Blindsided by PG&E with true up bill $7K when Solar company failed to inform us system failed!

Bagobolts08Bagobolts08 Posts: 2Registered Users
Mom had bought a grid tie 10 Kilowatt system by Enphase  consisting of [email protected] Upsolar M250-PB, [email protected] Enphase M215-60-2ll-S2x! Monitoring Enlighten/ Lifetime. The system worked fine for a few months had a couple of problems with internet connection Solar Company called each time to troubleshoot! Got the connection fixed had one call breakers had flipped! No other communication! Received true up bill 2017 for $6900+  PG&E disconnected power(1 true up bill of $2400 1 year 6 mo in I was not informed of paid) Apparently Solar System had many months of 0 - 4 watts production! Solar company never informed us of the failure, though they said otherwise, resulting in the true up bill amount! Blindsided! My Mother not tech savvy did not understand how to read the monitor and I had no idea of problem! Mom passed away last December and I took over the estate the payment made by her in 20015 was never mentioned since I would have gone ballistic and she wanted to avoid that however that might have alluded to the greater problem to investigate! Just did research because of the disconnection into grid tie and off grid! I had told her to go off grid! I have no power, can't pay the amount, Solar company can't and won't fix anything til power on! I am looking in to converting to Off grid! Read the Enphase drawbacks as far as the conversion, need options! I am having to run a Generator with the Solar system Isolated by turning breakers off! Besides Battery bank what kind of equipment is needed to wire my way out of PG&E's control? Any advice on complete predicament solution would be greatly appreciated! The Domino principle set in motion may cause me to lose the house which had only the Solar System attached to the mortgage! 


  • Bagobolts08Bagobolts08 Posts: 2Registered Users
    Before paying PG&E that amount I would invest in the conversion! House was free and clear til putting loan against it for the Solar System!
  • cow_ranchercow_rancher Posts: 108Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Hmmmm, Grid tie without monthly billing from PG&E for amount not fed back into the Grid?  Sounds like your Mother thought she could throw the Elec bills away?

  • BB.BB. Posts: 28,137Super Moderators, Administrators admin
    Generally, the GT solar bills from PG&E do list how much energy you use (and excess generated to) from the grid. Granted, the ~3 pages of billing information is not in a very friendly format (especially for their older customers).

    What has happened/what would I have recommended--It is not of any use to you now (to others reading--If you are older/plan on leaving the home in 7 years or less, get some help to look at the pros and cons before buying a grid tied solar power system--They do work, but gt systems require monitoring, possibly maintenance, and a good rate plan to "save/make" money/economic sense).

    Your mother's issue was the GT solar is totally transparent to the end user... If the system is working or not, the lights and appliances work the same (just fine). The only way to know if the system has failed, is to check the monitoring system and electrical bill every month.

    For you--About the only thing you may have going for you is the monitoring system and if the contract with the installer talks about monitoring/maintaining the system. Possibly, if you can find a public advocate/lawyer to review the contract and sales methods--But since she has already died, this may be a difficult task to get going (short of you hiring a lawyer).

    Assuming that the contract did not include "professional monitoring" (i.e., your mother had to monitor the system functions), it sounds like it would be difficult to get a lawyer and a positive legal result (for you).

    The 2nd best outcome may be for you to negotiate with PG&E (if you are over ~50-60 years old yourself, perhaps you can get some free legal help with PG&E). Possibly arranging for a 1 year repayment plan or similar (just guessing, I am not a lawyer). PG&E will need the bill paid unless you can convince them about the confusion for a little old lady in poor health even having a solar power system in the first place.

    So, going off grid--Will probably not remove the debt with PG&E by itself. And off grid power is usually more expensive than Utility power. More or less, utility power is ~$0.20 to $0.30 per kWH (California)--Off grid solar power (solar=>charge controller=>battery bank=>AC inverter) typically runs around $1.00 to $2.00+ per kWH.... It can be less (you have to work hard and know what you are doing) or it could be more (it is not hard to "murder" the expensive battery bank by over discharging/under charging/etc.).

    In general, if you use less than ~100 kWH per month, you MAY save money going off grid solar (fixed costs for rural lines to isolated home, etc.). If you use >500 kWH per month--that is a large off grid solar power system and will exceed the $7,000 PG&E power bill (by a lot).

    At this point, the power bill sounds high ($580 per month for electricity?). Getting a handle on the home's loads, and looking at conservation would be a first step.

    Also, looking at getting the existing GT system repaired can help too in reducing the power bill... Do you know what "failed"?

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 4,120Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    If the home is in an area with PG & E homes near and not totally rural, it would be a major mistake to try and go offgrid, if you could.
     The house will not be marketable and you will have more trouble than you do now. Read Bill's post above again :)

    Find the money and sell the house if it has value. If no value... More info from you here will only get you better advise!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
    E-mail [email protected]

  • SunGodSunGod Posts: 2Registered Users
    The breaker may have been turned of manually also, but either was getting a surprise bill like that is terrible!

    If the system is installed, it should be working.  To find out, just flip the solar array breaker to "on" then after 5 minutes the system should be working.  If not, email Enphase the serial number of the Envoy (thats the little box that the inverters reports to) and they should be able to find out.  (It does need internet access).  The meter should go backwards.
    But either way, even if you take the Envoy home and plug it into the internet to report you should be able to login to the account too find out and the solar array should be able to produce energy without it there (but it does collect data :) )
    You may also need to clean the panels.
    As for other responses all great ones, just don't spend extra money you don't have! That's the point of the solar array. 

    Good Luck!

  • solarvicsolarvic Posts: 1,049Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Sun God. The GT inverters will not operate since the power co. disconnected the power. 
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