Friday, December 3, 2010

Great Practical Information Here! (Not from me)

Hey Everybody,

Wasn't I just saying that the best stuff on this blog is in the comments from really smart people?

Well, here's a great comment that I thought was post-worthy. It's from a solar owner/operator in Pennsylvania (where they're really getting in gear on solar energy). There is a lot of ground-level, practical information here that you just don't see on all the glamorous web sites and presentations.

Thanks, Pennsylvania 9.84 kw system person!

I've been reading this blog since we installed our 9.84 kW system in PA earlier this year (early May). I love our system for how well it works and looks, but we've had numerous problems along the way. I'd like to share some of these for those installing in PA.

1) It took FOREVER for us to pass our electrical inspection. Because of the large number of systems being installed, there are independent inspectors inspecting solar only. This is great to ensure that our system looks and is installed as it should be, but our installer seemed confused/unprepared for the scrutiny given our system--unfortunately this all came at the price of over a month of inspections and reworking of our system...ugh!

2) Our installer powered up our system before PECO installed our second meter for net metering. Our meter happily ran back and forth--we were so happy, until we got our electric bill. Unfortunately, PECO only reads clicks of a reference point on analog meters, so every click forward (or backward) was billed. We explained our problem to PECO--they didn't care because our installer shouldn't have powered up the system. Our installer argued we could sell the SREC generated during this time to offset the electric cost--we couldn't. Until you are interconnected in PA, the system can not be registered, if it's not registered any SREC generated does not count.

3) Getting to sell SRECs takes time. We are using SREC Trade for our SRECS. Public record show our system was registered in early July (whether this is the date SREC can count or the date of registration I am not clear) but I am clear that registering, setting up a GATS account and getting to the point we could enter our production took until OCTOBER. We were not able to sell SRECs until the November auction even though we provided all our system info before install. Keep this 5-6 month window in mind as you budget repaying that really big install bill.

4) Speaking of that bill... Our system was installed using Tier I Sunshine funds. It is currently December and I still have not received my state rebate check. I can't seem to get any information out of the PA Sunshine office other than all the completion paperwork has been received. To be fair to the state of PA, my installer was slow to get all the paperwork in order, but the state acknowledges they have had everything since August and according to my installer we've been cleared to be paid since October. Apparently that check is being written one letter/number a day--hopefully we'll see that check before our one year install anniversary.

5) Our electric bills (PECO) do not go negative. I am still trying to figure everything out, so if anyone knows more ... We received readings of our 'out' meter and 'in' meter monthly. As long as the net production equals or exceeds our use in a month we are only billed a customer fee. My understanding is that if our usage exceeds production in any month we will receive a bill for the difference (even though we have a bank of over 1750 kWh at this point) and that our excess will be paid out (wholesale rate I believe) at the end of the solar year. I am not sure we will reach a point to test this hypothesis-- system works great to supply our usage needs and we are still producing an excess (this is the brightest point of our solar adventure). And yes...plans are in the works to change over more of our home to use more of our clean, 'free' electric supply. Of course, a large chuck of our money is tied up waiting......

Hope this useful to someone out there, if only to make you feel better about your own situation.


solarmanke said...

Hi Ya'all, and Dave, You use allot of power. Must have electric home heating as well as water heating, yes?
I have a 5.5KW PV array (so far), netmetering, waiting for SREC Trade approval also. Though my production is usually more than use, the .98 per diem tally of our Ute. makes our bill a net cost as yet. The gloomier winter months will certainly not produce as much either. So, I'm adding more PV.
I also produce heated water with coaxial vacuum tube collectors, which are much more efficient in the winter cold and lighter in weight and wind resistance than flat panels. They provide the heating component of home energy use far more efficiently than PV ever could by a factor of three to four. It is also easily stored in the form of water in an insulated tank.

massachusetts solar panels said...

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