Going greener - update

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After one full year of operation, here's the results of going solar for my house.
Total electricity expense 2011 = $1767.36 Total electricity expense 2012 = $1315.32 (includes $93/mo solar lease and $65 refund for excess power generated in 2012)
Savings $452.04
The above totals include taxes and fees of ~$19/mo.
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On Wed, 26 Dec 2012 07:16:29 -0700, Doug Winterburn

However, you need to include other expenses and savings to get a total picture.
All that money you invested in going solar, what kind of interest potential would you have gained if it was invested elsewhere?
What did it cost to install that solar or get it hooked up onto the grid? That's also possible investment money.
Things are as cut and dried as some would like to believe.
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On 12/26/2012 07:32 AM, Dave wrote:

It's a 20 year lease, so I didn't pay anything for the system. I did pay $1800 to eliminate a 3% annual increase on the lease, but that was optional. I could have paid $9000 to eliminate lease payments altogether or I could have paid $17,000 to purchase the system without any maintenance provisions. The lease includes any and all installation and maintenance costs. As it stands, I should recover my initial cost in four years. and then be doing even better as my utility provider rates have been going up at a fairly rapid rate.
Very cut and dried.
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On 12/26/2012 8:16 AM, Doug Winterburn wrote:

Doug good to hear your set up is working out for you. Seems the lease is the way to go especially since they are responsible for keeping the system going.
I am curious though, how big is your house, do you use gas also?
My home is pretty new, 2 years old and uses electricity and gas. My electricity cost for 2012 was $1432.00. 2 story just at 2,287 sq ft, approximately 1,700 down and 600 up. 15732 kWh usage.
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On 12/26/2012 08:57 AM, Leon wrote:

The house is 19 years old and 1858 sq. ft. on one level. Yes we do use gas for hot water and the BBQ and gas fireplace. House is plumbed for gas clothes dryer and stove, but those are currently electric.
Had 11968 kWh/year or about 1000kWh average/month.
We are in the AZ desert, so most usage is for AC.
I did put in about 95% CFLs.
The company does cover Texas: https://www.solarcity.com/states/tx/texas.aspx
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On 12/26/2012 9:16 AM, Doug Winterburn wrote:

To compare the to figure you need to provide additional information to get a good comparison. Others have mentioned the return on investment. 19/month is not very high depending on the cost per year of unit or rent. How much did it cost to modify the existing heating unit for the solar.
Second and most important is a comparison of the heating/cooling requirements for the two winters. I believe if you check there is a parameter called Degree/Days. It is used by the energy providing companies to estimate the amount of inventories they will need.
http://www.degreedays.net / http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/documentlibrary/hcs/hcs.html
While I am not sure how it is calculated, the Degree days estimates the amount of energy to provide the heat or cooling need to maintain an ambient temperature. Sort of like the area under the daily temperature curve.
So comparing the degree day for one year to that of the previous day would give you a better comparison.
If the total degree days 2011 was 5000 and in 2012 was 4000, then your cost save may not be significant as it took 20% less energy to heat the house in 2012 as it did in 2012.
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On 12/26/2012 09:14 AM, Keith Nuttle wrote:

lease is $93/month.
There is no modification of the heating unit as this is solar electric and is grid tied. I also use gas for heat. I'm in the AZ desert, so my major electric usage is AC.
All I know is I am generating more kWh than I use and it is costing me less than before the system was installed.
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On 12/26/2012 10:37 AM, Doug Winterburn wrote:

What provision was/is made in the event of a power failure in the neighborhood? Is there an automatic switch that prevents you from energizing the neighborhood should the power company fail to deliver power?
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On 12/26/2012 10:09 AM, Leon wrote:

Yes, that is a requirement of the utility company. When the inverter doesn't see utility power, it shuts down. Wouldn't want any linemen getting zapped!
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On 12/26/2012 11:35 AM, Doug Winterburn wrote:

Exactly! Thank you for all of the information Doug!
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wrote:

Grid tie is NOT off-grid. Grid goes down, so does the inverter. Impossible to back-feed and impossible to "back up" in MOST situations.

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On 12/26/2012 11:15 AM, -MIKE- wrote:

It's still _their_ grid he's hooked up to...
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On 12/26/2012 1:00 PM, -MIKE- wrote:

a) We don't know what taxes those are... b) I expect while his net annual generation may be positive it's not every month during the year.
So, insufficient information...besides, it's dealing w/ mandates/law so there's nothing that says it has to make sense, anyway.
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On 12/26/2012 12:12 PM, dpb wrote:

Here's the breakdown of taxes and fees:
Charges for electricity services Cost of net electricity Customer account charge $7.85 Delivery service charge $0.00 Environmental benefits surcharge $0.00 System benefits charge $0.00 Power supply adjustment* $0.00 Metering* $6.14 Meter reading* $2.05 Billing* $2.31 Generation of electricity on-peak* $0.00 Generation of electricity off-peak* $4.03 Federal transmission and ancillary services* $0.00 Federal transmission cost adjustment* $0.00 Cost of electricity you used $22.38 Taxes and fees Regulatory assessment $0.05 State sales tax $1.51 County sales tax $0.25 City sales tax $0.46 Franchise fee $0.44 Cost of electricity with taxes and fees $25.09
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On 12/26/2012 10:37 AM, Doug Winterburn wrote: ...

And, of course, you're in AZ so that's a likely outcome.
What's missing in the overall cost data is the federal/state subsidies that the supplier/utility receive that allow for your end rate to be what it is. If you were paying "full retail" it wouldn't come close...
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On 12/26/2012 11:48 AM, dpb wrote:

quite a few years. Also, the feds are requiring the utility companies to have a percentage of their capacity in renewables or pay fines.
As close as I can figure the subsidies is the purchase cost of ~$17k (in which case I'd get the tax credits) and the lease full payout which in looking at the paperwork would be $9.6k.
However at $1767 pre solar a year and multiplying by 20 years + utility cost inflation, the $17k purchase wouldn't be a bad deal if maintenance didn't get in the way.
Of course, the odds aren't good I'll be around for 20 years.
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On 12/26/2012 1:16 PM, Doug Winterburn wrote:

There's probably state mandates for "green", too, that your generation unit has to meet some minimum load percentage.
I'd suspect that last if is probably an _IF_ (the proverbial kind) altho if you're in a hail-free area and such the odds of catastrophic failures may not be too bad. It'll be interesting how the efficiency stays w/ time--the solar panels the oilfield collection/pipeline guys use here to run their remote facilities are having to be replaced on fairly short time frames at least up to now...
It's a future technology that's on it's growing pains--the biggest issues I see overall for it and wind as well is that in order to really be effective we'll end up having to pave the entire country and put towers everywhere--there simply won't be anyplace at all that isn't covered up and pristine. And, of course, it's still an unreliable fuel source--sun only works half the time and wind doesn't always blow so we still have to have the conventional reserve anyway.
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On 12/26/2012 12:41 PM, dpb wrote:

hail here, but it would be covered under the lease as would unacceptably low output.
I agree it isn't the complete answer, but my roof wasn't being used for anything else and I don't mind cutting my costs for electricity.
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On 12/26/2012 2:50 PM, Doug Winterburn wrote:

I was thinking of the case if you were having to do the full-monte cost burden rather than the (I'm convinced) subsidized lease arrangement to cover the maintenance whatever it turned out to be. On the lease arrangement, sure, you're individually pretty much immune; it's all the rest of us that are footing the bill (or the Chinese, more accurately, perhaps :) ).
I'm heavily involved in our local REC and we have to deal w/ all these mandates and still try to provide 100% reliable, inexpensive power to our members/customers.
It just isn't at all clear how this can be done when even here in SW KS which is the ideal wind territory other than for a _very_ few geographical places in the entire world that do have nearly year-round sufficient wind the large-scale wind farms average only about 35% of installed capacity on an annual capacity factor basis. I've done correlation studies of output w/ local wind data and the monthly integrated output vs average wind speed over a seven year period has a correlation factor of >80% which is very strong evidence the output is wind-limited, not operational. When it takes 2.5X the installed capacity to generate X MWe on the grid on average, and the low is as little as 20% for a month, it makes the generation cost very high even given the fuel cost is zero and then, as noted, we still have to have spinning reserve for what can't be made up for at any given time.
One thing is clear if the mandates continue to grow is that costs are going to go up drastically (or reliability is going to go way down).
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On 12/26/2012 5:00 PM, dpb wrote:

I was in Lost Vegas a couple years ago and noticed the wind was always blowing, and of course, the sun was out in full force every day. Also noticed no windmills anywhere, and no solar collectors. Also, in Vegas, the billion or trillion lights seemed to shine 24/7. It seemed clear that the giant dam feeding electric to them was providing energy cheap enough that few cared much about wind/sun power even though to me, it might possibly work a bit in the dessert.
Where I live, electric cost lots to produce but the damn sun never shines, and wind is only around when it storms. If I had the sun and wind of Vegas, I'd have both solar and windmills, and not one small part of me is green.
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