Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

Options
RSSfeed
RSSfeed Registered Users Posts: 3,810 ✭✭
feature-0-1375723367422.png California is no stranger to rolling blackouts. When Charles and Elke Hewitt installed a solar electric system with batteries for emergency backup power on their home this April, they were shocked when Southern California Edison rejected their application for grid connection under their net metering program. And the Hewitt family was not alone. Soon all homeowners with solar electric systems with battery backup in California could be affected by Edison’s stance on backup power.

More...
«1

Comments

  • ChrisOlson
    ChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

    I don't know if people are supposed to reply to these RSS Feeds or not, but I will anyway.

    These people that are going round and round about not being able to use the system they have put in are wrong. These systems can be used without net metering to offset daily loads and reduce the utility bill. All it takes is somebody setting up the system that knows what they're doing. IMHO you're better off without net metering anyway. The less you have to do with utility companies, and that includes paying the bill, the better life is.
    --
    Chris
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

    Chris;

    Actually in one thread on the forum a person was being denied the connection at all due to the system having batteries (the utility's reasoning was totally unsound) and as yet this hasn't been resolved.

    Further to that, there should be no difference between a standard GT system and one that has battery back-up as far as any utility is concerned. When it comes to selling to the grid they function the same. The notion that people will be "time shifting" power is not real as it is economically unfeasible in most cases. Putting in a GT system with batteries and not being able to sell back to the grid is a waste of investment. In areas where such systems are in place there are no reported problems of functionality at all.

    More and more we are seeing instances of utilities being against solar power in general, as that is power generation they have no control over. Evidently there are enough installs now to attract their attention even though the total generated is as yet still a mere blip compared to the amount of power they handle. They don't have a plan for the future that includes solar generation and they are taking steps early on to exclude it.
  • ChrisOlson
    ChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    Actually in one thread on the forum a person was being denied the connection at all due to the system having batteries (the utility's reasoning was totally unsound) and as yet this hasn't been resolved.

    Yes, and I realize all that you say is true about that. But what I'm saying is why let their refusal to give you a grid sell-back or net metering agreement ruin the whole thing? Just hook it up and run it anyway without selling back to the utility. Use it for Load Shaving during the day and reduce your bill as much as possible with it instead of leaving it set there and saying it can't be used. The utility can't do a darn thing about you generating your own power - all they can control is whether or not they'll let you sell it to them. But that doesn't stop anybody from using it in their own home.
    --
    Chris
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

    AHJ & Utility say "no" then the system doesn't become operational, even if you demonstrate it will not sell back to the grid. In places like California & Arizona where you need a permit for everything even the option of a separate, entirely off-grid system can be regulated into non-existence. It's idiotic, but it can happen.
  • ChrisOlson
    ChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    In places like California & Arizona where you need a permit for everything even the option of a separate, entirely off-grid system can be regulated into non-existence. It's idiotic, but it can happen.

    I know it can be, but it's not at present. We know two couples that live off-grid in Arizona, and one that lives off-grid in California. They cannot do one single thing about putting in a system that is not hooked to the grid. All you have to do is split out the circuits in your house that you want to run with it and put them in a separate sub-panel. And if they have a cow about using the inverter's AC input because it's hooked to their grid, then put in a external transfer switch.

    I mean, the one couple in that article has a 1.8 kW system. We all know that's not going to sell back enough to "buy" your sold electricity back off the grid at night anyway. But you can still hook it all up and use it during the day to run what I'll run - and you have the battery backup when the power goes out.

    If doing this is now illegal in California, then I suggest that it's time somebody light it on fire, burn it to the ground and start over (and I'm talking the whole state).
    --
    Chris
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

    An entirely off-grid system is not what the complaint is about; it's about trying to get a battery back-up GT system install. Once you (innocently) start the process the eyes are on you. If you could do it without them knowing, they wouldn't know; not likely they could tell the difference between the hybrid and the standard just by function!
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    If doing this is now illegal in California, then I suggest that it's time somebody light it on fire, burn it to the ground and start over (and I'm talking the whole state).
    --
    Chris

    You know, there are a number of people who live in Calif who express pretty much those views - and they worry about being arrested on suspicion of starting wildfires. :p
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,532 admin
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    If doing this is now illegal in California, then I suggest that it's time somebody light it on fire, burn it to the ground and start over (and I'm talking the whole state).
    --
    Chris

    Technically, it is illegal to put solar panels on your home (even with "permits") and generate your own power and run your appliances off grid. And I would have to pay to depart the grid (go off grid)... In either case, we may have to pay the utility to generate/use our own power. And in some locations, it may be illegal to live in a place without utility power. We discussed that last March in this thread:

    The Solar Surcharge


    There was also a discussion where it is about impossible to put a foundation in to run a backup/off grid generator in parts of California (due to pollution and probably carbon controls).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • ChrisOlson
    ChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    BB. wrote: »
    Technically, it is illegal to put solar panels on your home (even with "permits") and generate your own power and run your appliances off grid. And I would have to pay to depart the grid (go off grid)... In either case, we may have to pay the utility to generate/use our own power.

    Really. Well, do Californians know the dictionary definition of the word "revolt"? And no, I'm not talking about buying a replacement electric Chevy.

    re·volt [ri-vohlt]
    verb
    1. to break away from or rise against constituted authority, as by open rebellion; cast off allegiance or subjection to those in authority; rebel; mutiny: to revolt against the present government.
    --
    Chris
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,532 admin
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

    The state is gone--Stick a fork in it. They cannot even keep Ranger Smith + Yogi and BooBoo Bear operating with scandals.
    Julie Packard and other California leaders will revamp imperiled parks

    SACRAMENTO -- A group of California business, education and nonprofit leaders -- including Monterey Bay Aquarium founding director Julie Packard -- have agreed to help revamp the state parks system in an effort to restore confidence and financial stability to an institution rocked by scandal.

    The dozen volunteers will spend the next 18 months addressing the problems that led to the state threatening to close 70 of the 280 parks in the system after long years of funding shortages -- and more recent revelations that now-departed leaders socked money in a secret fund.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

    Careful folks...emember the rules!

    T
  • jaggedben
    jaggedben Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    AHJ & Utility say "no" then the system doesn't become operational, even if you demonstrate it will not sell back to the grid. In places like California & Arizona where you need a permit for everything even the option of a separate, entirely off-grid system can be regulated into non-existence. It's idiotic, but it can happen.

    It's not AHJs that are saying no. It's only the utility. Chris' point has some validity. I am only doubtful that in most cases enough energy can be stored by the batteries that load shaving will be economical.

    It would be interesting to note whether the utility is applying the rule to all battery systems or has done their homework on the different products. For example, their logic cannot apply to the Sunny Island system, which is incapable of exporting energy from the batteries to the grid. Only Outback inverters are mentioned in the article, which are capable of charging batteries from a generator and then exporting that energy to the grid.

    In short, the utility is being a complete !@#$ but their new policy has probably always been legally valid.
  • ggunn
    ggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    jaggedben wrote: »
    ...their logic cannot apply to the Sunny Island system, which is incapable of exporting energy from the batteries to the grid.
    That may not be true. I posted that point in another thread and was informed by someone who apparently knows the Sunny Island far better than I there is indeed a way to get the SI to discharge its batteries into the grid. I have set up a SI several times and never saw that capability, but I never looked for it. The Sunny Island is a complex beast; he could be right.
  • ChrisOlson
    ChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    jaggedben wrote: »
    It's not AHJs that are saying no. It's only the utility. Chris' point has some validity. I am only doubtful that in most cases enough energy can be stored by the batteries that load shaving will be economical.

    I'm thinking it would be more economical to use your available solar power during the day than to leave the system set there claiming you can't use it. If you use the inverter and solar to offset daytime loads, at least you get some use out of your system while the big battle is going on with the power company about whether or not they're going to let you net meter it.
    --
    Chris
  • ggunn
    ggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    I'm thinking it would be more economical to use your available solar power during the day than to leave the system set there claiming you can't use it. If you use the inverter and solar to offset daytime loads, at least you get some use out of your system while the big battle is going on with the power company about whether or not they're going to let you net meter it.
    --
    Chris
    Isn't the point of the OP that the utility is not allowing interconnection at all?
  • ChrisOlson
    ChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

    I don't think so. Just that they won't let them net meter it. Federal law in the US requires utillities to allow people to connect solar and small wind systems to the utility. But that doesn't mean the utility can't come up with stipulations that make it not practical (like they do here with a big net metering monthly charge on the bill). But to my knowledge, nobody can prevent you from hooking up a UL listed device to utility power and using it in your own home.
    --
    Chris
  • northerner
    northerner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    BB. wrote: »
    Technically, it is illegal to put solar panels on your home (even with "permits") and generate your own power and run your appliances off grid. And I would have to pay to depart the grid (go off grid)... In either case, we may have to pay the utility to generate/use our own power. And in some locations, it may be illegal to live in a place without utility power. We discussed that last March in this thread:

    The Solar Surcharge


    There was also a discussion where it is about impossible to put a foundation in to run a backup/off grid generator in parts of California (due to pollution and probably carbon controls).

    -Bill

    Lawn cutting with lawn mowers produces far more pollution and CO2 emissions than the occasional generator backup from a solar system. Solar systems would actually cut the amount of pollution and CO2 emissions. Perhaps they should be banning lawns too!!!
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,532 admin
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    northerner wrote: »
    Lawn cutting with lawn mowers produces far more pollution and CO2 emissions than the occasional generator backup from a solar system. Solar systems would actually cut the amount of pollution and CO2 emissions. Perhaps they should be banning lawns too!!!

    Oh... Has been proposed by many local government agencies here over the years--Mostly because of limited water supplies (water wars is a big California issue and is killing central valley farms) and because of run-off (fertilizer and soil+salts run-off into streams and lakes).

    It is probably just a matter of time we will have to go with native species (drought tolerant) landscaping (have seen that requirement in commercial building permits sometimes).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • ggunn
    ggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    I don't think so. Just that they won't let them net meter it. Federal law in the US requires utillities to allow people to connect solar and small wind systems to the utility. But that doesn't mean the utility can't come up with stipulations that make it not practical (like they do here with a big net metering monthly charge on the bill). But to my knowledge, nobody can prevent you from hooking up a UL listed device to utility power and using it in your own home.
    --
    Chris
    This is the somewhat ambiguous statement which appeared to me to mean that they could not interconnect at all:

    "...Southern California Edison rejected their application for grid connection under their net metering program."
  • NorthGuy
    NorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    northerner wrote: »
    Lawn cutting with lawn mowers produces far more pollution and CO2 emissions than the occasional generator backup from a solar system.

    My lawn mower produces zero emissions!
  • ChrisOlson
    ChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    ggunn wrote: »
    This is the somewhat ambiguous statement which appeared to me to mean that they could not interconnect at all:

    "...Southern California Edison rejected their application for grid connection under their net metering program."

    Well, I read that too. But I don't read that to say that they can't hook up their system in a Load Shaving configuration and just not sell back to the grid. The inverter is fully legal UL1741 so it can be hooked to a subpanel to power loads in the home, hook grid power to its input and use it to offset utility usage. I don't care what any inspector says, or the utility company, it is completely legal and code compliant. If they tell you you can't do that, I would have no qualms about taking it to court and I know I would win - and tell the inspector and utility company they can kiss my southern region.
    --
    Chris
  • techntrek
    techntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    ... and tell the inspector and utility company they can kiss my southern region.

    Florida?

    :p
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • northerner
    northerner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    NorthGuy wrote: »
    My lawn mower produces zero emissions!

    Plus you don't live in California, so you have nothing to worry about. How about your snowblower?:p
  • jaggedben
    jaggedben Solar Expert Posts: 230 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    I don't think so. Just that they won't let them net meter it. Federal law in the US requires utillities to allow people to connect solar and small wind systems to the utility. But that doesn't mean the utility can't come up with stipulations that make it not practical (like they do here with a big net metering monthly charge on the bill). But to my knowledge, nobody can prevent you from hooking up a UL listed device to utility power and using it in your own home.
    --
    Chris

    What federal law? I'd like to know what that is.

    Also, an AHJ can prevent you from hooking up a UL listed device if your installation is not up to code. But, point taken, that's regardless of what the utility says.
    ggunn wrote: »
    This is the somewhat ambiguous statement which appeared to me to mean that they could not interconnect at all:

    "...Southern California Edison rejected their application for grid connection under their net metering program."

    I think what Chris is suggesting is to never use the grid-tie features of your equipment. In which case you don't need to notify the utility that you're doing anything, because you will never export electricity, and thus don't need a net meter. As long as the AHJ signs off on the installation, there may be no legal problem with this. No different than installing a UPS or backup generator, which doesn't require utility approval or NEM.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,532 admin
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

    But in California, if you install any power generation on site, the State PUC regulations say the customer must pay departing load fees. And there are exemptions--But they also are based on other California regulations/eligibility...

    Have "they" gone after anyone that installed a solar off grid system and pulled the plug? I do not know.

    If the number of people going off utility power becomes a "significant number" (say over ~1% in a region)--I bet they will start looking.

    Basically, that is what you are (probably) seeing with Hybrid power installations... Yes, they have allowed them for many years, but now are looking to stop home/distributed power--And the first way they can is by saying that batteries are non-RE "generators". That, of course, is ridiculous... But, I would guess, is they don't want to get into the whole batteries charged by solar power is OK and batteries charged by cheap off-grid power is not green (and brokering power--by utility power at $0.09 per kWH and sell at $0.30 per kWH on summer afternoons). That is even more difficult to "regulated" (how do would they know if night time power is charging a battery bank vs charging an electric car/doing the wash/etc. without multiple revenue meters on each major power path). Preventing net metering connection makes hybrid solar less cost effective. Will it kill the market--I don't know.

    The utilities just want to stop distributed solar now that it has reached >1% of their power market. And killing hybrid inverter connections by utilities has been used successfully, years ago, in Europe.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • NorthGuy
    NorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    northerner wrote: »
    Plus you don't live in California, so you have nothing to worry about. How about your snowblower?:p

    Ultra green "Shovel" type :p
  • ChrisOlson
    ChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    jaggedben wrote: »
    What federal law? I'd like to know what that is.

    The Energy Policy Act of 2005
    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-109publ58/pdf/PLAW-109publ58.pdf
    --
    Chris
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,532 admin
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    ChrisOlson wrote: »

    One of those 551 page laws that you have to pass to find out what is in it (yes, I know this was before Nancy Pelosi was speaker of the house).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • ChrisOlson
    ChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    BB. wrote: »
    But in California, if you install any power generation on site, the State PUC regulations say the customer must pay departing load fees. And there are exemptions--But they also are based on other California regulations/eligibility...

    They might be able to get away with that in California. But if they ever tried that around here the troops would mobilize, fully armed, and the state capital would be burning the next day. Basically what you have in California is a bunch of Fat Cats trying to sustain an unsustainable system. Rumor around here has it that there's a big crack in the United States there someplace and California is going to bust off and fall into the ocean, solving 90% of the problems in the whole world. You can ask anybody around here about California and that's the first thing they'll tell you :D
    --
    Chris
  • vtmaps
    vtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,741 ✭✭✭✭
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?
    BB. wrote: »
    But in California, if you install any power generation on site, the State PUC regulations say the customer must pay departing load fees.

    There must be some minimum size system before the regulations kick in... what is the departing load fee if you buy a solar powered calculator or solar powered wrist watch? --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,532 admin
    Options
    Re: Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

    It used to be 10 kW maximum solar array... Back in the other thread, it is now not so clear:

    http://www.pge.com/en/myhome/myaccou...oad/index.page
    If you believe your generating facility should be exempt from some or all of these charges, you will need to complete an Application for Customer Generation Cost Responsibility Surcharge Tariff Exemption (PDF, 80 KB). A completed application must be sent to both PG&E, to determine tariff exemption eligibility, and to the California Energy Commission (CEC) to execute its responsibilities with regard to managing the statewide megawatt cap. PG&E will first make a provisional determination as to whether the generating facility qualifies for available exemptions. You need not submit an application if the customer generation system is "clean" (including net-metered systems), under 1 megawatt (mw), and eligible for participation in either the CPUC's self-generation incentive program or similar CEC program.
    If you believe your facility should be exempt from the CTC, you must submit an Affidavit in Support of Claim of Competition Transition Charge Exemption Under Public Utilities Code Section 372 (PDF, 52 KB). However, if you complete an application, you need only sign the affidavit and attach the application. The affidavit should be submitted to PG&E with your notification letter.
    Likewise, if you believe your facility should be exempt from the DWR Power Charge, you must submit an Affidavit in Support of Claim of DWR Power Charge Exemption Under Public Utilities Code Section 353.2 (PDF, 54 KB). However, if you complete an application, you need only sign the affidavit and attach the application. This affidavit should also be submitted to PG&E with your notification letter.

    What does that "really mean"... I don't know.

    -Bill "gallows humor" B.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset