Micro maverick Bill Althouse sees a grand conspiracy to blot out customer-owned generation.
Distributed generation is out of the box. It's time for regulators to wake up. The paradigm has already shifted."
That's Bill Althouse talking, president of Althouse Inc. of Albuquerque, N.M., a seat-of-the pants business (he says he's near bankruptcy) that helps homeowners and businesses install on-site generation. I met him via email as I researched why, on Jan. 12, in its first official act, the newly elected New Mexico Public Regulation Commission had suspended a rule approved only six weeks earlier by the now defunct Public Utility Commission that had allowed net metering for customer-owned renewable energy and distributed generation.
Althouse, a missionary for distributed generation designed to capture waste heat (CHP, or "combined heat and power"), takes his role seriously.
"I was once the head of Arco Solar's largest distributor," he told me. "We pioneered large heavy batteries in the heyday of tax credits. But I got my heart broke when I found out we could sell all the power in the world and it would never begin to cover our costs.
"But this [DG] is market-driven. You get greenhouse savings by capturing the waste heat. Think about district heating. That's eco-industrial symbiosis. In Denmark, there's a place where they get 97 percent efficiency for the entire city. Sometimes they use the heat two or three times. But our Four Corners plant would be lucky to get 20 percent efficiency, with five times the NOx and SOx."