Residential Solar

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Addie
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Residential Solar

#1

Post by Addie »

NPR
To Some Solar Users, Power Company Fees Are An Unfair Charge

In Alabama's Blount County, off the highway, down a dirt road and up a hill is writer T.K. Thorne's house. She points to her roof and a shining row of black solar panels.

It's a 4-kilowatt system — pretty typical for residential solar — and Thorne got it almost four years ago hoping to help the environment and reduce her electricity bill.

It was a big investment — $8,400 even after a federal tax break. Thorne estimated how long it would take to pay off the solar system, installed the panels, and began waiting for the savings to begin.

But then she found out about a monthly $5-per-kilowatt solar fee from the state's largest utility, Alabama Power.

"That's $20 a month," Thorne says. While that doesn't sound like a lot of money, she says, it will double the time it will take her to pay off the system.

Because of the fee, 65-year-old Thorne says it'll take almost two decades to pay back her panels.

"Yes," she says and laughs, "I may not be alive."

Green energy groups say this solar fee is a key reason why, according to Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association, Alabama comes in 48th out of 50 states in residential solar capacity. (North Dakota and South Dakota trail Alabama).

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Addie
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Re: Residential Solar

#2

Post by Addie »

Electrek: Tesla launches solar rental service, can get a solar panel system for $50 per month

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Maybenaut
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Re: Residential Solar

#3

Post by Maybenaut »

We have solar. We’ve had it for about 7 years. We got the big federal tax break, plus a grant from the state (Virginia), so what would have been a $28K install ended up around 16K (I think). It’s pretty awesome.
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Re: Residential Solar

#4

Post by Northland10 »

My utility company recently sent a letter about options for going solar. it will not be of any use for me right now. First of all, I rent. Second, I do not live on the sunny side of Sunnyside.
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Addie
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Re: Residential Solar

#5

Post by Addie »

I always think of that story W4 tells about her cousin who, on sunny days, stands on his porch, with his hands on his hips, and shouts, "We're making money!" :lol:
Maybenaut wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:27 pm
We have solar. We’ve had it for about 7 years. We got the big federal tax break, plus a grant from the state (Virginia), so what would have been a $28K install ended up around 16K (I think). It’s pretty awesome.

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Maybenaut
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Re: Residential Solar

#6

Post by Maybenaut »

Addie wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 7:36 am
I always think of that story W4 tells about her cousin who, on sunny days, stands on his porch, with his hands on his hips, and shouts, "We're making money!" :lol:
Maybenaut wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:27 pm
We have solar. We’ve had it for about 7 years. We got the big federal tax break, plus a grant from the state (Virginia), so what would have been a $28K install ended up around 16K (I think). It’s pretty awesome.
:lol:

We’re never going to make money. We have a passive system - the power we generate goes to the grid, and the power we use comes from the grid. We have a total of 18 panels that generate about 80 percent of the energy we use. But I can stand on my stoop and shout “We’re saving money!”
"Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus. So if we don't get some cool rules ourselves, pronto, we'll just be bogus too." - Thomas Jefferson

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Whatever4
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Re: Residential Solar

#7

Post by Whatever4 »

Addie wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 7:36 am
I always think of that story W4 tells about her cousin who, on sunny days, stands on his porch, with his hands on his hips, and shouts, "We're making money!" :lol:
Maybenaut wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:27 pm
We have solar. We’ve had it for about 7 years. We got the big federal tax break, plus a grant from the state (Virginia), so what would have been a $28K install ended up around 16K (I think). It’s pretty awesome.
:lovestruck:
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Re: Residential Solar

#8

Post by Jeffrey »

Paul’s Hardware, a Tech YouTube channel has posted an update on his residential solar install. He estimates 12 year pay off on the system.


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Foggy
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Re: Residential Solar

#9

Post by Foggy »

We had a solar guy who knocked on our door last spring. We let him in and listened to a long pitch ... but our roof faces due east and west. No southern exposure. Tall trees on three sides of the house. He sent some techs to look at us, and we never heard from him again. :blackeye:
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ZekeB
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Re: Residential Solar

#10

Post by ZekeB »

Twelve year payoff? Is that including the lost investment opportunity of those dollars spent? I'm wondering if the cells have a 12 year lifespan. Does this include routine maintenance? You can't just put it up and never touch it again. The batteries would need replacement a couple of times in that 12 year period. I've never seen solar with a positive return unless there were energy credits involved.

I'm more than familiar with solar. I've used it for remote locations where it was prohibitively expensive to run power lines. That was the only place I saw where it had potential.
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Re: Residential Solar

#11

Post by RoadScholar »

The technology has improved. Lithium batteries have a longer lifespan, and the cells (or sheets, now) are more efficient. Just ten years ago I would have agreed with you about the hardware.

A lot of the cost (as you know) is installation labor. Not much you can do about that.
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Re: Residential Solar

#12

Post by Dave at Sea »

Power company helping customers to go off grid

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-10- ... s/11572762

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Re: Residential Solar

#13

Post by Jeffrey »

Californians Learning That Solar Panels Don’t Work in Blackouts
https://news.bloombergenvironment.com/e ... -blackouts

This was a topic of discussion after Maria. If you don't have a battery, solar panels won't work at all during a blackout. (With the exception of some inverters that have allow for power output without a battery)

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RoadScholar
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Re: Residential Solar

#14

Post by RoadScholar »

I have never met anyone stupid enough to have solar panels without a bank of batteries.

I’m just sayin’.
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tek
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Re: Residential Solar

#15

Post by tek »

I doubt anyone around here has batteries with their residential solar system..
I know none of the half-dozen neighbors with solar I talk to have them.
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Lani
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Re: Residential Solar

#16

Post by Lani »

In Hawaii, a lot of us have solar for hot water. It pays off very quickly, including tax credits, and isn't dependent on electricity.

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Re: Residential Solar

#17

Post by BBFlatt »

I recently installed a grid-tied rooftop solar system with no battery bank. When I talked to the contractor about the possibility of adding batteries they told me I'd be better off getting a generator.

I'm in west-central Florida, and in the 18 years we've been in this house I think there have been 2 power outages that lasted more than about 4 hours. We were out of town for one of them, the second was after Hurricane Irma when we were without power for a week.

Being without power for an extended period is unpleasant, but financially we only lost maybe a couple hundred bucks in food spoilage. Spending five grand or more on batteries or a whole house generator doesn't seem worth it given the infrequency of the need for them.

If we needed to store perishable medical supplies like insulin the calculus would be different. YMMV

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Re: Residential Solar

#18

Post by ZekeB »

If you consider the north where the temperatures go well below zero regularly, BBFlat, you'd see where a generator would be necessary. I've seen power knocked out for over a week in sub-zero weather and food spoilage is the least of concern in that situation. I have natural gas, but it's of no use without electricity. The water pipes will freeze. The house becomes uninhabitable. You're talking mega bucks to restore the house.
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Re: Residential Solar

#19

Post by BBFlatt »

Zeke, you are quite correct. We have a natural gas furnace and water heater. The furnace requires electricity to function, but we seldom need it, especially during hurricane season. The gas water heater needs no electric, and the ability to take hot showers during that week long power outage was a godsend.

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Re: Residential Solar

#20

Post by RoadScholar »

We have a number of friends with no-grid homesteads, and they all have battery banks. That could be the story... they have no access to natural gas, and are a long way from places to get fuel for generators.

One has the best design for water use I’ve ever seen. It’s on several levels running down a hillside. Above the house is a water catchment, and the bath and kitchen use the water first. (They have passive solar water heating too.) The gray water is dripped down to planters, and the plants eventually use nearly all the water.

Roof overhangs prevent the sun from hitting the black thermal mass walls built just interior of the windows in summer, but as the sun gets lower toward winter it hits more of the black walls.

I have no idea why you’d spend a bunch to get solar panels, put them on a house that cost a pretty sum, but then not spring for batteries and a smart charging system. Night time? Cloudy days? Batteries come in handy.

It’s a free country, but that makes no sense to me. I guess if you are on a grid that gives you credit for excess power, the grid is sort of acting as your batteries, so there’s that.
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tek
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Re: Residential Solar

#21

Post by tek »

With net metering, you sell your excess energy to the power company when the sun is out, and draw from the grid when there isn't enough solar... so, other than the case of a grid outage, a battery isn't much of an advantage.

Some utilities around here (usually municipals) don't do net metering, and residential solar penetration is usually very small in these areas.
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BBFlatt
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Re: Residential Solar

#22

Post by BBFlatt »

The return on investment on my solar project is pretty good; we have the benefit of net metering, and our electric rates are pretty high, thanks in part to Duke Energy billing rate payers about $3 Billion for repairs to a nuclear plant that they decided to abandon.

The 30% federal income tax credit helps too.

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Re: Residential Solar

#23

Post by Jeffrey »

tek wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:01 am
With net metering, you sell your excess energy to the power company when the sun is out, and draw from the grid when there isn't enough solar... so, other than the case of a grid outage, a battery isn't much of an advantage.
What this guy said. If there's no power outage, the battery doesn't help you at all. It just increases how long it takes until your install can break even.

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Re: Residential Solar

#24

Post by Addie »

Quartz
California’s new building codes will make solar panels the next home appliance ...

It’s a quiet revolution tucked into the building codes approved unanimously by the California Energy Commission (CEC) in 2018. Solar panels are installed on just 20% of new homes in the state. That figure will rise to 100% for every home under four stories tall (with a few exceptions; pdf). The CEC expects this to add 74,000 new solar installations in 2020. By comparison, there were 127,000 residential photovoltaic systems installed in 2017, many on existing homes. Community solar programs approved under the new mandate will add even more.

Generating your own electricity is still a luxury for most homeowners, despite residential solar costs falling 23% over the last five years. Overnight, though, California’s new building codes have turned them into a fixture as standard as a front door. “There are 100,000 customers annually that will see the acquisition of solar as a normal part of their home transaction,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, head of the Solar Energy Industries Association, to Greentech Media. “I can’t overstate how strongly I feel about normalizing the solar experience so it feels less risky to the consumer.”

Homebuilders are already moving in that direction. PulteGroup, one of the nation’s largest constructors of homes, built its first zero-net-energy home four years to prepare for the 2020 regulations. Its CEO Ryan Marshall told investors in 2018 that the $10.4 billion company was moving toward solar as standard. “Our communities in Southern California have had solar as a standard feature for the last year-plus,” he told investors in an earnings call according to investment research firm Sentieo. “As we move into Northern California, we’re about half-and-half. Not all [multifamily, 3- and 4-story buildings] have solar today, but they will over time.”

The cost of the solar systems—about $8,400 per unit on average (pdf)—will be offset by long-term savings, predicts the CEC. Builders are rolling the installation costs into 25-year leases so buyers do not pay upfront. The CEC estimates solar systems add $40 per more in monthly mortgage payment but save about $80 on electricity bills each month.

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Re: Residential Solar

#25

Post by NMgirl »

:like: :like: :like:

As with so many advances, CA shows the rest of us the way.

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