Sunday, December 20, 2009

Landslide! (Snow on the Panels)

We had our first significant snowfall since the panels went up. Significant is an understatement -- it was about two feet of snow. It started early Saturday morning. Here's what the roof looked like as night was falling on Saturday night.

Needless to say, the panels were covered over completely with a healthy layer of snow.

We were out early Sunday morning to get a head start on shoveling. The panels were still completely covered. Then we heard it -- it sounded like thunder but it was actually an avalanche. When it was over a sizable group of panels on the main roof were visible again (and the front sidewalk suddenly had three feet of hardpacked snow so we had to reshovel it.)

Since then there's been some melting but there's still snow on the main roof panels and the garage roof (including panels) is still covered.

I didn't expect any production given that so many panels were covered but it was a rather sunny day and by afternoon we were producing more juice than we used.

Snow on the panels is something I worried about because I suspected (correctly, as it turns out) that snow would let go and slide off in large sheets. That's what happened but the only consequence was a need to do some reshoveling...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Subsidies for Greening of Developing Nations

One of the major sticking points at the Copenhagen climate change discussions is whether and by how much the industrialized nations should subsidize the efforts by developing nations to "green up." Now, I have some qualms about how nations are divided into "developing" vs. "industrialized" but that's a whole different kettle of wax.

I don't necessarily oppose subsidizing the developing nations but I do oppose doing it by sending a wad of American taxpayer dollars to do it. That money will go straight to China or Malaysia to buy technology made on the cheap (probably by subsidiaries or derivatives of American companies, but that's another digression.)

What I'd rather do is pay American companies to hire American workers to build whatever these developing countries need, and then ship it over. That way, we will help put Americans to work in a growing, vibrant high-tech sector, which is something that's good for our country. If there were stipulations that the work could not be farmed out overseas to save on labor costs, an entirely reasonable arrangement, a lot of "obsolete" American workers would have a new start in a field that has tremendous upside.

Just across the river in Philadelphia a company will be setting up shop building solar panels on the former Navy Yard site. That's a rarity that only happened because of a slew of tax breaks and incentives. Most of the new solar panel factories are going up in other countries where the labor is cheap. This idea might help to change that.

Just something to think about. I've greatly oversimplified but I think the concept is sound.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sold Our First SRECs!

We sold our first SRECs.

This is the email I just received from our SREC broker, SRECTrade:

Dear Dave :

You successfully sold 4 2010 New Jersey SREC(s) in the December 4, 2009 auction. The clearing price for this auction was $660 and your total payment is $2640 (please see attached statement for details).

I was surprised that we had four to sell. I didn't know if we had any at all. The system has actually generated about 6 SRECs worth but we only passed inspection and were certified a few weeks ago. I had no idea if we would be awarded SRECs for power generated before the system was certified, but apparently we were.

SRECTrade auctions off SRECs in the Mid-Atlantic area. Here are the prices they fetched in yesterday's auction:

District of Columbia $290
Delaware $200
Maryland $360
New Jersey $660
Pennsylvania $290

Very cool. In my next post I'll talk about SRECTrade and how easy this was. They literally did everything for us. I'm so thankful I didn't sign on with the brokers that we first learned about.

I also want to review the process by which it's determined how many SRECs we have. Trust me, nobody came by the house and read our inverters. I think I blogged about this last summer but I need a refresher.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

First Negative Electric Bill

We received our first 'negative' electric bill yesterday.

We've produced more power than we've used since late August. I already knew that but the power company estimated our meter readings for the previous bill so I didn't have it in writing from them. I also figured they'd nickel and dime the surplus away with fees and charges (which are a surprisingly large part of the average electric bill) but it still came out way negative.

Credit Balance - Do not Pay $ 100.38 CR