well.”

Nonetheless, Ottenweller said Tesla’s announcement should be a “wakeup call” for utility companies.

“Here in the Southeast a lot of utilities are looking at imposing charges and fees on their customers who want to go solar. The more options customers have, the less they’re going to be willing to tolerate that kind of treatment,” Ottenweller told VICE News. “I’m hopeful this will be a step in the right direction for utilities to really understand the coming reality and take a hard look in the mirror at their business model.”

In Hawaii, twelve percent of homes have some form of solar power — easily the highest proportion in the United States — and all of that energy being fed into the grid is overloading capacity. By letting individual customers store some of their excess energy, Tesla’s batteries might provide a solution for utilities, rather than cause anxiety.

“Utilities are at an interesting point where, if they can figure out a way to align their interests with what their customers really want, battery storage could resolve a lot of these conflicts,” Ottenweller said. “But it’s sort of up to them to decide.”

Keane said Tesla’s breakthrough could be among the most significant, recent technological innovations.

“Just think of where we’re going to be in five years. Think of your first cellphone and think of the one you have now. In a very short amount of time they’re basically almost two different devices,” Keane told VICE News. “It looks like Tesla’s cracked the code on battery storage. It’s an incredible success story and, quite frankly, we’re at the very beginning of it.”

HERE IS A LIST OF EVERY SINGLE TIME OBAMA COMMITTED AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE THAT DEMS & MEDIA COVERED UP “Impeach!” It’s been more than eight years since Democrats uttered that word – long enough for anyone to wonder if it was still in their vocabulary, considering the deafening silence through the dozens of serious scandals during President Obama’s administration – but now that President Trump is the man in the White House, it’s back with a vengeance. Democrats everywhere are wildly slinging the “I” word, hoping to nail Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors after the New York Times claimed a memo written by former FBI Director James Comey said the president urged him to end the federal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Some members of Congress are getting in on the action. They include Reps. Maxine Water, D-Calif., and Al Green, D-Texas. Even a Republican, Rep. Justin Amash, claimed Wednesday there are grounds to impeach President Trump. House Oversign Committee Chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, asked for the alleged Comey memo and other documents. Chaffetz tweeted that he is prepared to subpoena the information. And Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., invoked “Watergate.” Now the Democratic Party is reportedly poll testing impeachment as a 2018 election issue. More than 1 million people signed a petition calling on Congress to impeach Trump. Wasting no time Wednesday, the mainstream media sprang into action, enthusiastically echoing the left’s impeachment calls. MSNBC launched a Watergate ad implying Trump is America’s new Richard Nixon. “Watergate. We know its name because there were reporters who never stopped asking questions,” says MSNBC host Chris Hayes, who hinted that Trump is next on the impeachment chopping block. “Now, who knows where the questions will take us. But I know this: I’m not going to stop asking them.” Meanwhile, some overzealous members of the left plastered fliers around Washington, D.C., demanding all White House staffers resign Wednesday. The posters read: “If you work for this White House you are complicit in hate-mongering, lies, corrupt taking of Americans’ tax money via self-dealing and emoluments, and quite possibly federal crimes and treason. Also, any wars will be on your soul. … Resign now.” But constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, who voted for President Obama, warned “impeachment” enthusiasts not to get ahead of themselves with President Trump. Why? At this time, there’s no evidence Trump actually committed a crime. “The criminal code demands more than what Comey reportedly describes in his memo,” Turley wrote in a May 17 opinion piece posted at the Hill. Turley explained: For the first time, the Comey memo pushes the litany of controversies surrounding Trump into the scope of the United States criminal code. However, if this is food for obstruction of justice, it is still an awfully thin soup. Some commentators seem to be alleging criminal conduct in office or calling for impeachment before Trump completed the words of his inaugural oath of office. Not surprising, within minutes of the New York Times report, the response was a chorus of breathless “gotcha” announcements. But this memo is neither the Pentagon Papers nor the Watergate tapes. Indeed, it raises as many questions for Comey as it does Trump in terms of the alleged underlying conduct. A good place to start would be with the federal law, specifically 18 U.S.C. 1503. The criminal code demands more than what Comey reportedly describes in his memo. There are dozens of different variations of obstruction charges ranging from threatening witnesses to influencing jurors. None would fit this case. That leaves the omnibus provision on attempts to interfere with the “due administration of justice.” However, that still leaves the need to show that the effort was to influence “corruptly” when Trump could say that he did little but express concern for a longtime associate. The term “corruptly” is actually defined differently under the various obstruction provisions, but it often involves a showing that someone acted “with the intent to secure an unlawful benefit for oneself or another.” Encouraging leniency or advocating for an associate is improper but not necessarily seeking an unlawful benefit for him. . Obama’s Iran nuke deal Obama knew about Hillary’s private email server Obama IRS targets conservatives Obama’s DOJ spies on AP reporters Obamacare & Obama’s false promises Illegal-alien amnesty by executive order Benghazi-gate Operation Fast & Furious 5 Taliban leaders for Bergdahl Extortion 17 ‘Recess ‘ appointments – when Senate was in session Appointment of ‘czars’ without Senate approval Suing Arizona for enforcing federal law Refusal to defend Defense of Marriage Act Illegally conducting war against Libya NSA: Spying on Americans Muslim Brotherhood ties Miriam Carey Birth certificate Executive orders Solyndra and the lost $535 million Egypt Cap & Trade: When in doubt, bypass Congress Refusal to prosecute New Black Panthers Obama’s U.S. citizen ‘hit list’