Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Read the Comments!

I want to mention to any and all readers that it's a good idea to read the comment trails in addition to the main posts. I try not to spread disinformation, and if I get something wrong I try to adjust the original post for accuracy. But there are so many readers who know way more than I do about all of this that it's very informative to read what THEY have to say.

For instance, I've learned a lot by reading the comments to this post from a few weeks ago about my negative electric bill.


Anonymous said...

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.

Dave Conifer said...

Hi Anonymous Pennsylvania person.

Your comment was so informative that I'm going to make it a full-fledged post. Thanks for taking the time to pass this information on. It's the kind of ground-level, practical stuff that doesn't get written or talked about about very much.

solarmanke said...

Sorry, My previous reply was to "Anonymous".

Dave, Did you say PV could be installed for $4 in 1999?
No way. It is only getting there now, if you do your own install. I can find CSP for $1.50 plus shipping plus BOS costs.

Dave Conifer said...

"Dave, Did you say PV could be installed for $4 in 1999? "

I don't remember saying anything like that :-)

Anonymous said...

Great site! Is it known who "Pennsylvania 9.84 kw system person" used for install? I am looking at PV installers in PA and am curious about who it was and experience? Thanks.

Kerry said...

I'm very new to your site and already love how you're sharing your experiences converting to solar. I'm a huge solar power fan and I plan on reading more about your experience. Thanks for sharing!