Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Only 2 KWH Bought From PSE&G in March

Here's a snippet of my latest electric bill:

It turns out that I won't be receiving many exciting (negative) electric bills for a while because PSE&G does a lot of estimations (which you can see here).

I have to take a really close look to see the exciting stuff. If you look at the March row of this table you can see that in March 2009 I bought 760 KWH hours of power. In March 2010 it was only -- [drum roll] -- 2 KWH.

That's kind of cool. March wasn't even really very sunny. We didn't even generate an entire SREC. April will be more exciting -- unless PSE&G estimates the excitement away.


jkokis said...

I just stumbled across your solar power blog and read the whole thing--all posts from 2007-8 forward. I loved it. All the information you give is terrific. I had looked at a solar panel installer in VA, they look to be quite reputable but the info they give on SRECS is pitiful and biased towards their purchase of your SRECS for up to 15 years! The longer time frame they buy up, the lower the price they give.
I actually had no idea about SRECS, I just thought you had to recoup the system cost through electric bill savings. As you show, the SRECS are the major cost mitigation factor. I hope you keep posting, I certainly will keep reading.
Just curious, 3 questions: What about the combined weight of the panels and 2 foot snowfall on the roof structure? How much wind can the panels take without damage? Do the panels get dusty—is there maintenance for panel cleaning?
Thanks! Julie Kokis

Dave Conifer said...

Hi Julie,

I'm glad you like the blog. I enjoy doing it, and I think it fills a gap. There's a lot of technical information on solar power systems, but not much "on the ground for a regular person" information. That's what I'm trying to provide (and all I'm capable of providing.)

Yeah, I'm glad you noticed some of the nonsense that goes on with SREC brokers. I'm sure you read all my feelings on the subject and I won't rehash, except to say that you can find brokers who keep it simple and clear, and who don't take as much of your money.

Like you, we had tons of snow this winter. Except for the landslides it didn't really matter much. The cleared off pretty quickly. The landslides aren't trivial, though. If somebody was in the wrong place in the wrong time they could get hurt.

I looked in the attic at the underside of the roof and didn't see any problems. The panels don't add that much collective weight since they're spread across the roof.

Did you see the picture of the wind damage to our high school? It was so bad that they closed the school. That was a pretty good test for our panels, which didn't get bothered by the wind at all. I was nervous and kept an eye on them, believe me.

My understanding from everything I've read is that there's no need to clean the panels -- the rain does enough. I don't really know but that make sense to me. A year later we're cranking out a lot of power and we've never cleaned them.

Thanks for the questions and the interest!

jkokis said...

Thanks for the quick answer. I have been reading up on solar but not from the personal perspective you give. You've made me really want to climb on board.
The other thing is, nobody that I've read, other than you and the solar installer in my area, has even discussed SRECS, so I really appreciate that aspect of your posts. I don't think the average person knows anything about it.
I did read, on the net, about the HOA problems people have been having. One 'irate neighbor' commented that she wanted the panels off of her neighbor's roof because they were an eyesore and that he was making money from the net metering and SRECS. She said 'homes are not meant to be money makers' as if he was doing something 'dirty'. So much for free market economics!!

No need to reply to this comment. But another 2 questions have come up. What about hail? And are solar roof tiles an option in the East like they are in California, do you have any thoughts?
Julie in Northern Virginia

Dave Conifer said...

Hi Julie,

The complaints about ugliness are tricky. I can see that a bank of solar panels are uglier than a snow-capped mountain or even a glittering hotel. There are, though, SO many things that could be considered ugly in any neighborhood that nobody bats an eye at. I'm thinking about above ground pools, trampolines, satellite dishes and telephone poles criss-crossed with power lines. It seems that people get freaked out with the unfamiliar more than something that is legitimately unattractive. I read somewhere about somebody who complained about a wind turbine on one side of their house but had no problem with a steel electrical tower on the other.

I don't have any personal experience with hail yet but I've read that they don't present much of a problem for the panels. A solar panel is probably more sturdy than a car windshield but I guess we're used to not worrying about those.

Those solar roof tiles are pretty neat. I imagine they will be springing up all over when production is up and price is down. It definitely looks better than what's going on up on my roof...

jkokis said...

Thanks for your input.

I've started reading about solar and the misinformation (as compared to your blog site) is rampant. Have you thought about writing the truth about solar for the media?

Dave Conifer said...

That's really flattering, Julie, and I appreciate it. I'm trying hard to be honest and balanced in what I present here. Accuracy is something else I strive for but in the back of my mind is this scary little doubt. Hopefully I haven't given out any of those proverbial bum steers...