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keydiver
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Re: Demand Rates and Solar / Using The Grid "For Free"

Mon Feb 16, 2015 4:33 pm

I thought Lakeland was extremely pro-solar, what happened?? :? I seem to remember all kinds of incentives for solar hot water and solar electric for many years now, and always wished I lived in Lakeland.
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Re: Demand Rates and Solar / Using The Grid "For Free"

Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:20 pm

I'll chime in and offer a different opinion. The customers installing grid tie solar do provide power back to the grid, however they only do this for less than half of the day at best, and even during that time they are relying completely on the grid for reliability.

Historically nothing like this was possible so the utilities charged using a simple calculation, you pay for what you use based on KWH's consumed. But is it really fair that a customer who provides power for a small bit of power for part of the day gets to use all of the equipment required to keep the grid functioning for free?

The solar customer is relying on thousand of miles of wire, voltage regulators, circuit breakers, 24/7 operating personnel, maintenance personnel, and power plants to be there ready the instant a cloud covers their PV panel, and as the sun sets to keep the lights on during the night. I believe that it is completely reasonable to be charged a certain amount for that service. I also think that if you build a large enough array then maybe you should get free power, but it needs to do much more than covering just your load.

If you don't want to be charged for that service then build your solar system appropriately, with a battery backup, and disconnect from the grid. However anyone who has looked at that option quickly realizes that connecting the grid and using it as a battery is so much cheaper.

Diving further in to the solar issue is the problem that occurs as you start adding more and more solar, take a peak at the California ISO "duck curve," (http://www.solarcurator.com/wp-content/ ... 506141.jpg). Notice how system load is not highest during the day, but peaks at night after the solar goes down. Now instead of having to raise generation 2,000MW's the ISO is going to have to raise it by 12,000MW's, the equivalent of bring 9 large coal or nuclear plants from offline to online in 3 hours, not an easy feat.

All that being said, it can be done, but there are costs associated with it, and is it fair to pass your share for the grid costs on to someone who can't afford solar, or can't get it because they don't own their house? Sure the utility company is a big bad entity who just wants your money, on the flip side you're the customer who demands 100% reliable, clean power, and wants to pay nothing for it. We have to meet somewhere in the middle.

At least the utility in question is a public utility, while profiting is important, the community has much more of a voice than an investor owned utility where you know the only goal of the business is to take your money. Don't like the politicians interfering, run your self, organize a campaign, do something, if it were a private utility you could send a message to the CEO begging for mercy.

My two cents.

-Matt
PS: Before pointing at Germany has done it, please know that the average price of electricity in Germany is THREE times higher than the average US price, and there are. Also before pointing out how we need a stronger, better transmission grid, show me one person willing to let a large transmission project be run next to their home.
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Re: Demand Rates and Solar / Using The Grid "For Free"

Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:16 pm

Lopton wrote: PS: Before pointing at Germany has done it, please know that the average price of electricity in Germany is THREE times higher than the average US price, and there are. Also before pointing out how we need a stronger, better transmission grid, show me one person willing to let a large transmission project be run next to their home.
Germany's also about 3-4x more EFFICIENT using the electricity. My house there had about a $100/month electric bill while a similar sized house in the US cost more than $300 to heat in the winter. That was in the 1990s. Passivhaus uses about 10% of the energy of even a standard 1990s German house.

Trying to suggest that adding solar to the US grid will be more expensive "because GERMANY" is beyond silly.

As for the rest - we've beat the duck curve to death. News flash: PV is generated during the day - during peak demand. Adding PV to the grid means that the grid operators don't have to fire-up their peakers as much. From the grid operator perspective, it's a hell of a lot cheaper to 'let' all the 'civilians' add PV with THEIR OWN MONEY rather than pay to install another power plant...
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DaveEV
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Re: Demand Rates and Solar / Using The Grid "For Free"

Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:37 pm

Lopton wrote:I'll chime in and offer a different opinion. The customers installing grid tie solar do provide power back to the grid, however they only do this for less than half of the day at best, and even during that time they are relying completely on the grid for reliability.

Historically nothing like this was possible so the utilities charged using a simple calculation, you pay for what you use based on KWH's consumed. But is it really fair that a customer who provides power for a small bit of power for part of the day gets to use all of the equipment required to keep the grid functioning for free?
Sure - but how is this different from simply using less energy through increase efficiency?
Lopton wrote:Diving further in to the solar issue is the problem that occurs as you start adding more and more solar, take a peak at the California ISO "duck curve,"
The duck curve so far is mostly a problem that has occurred as a result of utility scale solar plants, not distributed solar behind the meter - not to mention that the duck curve is looking at a worst case scenario right now - summer time demand looks nothing like that due to AC loads.

By the time a significant amount of behind-the-meter solar exports, I suspect that affordable grid-storage will be available to shift load from the middle of the day a few hours into the evening thus largely eliminating the issue. Aside from grid storage, there are quite a few options for shifting demand to off-peak hours - just look at the recent SCE purchase of 250MW of grid storage and demand shifting technology.

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dgpcolorado
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Re: Demand Rates and Solar / Using The Grid "For Free"

Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:15 am

AndyH wrote:...News flash: PV is generated during the day - during peak demand. Adding PV to the grid means that the grid operators don't have to fire-up their peakers as much. From the grid operator perspective, it's a hell of a lot cheaper to 'let' all the 'civilians' add PV with THEIR OWN MONEY rather than pay to install another power plant...
Depends on where you live. Peak here is mornings and evenings and midday is off-peak (I try to charge my LEAF at midday to use my solar directly). Not every place is the same.

My local utility is a co-op, so it is owned by customers. They try to distribute the infrastructure costs fairly but also vigorously support renewables because that's what we want (most of the several dozen co-ops in states around here are very anti-renewables). Our co-op has raised the monthly service charge to $16 a month but a manager has told me that it probably ought to be something like $23 a month to evenly distribute the costs. I certainly don't have a problem with paying my share of supporting the grid.

It is worth noting that in this remote, extremely mountainous and thinly populated area, infrastructure costs figure to be a lot higher than more urbanized places. Case in point: I have my own transformer on my lot and it will only ever serve my house. So I would expect that an infrastructure service charge could be lower in more densely populated areas.

Our co-op used to reconcile net metering production at the end of June, just about the worst possible time for those of us with solar. So several dozen solar customers attended a board meeting and asked them to shift the time and they made it March. Then a month later they just got rid of the annual production reconciling date entirely; now we can carry over solar credit as long as we want and cash out — at wholesale rates, to be sure — if and when we choose. And they have offered generous rebates to customers who install renewables or energy efficiency improvements. Our co-op also built what was then the largest community solar array so that customers who didn't have good solar options could buy panels in the community array and get solar credit that way. Our district library has purchased forty panels in the community array to offset some of its electricity usage, for example. ROI is expected to be 6.5%, which is pretty good since reserves are earning near zero interest in the bank (I'm treasurer of the board of trustees and it was my proposal to buy the panels).
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Weatherman
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Re: Demand Rates and Solar / Using The Grid "For Free"

Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:38 am

FPL charges $9.05/month just to connect to the grid. They also zero out our net-metered surplus at the end of each calendar year, so if we generate a surplus from our PV systems in November and December (pretty typical once we can turn off our AC), we are compensated at the wholesale rate. I had a 700 kWh surplus at the end of last year and FPL credited my account a grand total of $19.33 for it (retail rates for electricity are around 11.5c/kWh).

I generate a surplus from January through April and FPL "stores it away". From June through September, FPL lets me use my "stored surplus" at no additional cost. So, I may have one month each year where I pay more than $9.05, and, depending on how much surplus I have at the end of the year, the first two months of connect charges are free. Pretty good deal, all things considered.
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LKK
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Re: Demand Rates and Solar / Using The Grid "For Free"

Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:42 am

Using the grid for free! Are they kidding? So by trading one KWH of clean renewable power during peak demand hours for one KWH of much dirtier grid power during off peak period is free, give me a break. The fact is privately funded residential solar reduces the need to build more expensive power generation facilities and the expensive transmission infrastructure necessary to support it.

The real reason for utilities attacking solar users is loss of profits. More and more of their high tier/high profit customers are finding it less expensive to go solar. That great for them and great for the environment, but bad for the utilities. But utilities are guaranteed a set profit, so how should they make up for lost revenue? Instead of sticking it to individual residential user, who are essentially pre-paying for electricity to the solar industry, how about building their own wind and solar and deliver it to their customers cheaper than customer installed equipment? Here's another thought, build tens of thousands of charging stations to promote the growth of EVs which will use power generated by these lazy utilities.

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Re: Demand Rates and Solar / Using The Grid "For Free"

Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:57 am

LKK wrote: The real reason for utilities attacking solar users is loss of profits.
The short version. :D


The long version:
Lopton wrote:I'll chime in and offer a different opinion. The customers installing grid tie solar do provide power back to the grid, however they only do this for less than half of the day at best, and even during that time they are relying completely on the grid for reliability.
A different opinion is definitely welcomed. I believe that the counterpoints will prove more compelling though.
Lopton wrote: Historically nothing like this was possible so the utilities charged using a simple calculation, you pay for what you use based on KWH's consumed. But is it really fair that a customer who provides power for a small bit of power for part of the day gets to use all of the equipment required to keep the grid functioning for free?

The solar customer is relying on thousand of miles of wire, voltage regulators, circuit breakers, 24/7 operating personnel, maintenance personnel, and power plants to be there ready the instant a cloud covers their PV panel, and as the sun sets to keep the lights on during the night. I believe that it is completely reasonable to be charged a certain amount for that service. I also think that if you build a large enough array then maybe you should get free power, but it needs to do much more than covering just your load.
And that is where the problem is, the utilities want to use a "simple calculation," but with the stipulation that the calculation will result in more profits for them. Otherwise they're perfectly willing to go to complex calculations, as their longstanding charges for businesses for demand demonstrate. It is also true that, at least for the time people are generating, they really aren't using the grid, the grid is using their electricity for the benefit of the electric company or in a more general sense the society with clean electricity. So why shouldn't there be a calculation for them to credit their "grid charges"" for that timeframe, except it would be a complex calculation. In my situation, I am on TOU, and have ONLY used the grid for electricity for off-peak times (at least for the past 10 days since they put the meter in, prior to that I had smaller batteries and did use some peak electricity).
Lopton wrote: If you don't want to be charged for that service then build your solar system appropriately, with a battery backup, and disconnect from the grid. However anyone who has looked at that option quickly realizes that connecting the grid and using it as a battery is so much cheaper.
That's what I've done is built a PV system with battery backup, and if there weren't space constrictions I'd have 12kw instead of 5kw and truly go off-grid, although I don't think that is allowed by code (I know that is the situation in some places). After three hurricanes in Central Florida, the third one at the last hour or so knocking power out and resulting in damages to the house because I didn't have electricity to wet-vac the water that was coming in, and power out for a week, I had a real incentive. And yet, no credit for the grid charges when the power was out and they didn't provide the 100% reliable electricity that people were depending on. And yes, I understand there were extenuating circumstances, but yet that doesn't change the logical argument.

Lopton wrote: Diving further in to the solar issue is the problem that occurs as you start adding more and more solar, take a peak at the California ISO "duck curve," (http://www.solarcurator.com/wp-content/ ... 506141.jpg). Notice how system load is not highest during the day, but peaks at night after the solar goes down. Now instead of having to raise generation 2,000MW's the ISO is going to have to raise it by 12,000MW's, the equivalent of bring 9 large coal or nuclear plants from offline to online in 3 hours, not an easy feat.
That is the responsibility of the electric company to plan for I would think. Wouldn't they be bringing the generators up as they do every morning after being off-peak all night?

Lopton wrote: All that being said, it can be done, but there are costs associated with it, and is it fair to pass your share for the grid costs on to someone who can't afford solar, or can't get it because they don't own their house? Sure the utility company is a big bad entity who just wants your money, on the flip side you're the customer who demands 100% reliable, clean power, and wants to pay nothing for it. We have to meet somewhere in the middle.
I just don't understand this "is it fair" point. Is it really fair that somebody is driving a Corvette Z06 or a Tesla while I'm in an 8-year-old Prius (for clarification, I and my family also have a 2011 Nissan LEAF)? Oh, I put the money into PV solar and batteries instead, so I made a choice. Is it a prudent choice? Maybe and maybe not, it depends on your definition of "prudent." :)

But yes, it is fair to "pass your share for the grid cost on to someone who can't afford solar, or can't get it because they don't own their house." That is because the utility has chosen to do their "simple calculation" and subsidize the true cost of the grid between customers based on their complex calculations, such as some utilities that calculate this based on peak hour usage, and tipping off the large customers when that will be so those customers can cut back for that hour or two. It would be easy to simply add "grid connection fee" on a per kwh basis to everybody's bill.

Look at the rate plan they want to push the PV customers onto, Residential Demand. As they have business customers on demand rates. And yet, what is "fair" about a business or resident whose demand is during off-peak periods? Why should that customer be charged the same demand fee as somebody who is using energy during peak or even overloaded times because they aren't being charged correctly? My demand currently, without any effort as it is a trial period at the moment, is 12kw off-peak, 0kw peak. If people were charged correctly with complex calculations the utilities could dump probably 20% of their infrastructure. But you see, they don't want to do that, because in the great country we live in, utilities are guaranteed a profit for their efforts. So logically, what incentive do they have but to expend money on nuclear plants they know won't ever come online, knowing that they're covered AND profiting! A sweet deal if you can get it, is it fair that mere citizens can't get such guarantees when they invest?
Lopton wrote: At least the utility in question is a public utility, while profiting is important, the community has much more of a voice than an investor owned utility where you know the only goal of the business is to take your money. Don't like the politicians interfering, run your self, organize a campaign, do something, if it were a private utility you could send a message to the CEO begging for mercy.
I truly chuckle, but that is because I'm local knowing much more information about the local situation, rather than forming a logical opinion a Lopton has. Just today in the paper, more exposure about how the utility misled the city commission: http://www.theledger.com/article/201502 ... ions&tc=ar" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; It is also the case of the utility and the city taking advantage of those in the county, who are truly powerless to do anything about it, have no vote there, and a state attorney who unfortunately won't hold those city commissioners responsible when they have violated, and admitted it, open meeting laws of Florida.
Lopton wrote: My two cents.

-Matt
That used to get me about a kwh of electricity, but if I remain interconnected with my PV they'll kick me off (on 10/1/15) the TOU rate I'm on, directly in contradiction to the federal government's years of stating that utilities should be shifting toward TOU rates. Instead, they'll happily have me, along with everybody else, straining the grid at peak times so they can start the circle of expansion and profits again.

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Re: Demand Rates and Solar / Using The Grid "For Free"

Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:10 am

Using the grid for free! Are they kidding? So by trading one KWH of clean renewable power during peak demand hours for one KWH of much dirtier grid power during off peak period is free, give me a break. The fact is privately funded residential solar reduces the need to build more expensive power generation facilities and the expensive transmission infrastructure necessary to support it.
+10

In most places, business demand (during the day) is much higher than residential demand at night.
And in many areas, utilities are required to offer customers the "opt in" for a renewable energy choice.
We are supplying that requirement to the utility for FREE. No investment on their part at all.

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Re: Demand Rates and Solar / Using The Grid "For Free"

Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:19 am

LKK wrote:Using the grid for free! Are they kidding? So by trading one KWH of clean renewable power during peak demand hours for one KWH of much dirtier grid power during off peak period is free, give me a break. The fact is privately funded residential solar reduces the need to build more expensive power generation facilities and the expensive transmission infrastructure necessary to support it.
Depends very much on where, as the peak demand time isn't the same everyplace. For Snohomish PUD in Washington State, yearly peak demand time is typically in the winter, at about 5AM. Why? Heat in homes, mostly. Setback thermostats start warming homes up about then. Both electric heat, and fans for forced air. And no help from solar at all.

In sunny warm places, peak demand can be in the summer at 1PM or so. Solar is a great fit.

It's even more complex, as hydro (the main source of power locally) is seasonal. There is actually some help from solar to the grid in late summer afternoons, which you wouldn't guess from just the yearly peak load curve. But in general, solar isn't nearly as good of a deal for the utilities here as it is in (say) San Diego. Not only because they don't need to keep the moss from growing on the panels in San Diego...
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