Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Who Are the Winners Here?

Nothing new to report, except that we are no longer generating SRECs.

So who wins in the new scenario?  Installers and electricians stand to benefit, I suppose.  I chose not to spend the money on new equipment, mostly because SRECs are near worthless right now and it would take nearly a year just to break even.  But I'm sure some people will make the investment.

The SREC brokers?  I'm not sure.  There will probably be fewer SRECs to broke.  On the other hand, if that's the case, then that makes SRECs more valuable, I'd think, so commissions would be bigger.  It's probably a wash for them, at best.

The big power companies that are required to purchase the SRECs?  If what I said above is true, I'd think they'll have to pay more per SREC now.  Not more than they were two years ago, though, when they were going for ten times what they go for now.

So, after two minutes of deep reflection, I don't see any obvious winners here as a result of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) decision to require the new equipment.  Anybody else have an idea?  Why did they do this?  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Final Clarification (Again)

Yeah, in light of the lists of acceptable meters that I posted yesterday (one of which included mine), I AGAIN asked my broker if my meter was sufficient.  Hey, it's on a friggin' list.  I know they're totally annoyed with me, but I feel like there are people relying on me to help clear this up.

They replied that the new meter is "in addition to the electric meter installed by the local utility to measure the home or business' electric consumption."  (that's a quote from the NJ BPU declaration).

They added that "if the meter you are speaking about is your utility net meter, then it is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the NJ BPU mandate."

I dunno', I guess I'm supposed to feel like an idiot, but I just don't.  This shouldn't be so complicated, but I still haven't seen a simple explanation as to what equipment is needed in order to continue to accrue SRECs.  After asking various questions of various people I'm now satisfied that my setup doesn't cut the mustard,
 but it shouldn't have been so difficult to figure that out.

A simple paragraph and maybe a schematic or diagram showing what is needed and where it fits into the existing system would do wonders to clear this up for me and the dozens of blog readers that are e-mailing me.  Part of the problem is that there really isn't an advocate for the small solar producers, somebody who has a stake in getting this message delivered clearly.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lists of Approved Meters

I just noticed that the New Jersey Clean Energy website has a page which includes a link to two lists of electric meters, along with an indication as to whether the meter has been approved for meeting ANSI CR.1-2008 standard of +/- 2% accuracy (as of December 1, only meters which meet this standard can be used to report readings for generation of SRECs).

Here are the two lists on that page.  I'm inferring that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJ BPU) is saying that if it's approved on one of these lists, it's good enough for them.  It might be worth a few minutes to look.  Maybe your meter is good enough:

New York State Department of Public Service


My meter (General Electric I-210+C, installed by PSE&G on July 25, 2012) is marked as "approved" on the New York list but as "not approved" on the California list.  I just e-mailed my broker about it, because they seem to be the gatekeeper here, but I don't have much hope.  I already annoyed the hell out of them a couple of weeks ago and was finally told that my meter doesn't meet the standard.  I just figured that now that I'd seen a list, I'd ask again and point the list out.

Monday, December 3, 2012

"About Five-Hundred Bucks"

Just for the heck of it, I emailed a local solar installer and asked for a ballpark estimate for installing a revenue grade meter.  He just replied that it would be in the neighborhood of $500.  I'm just assuming that he knew what we were talking about, even though I really don't.  Does that make sense?

So at least we know what we're dealing with.   Another way to express the amount would be "About seven SRECs worth..."

Friday, November 30, 2012

No More SRECs for Me

As of tomorrow, New Jersey will no longer award SRECs based on estimates.  Instead, only numbers from "revenue grade" meters will be accepted.  I'm still not clear on the process.  If I upgraded my meter, would I be the one reading the meter and forwarding the reading?  To whom would I report it?  My broker?  Is that any more reliable than an estimate?

And why isn't my meter good enough to report power generation when it is deemed perfectly fine for reporting and billing me for power consumption?  What's wrong with this picture?

But I did get the word from my broker that my net meter isn't good enough.  With the abysmal rates that SRECs are selling for, I've decided not to invest any money in buying a new meter.  Besides the cost, it would be a bureaucratic clusterF to

    1) Identify a suitable meter.
    2) Explain this mess to an electrician and get a price.
    3) Get any needed approvals.
    4) Hope my broker agrees that it's good enough (they don't seem to have a list of acceptable ones).
    5+) etc.

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know how these things work.  It takes so much time just to explain questions and issues even before anybody starts trying to resolve them.

I'm disappointed about this.  Loss of SREC income will shove back my payoff date even further into the future (although the plummeting value of the darn things had pretty much already done that).  I feel like I've been shafted by the New Jersey Board of Utilities, who let me install a system and then decided to implement this drastic change.

The various authorities and entities have screwed this up royally.  I'm feeling rather cynical about the whole thing right now.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Now I Must Buy an Expensive New Meter or No More SRECS!

Bad news for me and a lot of solar generators in the Garden State.  Sometimes it's hard not to flip a giant bird at the ruling bodies when these decisions come down.

It seems that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is going to require that solar generators like me will need to install a revenue grade production meter (RGM) in order to accumulate SRECs.  And nobody will be grandfathered in.  It's conceivable that my current meter meets that requirement, but I just can't imagine that I have that kind of luck.  I've never had it before.

An RGM is defined as a meter that meets the ANSI C12.1-2008 standard of +/-2% accuracy.  More importantly, it will cost six or seven hundred bucks, all of which would come right out of my pocket.  This pretty much sucks.  I consider it a violation of the contract/agreement that I entered into when I signed up for this whole thing.  But what I think isn't going to matter, of course.

I don't know when this goes into effect.  For all I know it could be immediate.

If this were a year or two ago, the decision would be a no-brainer.  In order to generate a dozen SRECs a year, each of which sold for over $600, would it have been worth it to incur a one-time cost of $600?  Duh.

Now, however, it isn't so easy a call.  SRECs aren't worth the electrons they're printed on.  At the current SREC price, it'll take a year of SREC generation just to cover the cost of the new meter (and regular followers of this blog now that I burned several years off the end of my life convincing PSE&G to install the meter I now have had since July).

It's all so stupid.  The state has failed to do what's necessary to preserve the value of SRECs, which have thus dropped through the floor and are practically worthless.  Now they're exponentially jacking up the price of generating them.    

I hate to be one of those people who goes ballistic about government shortsightedness anytime anything doesn't go their way, but if the shoe fits...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Time Lapse, Every US Installation Since 2000

Here's a pretty cool time lapse graphic presentation (day by day) of every photovoltaic solar installation since 2000.