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Old 06-18-2015, 10:21 AM   #161
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To be fair, if power companies are required to buy solar power from you, then when you need power from them, they should be allowed to charge you what it costs to maintain all that equipment sitting idle, waiting to fire up the moment you need it.

Again, Germany is now paying utility companies big bucks to maintain idle equipment. Yet, on good days, they have so much solar and wind power that it has no place to go.

People do not realize that solar and wind power cannot be stored and stockpiled like coal, oil, or uranium rods.
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Old 06-18-2015, 11:38 AM   #162
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People do not realize that solar and wind power cannot be stored and stockpiled like coal, oil, or uranium rods.
not yet. Tesla wants you to believe that its new battery is the answer. But I think an affordable solution is likely in the next decade.

The other side of the coin is that rooftop solar reduces the need for utilities to build new power plants, thus all customers money. Our power bill has fuel costs separated from base rate charges that all customers pay. I think that is likely the fairest way to pay for overhead.
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Old 06-18-2015, 11:44 AM   #163
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One way to 'store' energy is with something called 'pumped storage'. The utility I worked for built a 400mw (MegaWatt) hydro power plant that used off peak generation sources to pump water back uphill to a reservoir so that it could make power during peak demand times. We use wind generation at night, when there are less customers and the wind blows anyways, to provide the electricity to pump the water back up from the lower reservoir to the upper one, then make hydro-electric generation when we need the peak generation.
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Old 06-18-2015, 11:56 AM   #164
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Well, if you are connected to the grid, you are using that infrastructure. You still want power for your building if the sun goes down right? Gotta pay for that.

The payback on solar PV would be far longer than the life of the system if you were getting paid less than they pay for coal generated kWh. You get paid the retail rate now - where else can you take a product back to the supplier, and have them pay you retail instead of wholesale prices? It's already a screaming deal (not counting the externalities of burning coal, which should be counted).

Try taking the extra gallon of gas you have left over from the lawn mower at the end of the season - you think they will give you $5 for it? No way.



What, you were expecting Georgia legislators to be different from the rest of them?



-ERD50

Billing for an energy producer to tie in to the grid is much different than a retail electric customer. Paying for generation, transmission and distribution on the producer level is different than for the retail customer.

A roof top solar generator is not getting paid by the utility company at retail rates. It's only banked at retail rates. Over generation, more that the owner of the solar uses in a year, is bought from the utility at spot wholesale prices. Right now, that's around 2 or 3 cents a kWh. Far from the 16 cents for tier one. Even then, a very close look at the net metering regulations stipulate that the utility company is under no obligation to pay you for over generation, that they only need to keep track of the net use between you and them. It's in the fine print. I have a neighbor who over generates and has sued the utility for the failure to pay for his over generation. He's lost and now in a class action to see if they can do better. I don't give 'em much hope. Careful reading convinces me they do not have to give you a dime for over generation.

One thing to note; in California the state is selling carbon credits. It's a cap and trade deal where the amount of hydrocarbons, CO2, is fixed for the state on a yearly basis. High polluters can buy the credits low polluters have left at the end of the year. It's an auction. My credits are 'owned' by the electric company I use to tie into the grid. I don't get any benefit, they do.
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Old 06-18-2015, 03:14 PM   #165
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Billing for an energy producer to tie in to the grid is much different than a retail electric customer. Paying for generation, transmission and distribution on the producer level is different than for the retail customer.

A roof top solar generator is not getting paid by the utility company at retail rates. It's only banked at retail rates. Over generation, ...
All of this varies by state and utility company, so we can't generalize. I was assuming the residential case where you do not over-generate (that's a lot of panels for one home!), so the 'banking' in effect means you get paid retail rates for your production.

Maybe nokkieny needs to look into becoming an actual commercial producer - that must have different rules? It wouldn't make sense to limit a 'producer' to 120% of their usage - they're producers, not customers! Like a solar farm.


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Old 06-18-2015, 03:23 PM   #166
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This year is one of those years where I am searching for tax deductions, so I got the idea of a solar installation for my business. I have 12k square feet of metal roof that gets baked all day long. I live in georgia and for a variety of factors, I know it is not the best investment here. But, it is something I would enjoy.
After reading this thread, researching and watching a few youtube installations for the micro-inverter systems. I find an article about a new law that changes the maximum commercial output from 100kW to 125% of peak usage, and allows power companies to charge solar customers a fee just because they are connected to the grid What? The supposed upside of the bill is allowing customers to lease systems, which from what I have seen is just a bad idea, at least here where power is cheap. Georgia legislators are idiots! I was getting excited about this and now it basically makes no sense at all. 125% of my peak usage is probably 5kW.
I don't understand why power companies don't want to buy back solar, couldn't they just do it at slightly less then their cost to burn coal and call it a day?
You need to find out how your power company handles solar. In my area of FL we have net metering which works well for me. In some municipalities the power company purchases excess.
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Old 06-18-2015, 04:05 PM   #167
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You need to find out how your power company handles solar. In my area of FL we have net metering which works well for me. In some municipalities the power company purchases excess.
So from what I have read GA is a net metering state but there is no rules on how low buyback rates can be.

I started calling around today and my situation is not very fun. My power is billed and maintained by the city. It is a relatively small city, so just getting to someone who can give me information about permitting and net metering rates is going to be a struggle, currently I am waiting for a call back that I know I won't receive.

Assuming the buyback rates will be low if anything, I am starting to lean towards just covering my needs, getting my feet wet and going from there.
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Old 06-19-2015, 12:50 PM   #168
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I've always been interested in solar but don't plan to stay in my current house long enough to make it a worthwhile investment (IMHO). BUT now my DD is thinking about it and has asked for advice...

She lives in a TX city with generous rebates for solar (30% discount + another 30% of the remainder in Federal credits). Her proposed system of 4653 kWh/year has quoted total installation cost after rebates of $4452.

That amount of power will save $550/year. If I ignore inflation in power costs (to offset opportunity loss on the money) the break-even point is $4452/$550 = 8 years.

I'd go for it. Any opinions before I make that recommendation?

It's a single inverter system with a 15 year parts + labor warranty on all parts. As an aside I'm thinking of suggesting a sunnyboy 3000TL-US inverter (rather than the quoted sunnyboy 3000-US) so than she will have 1 "protected" socket that will operate during power outages when the sun is shining. I'm guessing it will add $200 to the install but will get a quote. Will this be valuable? Anyone have experience with these fully isolated circuits?
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Old 06-19-2015, 01:01 PM   #169
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I'd go for it. Any opinions before I make that recommendation?
What I have wondered are what are the likely annual maintenance costs? What is the life span before they become out of date?
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Old 06-19-2015, 01:14 PM   #170
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What I have wondered are what are the likely annual maintenance costs? What is the life span before they become out of date?
The system has an "all-in" 15-year local-installer warranty that covers all failures and repairs. The panels are quoted to be "Hanwha Q-Cells, Q.PRO BFR - G3 260" which appear to be a good choice with 12-year warranties from the manufacturer. Hanwha specifies at least 97% of nominal power during the 1st year with a max. 0.6% degradation per year; >92% of nominal power after 10*years; >83% of nominal power after 25*years (if they last that long!).

Provided all components last 8 years her costs should be fully recaptured. If they last 15 years or longer she will do very well. Even if the inverter fails and the installer declares bankruptcy, a new replacement is "only" $1500..
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Old 06-19-2015, 01:21 PM   #171
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Provided all components last 8 years her costs should be fully recaptured. If they last 15 years or longer she will do very well. Even if the inverter fails and the installer declares bankruptcy, a new replacement is "only" $1500..
Also consider the comments earlier in this thread about roof repairs. Residential roofs often don't last 25 years (and does this roof has a few years on it already?), how much do panels add to the cost of a roof replacement?

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Old 06-19-2015, 01:26 PM   #172
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As an aside I'm thinking of suggesting a sunnyboy 3000TL-US inverter (rather than the quoted sunnyboy 3000-US) so than she will have 1 "protected" socket that will operate during power outages when the sun is shining. I'm guessing it will add $200 to the install but will get a quote. Will this be valuable? Anyone have experience with these fully isolated circuits?
I have no experience with the product. The ability to plug in for power when the sun is shining during a widespread outage could be very handy. It might be enough to recharge cell phones, recharge cordless tools which might be handy after a hurricane, etc, keep the food in the fridge/freezer from going bad, run some fans or even a very small window AC unit during the heat of the day, run a sump pump to move water, etc. If the cost is really just $200, I'd think it would be well worth it in most places--if it comes in handy just once, it could easily pay for itself.
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Old 06-19-2015, 01:33 PM   #173
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Thanks for the reminder about roof replacement etc. I'll have to get DD to explore those costs. Her roof is ~10 years old so 10 -15 years left. My quick googling suggests remove and reinstall costs are in the $1000 range for a small array like she wants.
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Old 06-19-2015, 01:39 PM   #174
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For those interested the protected socket idea here's some blurb from the manufacturer:
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Sunny Boy 3000TL-US
SMA has recently unveiled its newest line of grid-tie inverters with a variety of new and improved features to help system owners get the most out of their systems. These new UL certified inverters continue to raise the benchmark in solar inverter technology. The Sunny Boy 3000TL-US comes standard with an impressive list of features.

Transformerless for higher efficiency and lighter weight
Dual maximum power point tracking for more design options
Reduce effects of partial system shading with OptiTrac™
Secure Power Supply (SPS) provides daytime power if grid goes down
Sunny Boy 3000TL-US comes with a Secure Power Supply that is able to send up to 1,500 watts of power to a dedicated outlet in the case of daytime grid failure.
So maybe 13.5 Amps @ 110V on the circuit max. Maybe enough for a small window AC, but would be touch and go. But that amount of power would be very useful for all the other suggestions by Samclem.
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Old 06-19-2015, 02:02 PM   #175
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So from what I have read GA is a net metering state but there is no rules on how low buyback rates can be.

I started calling around today and my situation is not very fun. My power is billed and maintained by the city. It is a relatively small city, so just getting to someone who can give me information about permitting and net metering rates is going to be a struggle, currently I am waiting for a call back that I know I won't receive.

Assuming the buyback rates will be low if anything, I am starting to lean towards just covering my needs, getting my feet wet and going from there.
when we produce more than we use it goes to a reserve that we draw from as we use more than we produce in the summer....no buyback
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Old 06-19-2015, 05:37 PM   #176
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not yet. Tesla wants you to believe that its new battery is the answer. But I think an affordable solution is likely in the next decade.
Speaking of batteries, the just announced 7-kWh residential battery by Tesla stores enough energy to run my AC for 1 hour, at a cost of $3000. How many charge/discharge cycles does it last?

Even without solar, I can use it to store off-peak energy at 7.41c and use it during on-peak which would cost me 22.26c, for a saving of 14.85c/kWh. This 7-kWh battery would save me $1.04 per day per battery. And I can use about 7 of these batteries (costing $21K).

If the above battery lasts 10,000 cycles (30c per day), it makes sense to use it to save $1/day in electricity. If it lasts only 1,000 cycles ($3/day), then it does not. Or if perhaps the price can drop down to $300, the economics would also work.

Maybe in the next 10 years...

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The other side of the coin is that rooftop solar reduces the need for utilities to build new power plants, thus all customers money. Our power bill has fuel costs separated from base rate charges that all customers pay. I think that is likely the fairest way to pay for overhead.
I do not remember if I showed in this or another thread that here in the SW, the highest electric usage is for AC in the summer. And the demand runs flat out to 9PM, way after sunset because the temperature does not drop until late at night, after all panels have stop producing. So the peak demand is the same as it was before any solar panel.

As I explained in an earlier post, my local utility is now allowed to have a different contract for residential solar customers to recapture the cost via a somewhat complicated formula.

PS. In Gila Bend, there is a thermal solar plant called Solana. It uses parabolic trough mirrors to melt a salt, which is then used to run turbines. The salt can store enough heat to produce power for a couple of hours past sunset. This meets the flat demand to 9 PM.
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Old 06-19-2015, 05:41 PM   #177
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Thanks for the reminder about roof replacement etc. I'll have to get DD to explore those costs. Her roof is ~10 years old so 10 -15 years left. My quick googling suggests remove and reinstall costs are in the $1000 range for a small array like she wants.
One possibility would be to go with a metal roof in the process, they have a 50 year life and hail resistance to boot. (double the price of a regular roof, but also less likley to blow off if the standing seam variety as one sheet of roofing runs from eave to peak)
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Old 06-19-2015, 05:53 PM   #178
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Maybe in the next 10 years...



I do not remember if I showed in this or another thread that here in the SW, the highest electric usage is for AC in the summer. And the demand runs flat out to 9PM, way after sunset because the temperature does not drop until late at night, after all panels have stop producing. So the peak demand is the same as it was before any solar panel.

As I explained in an earlier post, my local utility is now allowed to have a different contract for residential solar customers to recapture the cost via a somewhat complicated formula.

PS. In Gila Bend, there is a thermal solar plant called Solana. It uses parabolic trough mirrors to melt a salt, which is then used to run turbines. The salt can store enough heat to produce power for a couple of hours past sunset. This meets the flat demand to 9 PM.
Actually the Ercot sites load curves (the Texas Grid shows peak usage around 5 pm the last couple of days with around a 10% drop by 8 pm. (This is likely the dinner cooking and dishwasher load).
Now of course there is a solution to this which would take some space put in large water tanks and chill the water in the morning and use it to cool from 6 pm a 10,000 gallon tank is about a 12 foot cube for example and could store 80,000 btu per degree. If you take it from say 72 to 35 you get about 3 million btu stored or a 1000 gallon tank 300,000 btu which would provide about 3-5 hours of ac type cooling. (add antifreeze and you could get more heat storage). The question is of course the economics of the situation. as the technology itself is well proven chilled water for example is used in most larger buildings the main hvac makes chilled water which is piped thru the building to the air handlers.
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Old 06-19-2015, 06:04 PM   #179
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Yes, the dinner preparation as people arrive home from work adds to the peak demand. I was making a general observation that the power demand does not drop off at the same time as the sun disappears below the horizon.

About chilled water tanks, large industrial or commercial campuses have been using them forever. They also use evaporative precoolers to enhance the effectiveness of their ACs.
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Old 06-19-2015, 06:11 PM   #180
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The other side of the coin is that rooftop solar reduces the need for utilities to build new power plants, thus all customers money. Our power bill has fuel costs separated from base rate charges that all customers pay. I think that is likely the fairest way to pay for overhead.
I really don't think solar will reduce the need for power plants for a very long time, certainly not enough for customers to see any savings.

As NWB pointed out, the peak usage can last long into dusk. At this time, or any overcast day, power is needed to avoid brown-outs. So those power plants are needed. Until we get storage, but I've pointed out before, days of storage for days of overcast periods is a HUGE amount of storage.

The US presently gets 0.4% (yes, ZERO dot four) of its energy from solar PV. We are talking HUGE increases in installed levels before we start making a dent in power plant requirements, even when the sun shines.

What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source? - FAQ - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

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