Discussion Assignment



After completing your Discussion Assignment, don't forget to take the Module 6 Quiz. If you didn't answer the Learning Checkpoint questions, take a few minutes to complete them now. They will help your study for the quiz and you may even see a few of those question on the quiz!

Discussion Question


Evaluate who you think is responsible for maintaining infrastructure (power lines, meters, emergency repairs) when people generate their own renewable energy at home. Is it fair for those who can't afford new technology to shoulder the burden? Does charging a fee discourage people who could be installing solar and wind technology at home from doing so?


  • Find reliable sources of information on the internet
  • Communicate scientific ideas in language non-scientists can understand


Arizona's New Fee Puts a Dent in Rooftop Solar Economics

Salt River Project: Changes to Solar Pricing for New Rooftop Solar Customers

SolarCity Lawsuit Alleges Arizona Utility's Fee Hurts Solar


Perhaps you’ve heard a story about a person or family who installed solar panels or a wind turbine at their home, and during certain times of day when conditions are right, they can sit and watch their power meter run backward, feeding power back onto the grid. Sounds like a win-win situation, right? Those people are lowering their own dependence on fossil-fuel derived energy, and even supplying power derived from renewable resources to the big power companies to redistribute to other customers. So what’s the catch?

The problem is, as more customers in certain markets (for example, sunny desert areas like New Mexico and Arizona) install home solar and reduce their bills to almost nothing, the power companies are pulling in less profit. Which may not seem like a big deal – times change, new markets emerge and old ones die out. Newspapers have felt the pinch, and the postal service, and cable television. Companies have to keep up or make way. Except solar and wind can’t provide power 100% of the time. People who power their homes with these renewable resources still rely on the grid to provide power at night, or on cloudy or windless days. Maybe they give as much power back to the grid as they take from it over the course of a month, keeping the meter near zero. Now who is paying for the maintenance of the power lines that shuttle that power to and from these homes?

The power companies are paying, of course. But in a more pessimistic (or realistic) sense, the customers who can’t afford solar or wind technology will be the ones who will pay in the long run as power companies raise their prices to cover the loss of revenue. So in a sense, poorer people will be forced to subsidize the power grid while the wealthy sit back and smugly watch their meters run backwards.

Power companies in several states, including Arizona and Oklahoma, are beginning to charge fees of as much as $50-100 per month for customers who create their own solar or wind energy. This is a drastic turnaround from government tax breaks designed to encourage people to install their own renewable power technology. Proponents of renewable energy argue that such high fees will only serve to discourage more people from installing solar panels and wind turbines at home, proliferating our dependence on fossil fuels.

What do you think? Should the power company charge individuals a monthly fee to generate their own power? Who will determine what a reasonable charge would be?


Summarize your thoughts on home power generation and responsibility for maintaining infrastructure in a 200-250 word discussion post. Give specific examples of why you think individuals should or should not be responsible for maintaining utilities. Your original post must be submitted by Wednesday. In addition, you are required to comment on one of your peers' posts by Sunday. You can comment on as many posts as you like, but please try to make your first comment to a post that does not have any other comments yet.  Once you have an idea of what you want your post to be, go to the course discussion for your campus and create a new post.

Scoring Information and Rubric

The discussion post is worth a total of 20 points. The comment is worth an additional 5 points.

Scoring Rubric
Description Possible Points
well-reasoned analysis in your own original post (200-250 words) 20
well-reasoned comment on someone else's post (75-100 words) 5