Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

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This may sound like a strange question, but how do the local energy companies feel about people installing solar energy in their homes/offices? I think most energy providers are privately owned and some can be quite greedy, i.e. ComEd Illinois! I know the oil companies are not too happy about these new hybrid/electric cars do the energy companies feel the same way about solar power?

Comments

  • tallgirl
    tallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    Enemies.

    TXU Energy owes me for over 600KWh. They used to allow true net-metering, but stopped in December. I used to run my Outback GVFX3648's in "Sell" mode, now I use software to make when the inverters connect and disconnect to minimize selling.

    It's the fact that they can't mistreat us like other customers that makes them hate us so much.
  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    They like it for "greenwashing" but then manipulate the rates so solar grid-tie pays more !
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • Photowhit
    Photowhit Solar Expert Posts: 6,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    I'd think being imposed on the POCO would make for issues.

    I'd much rather be grid tied but the local POCO charges a $25 a month user fee before you buy (or sell) any electricity making it's cost not worth it to connect.

    The workers for the POCO here often stop and talk with me about the solar, many are curious, I needed a few feet of Ground wire and asked where there was a pole taked down so I could strip some... he just peeled me off 12 feet of new,(I needed about 4) a real nice guy.

    I wonder if the high 'line fee' is just to prevent the grid connects. I suspect that it could be challanged as "rural electric" gov money went into subsidizing electric service to rural areas. I started a thread in a another forum and while $25 is on the high end I think a county near Springfield, MO charges $32 a month! These fees appear to be going up, so perhaps there a trend to prevent small scale solar from Grid ties (or to recieve some money for the service)
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    Other than a $277 meter fee (I bought my own Time of Use meter) from my utility (PG&E, Northern California)--I only pay a minimum connection charge (includes around 30 kWhr per month minimum power charge) of $5.50 per month. Not a bad deal for an "unlimited" battery bank with no other costs.

    In the end, GT solar is a money loser for a Utility. I sell my power at $0.30 per kWhr (retail summer peak Time of Use) and buy it back at $0.09 per kWhr (off-peak)...

    Kind of like me buying 3 $1 sandwiches from the Deli at 10am and selling one of the sandwiches back during Noon Rush for $3 -- I get "free sandwiches" and the Deli is left not making any money from me.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    It all depends on who/what your local utility is.

    Some places have decent incentives for supplying grid-tie power, others don't allow it at all. Some people have to pay $0.55/kW/hr and some $0.05/kW/hr. Lots of variables across any given country. Anyone notice the lack of a coherent national energy policy? This goes for us in Canada as well!
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    The lack of "national policy" is a feature (or a flaw--depending on how one looks at the issue) of our form of constitutional republic:
    Amendment 10 - Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note


    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    Bill;

    At the time that was written, your local "power company" was the chandler. All laws can be changed, even Constitutional Amendments. And there's nothing that says the Federal Government can't establish policy guidelines which the States (or Provinces) would then adopt. It's been done before. I just think we're all being hoodwinked with this constant talk of "go green" and a lack of practical action to back it up. Note the emphasis on "practical".
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    Unfortunately, this is not a political forum (I love impassioned but respectful political discussions--I learn a lot from people I don't agree with--usually more than from people I agree with) so I will respect our host's wishes and avoid a follow-on discussion here.

    We have had a few more overtly political+energy discussions in the Skeptics, Hype, & Scams Corner sub forum...

    I can move this thread to the other forum if we want to go down that road again (the Original Poster is from China and was probably just link farming--so engaging him/her on US Constitutional discussions is probably not going to happen--generally, we try to stay within the intent of the original poster to avoid thread hijacking).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • sub3marathonman
    sub3marathonman Solar Expert Posts: 300 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?
    BB. wrote: »
    In the end, GT solar is a money loser for a Utility. I sell my power at $0.30 per kWhr (retail summer peak Time of Use) and buy it back at $0.09 per kWhr (off-peak)...

    Kind of like me buying 3 $1 sandwiches from the Deli at 10am and selling one of the sandwiches back during Noon Rush for $3 -- I get "free sandwiches" and the Deli is left not making any money from me.

    -Bill

    I still think it is more complicated than that. If the Deli can only turn out 100 sandwiches / hour, and 120 people come in at noon, and they cannot turn people away because there would be unhappy customers, they would be happy to have you there to help diminish the demand at the peak time. So too with the electric companies, who have massive generators operating at a fraction of their capacity for hours and hours, just to have them overloaded at 4 p.m. when everybody is using the A/C. There wouldn't be a need to build more generators if this peak demand could be leveled.
  • Ralph Day
    Ralph Day Solar Expert Posts: 1,019 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    Sub3,

    I think power companies see buying power at greater cost than they can sell it for (during those peaks) as not in their best interests. Can you blame them? They have massive infrastructure to upkeep, and massive debt to service...the miniscule (so far) renewable energy contributors just get lost in the shuffle. If we were a greater contributor to the total energy picture power companies might look differently on our contribution. But I won't hold my breath (so I live off grid).

    Ralph
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    Our utility power peaks can happen after 6pm--long after the mid-day peaks of solar power.

    If you look at the usage vs the peak available--you will see that utilities change their peak available power very little during the day as the "cheap plants" do not respond well to being throttled up and down.

    Also, big power plants will meet demand of the utility. Solar RE power is typically just what is available for any instant in time (we have little in the way of capability to store power at this point in time). A power plant that the utility can schedule to supply xxx megawatts of power from 4-8 pm is much more useful than looking at a wind turbine standing still and "willing it" to generate power.

    Also, even with the little amount of Wind RE power we have today, there have already been multiple instances of problems of windy days coming close to knocking out regional power grids (too much power, too little loads to use, too little line capacity to distribute). One such incident had the utilities calling the wind turbine operators and begging them to turn off some of their capacity... Between ignoring the requests and getting answering machines--the wind turbines kept operating--Obviously, because they get $0.20 - $0.45 per kWhr "sold" to the utility (and the utility only pays $0.0x per kWhr for "normal power").

    And in Denmark, where they have more wind than anyone else as part of their generation base (over 20% IIRC)--they have not shut down one coal fired plant, and there are reports that their actually CO2 output has increased because of the costs of spinning standby to backup 97% of the Wind Turbine's name plate rating because of variability of production (i.e., at best, a wind turbine can only reduce CO2 by 2-3% of its name plate rating because of the need for fossil fuel for backup power).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • tallgirl
    tallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    BB,

    Some of what you wrote is correct, and some of it is standard anti-RE propaganda.

    It's true that so-called "wind ramps" have created problems, but only because they ramp fairly fast and they just keep on going. But work has been done on the demand side (and I did some of it ...) to consume wind ramps, both up and down.

    The real key to getting the utilities to like us is getting demand response further into the grid, and using RE for peak shaving and load shifting. Excluding A/C compressor loads, 100% of my consumption from the grid is between about midnight and 7 or 8AM. Between the work I've read out of GridPoint, and the work I did with Big Blue's "Project Big Green", there is a HUGE amount of effort being expended on solving the problems of RE that don't involve spinning reserves.

    As for "spinning reserves", they aren't plants sitting at full-power, disconnected from the grid. "Spinning reserves" can also be existing plants that are operating at less than 100% power. Since spinning reserves (in the States at least) have a 15 minute response window, it's possible to get a few extra megawatts out of a plant within that window, even if it's a 1000MW coal plant.
  • Solar Guppy
    Solar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,989 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?
    tallgirl wrote: »
    BB,

    Some of what you wrote is correct, and some of it is standard anti-RE propaganda.

    Tallgirl, what you wrote is nothing more than your opinion or I took it as your own propaganda.

    BB is probably the most level headed and fact back poster here, if you have links or other information to share, please provide this for the discussion.

    You should update your signature to remove the link to selling a product.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    Thank you SG.

    TG,

    I have posted here many time before on the "facts of wind" and solar... And I am getting a bit tired of looking up new links for "my facts".

    So, let me link to a recent thread where some of this was discussed:

    Got Solar Panels? Utility Wants To Charge You For Not Using Their ...

    More than happy to continue the discussion there, or move this thread to the "Editorial" area where we can have looser moderation (we don't keep replies directly "on-topic" and a more argumentative quality to the posts stay up (still professional and respectful).

    Regarding spinning reserves and peaker plants--there are lots of ways of addressing the issues... Having a Nuke plant (or coal) cycle from 0-100-0 percent power in 15 minutes is (probably) not going to happen with existing technologies as these take a day or more to ramp up and down. Installing Natural Gas Turbine Peaker plants will only work as long as we have lots of cheap natural gas (yes, turbines can run off of other fuels too).

    Can things be done to address some of the load side of the issues--of course... Already in PG&E's area (and others I am sure too), they will install free hardware to control large loads (A/C compressors and such) that allow the utility to turn on and off the loads according to an agreed program (30 minutes off, 30 minutes on--or whatever their policy is).

    However, to change large amounts of power usage--this is going to require a change in consumers (including corporations) that we have not seen before... Is everyone ready to plan their day around when the can turn on their "loads" (lights, cooking dinner, etc.) based on power company reserves with only 24 hour notice.

    One of the simplest would be to redefine a work day to be midnight to 8 am... Would certainly alter the commercial/industrial load profile a lot (roughly, the load is 1/3 residential, 1/3 commercial, and 1/3 industrial).

    Would this be a good thing? I haven't a clue. Would it be possible in a free country? I don't know--but we appear to be on the road in California to drive our utility pricing (Smart Power, Smart Meters, Smart Billing) in that direction (or just to drive all jobs out of California) by charging 15 work day afternoon a year $0.75 per kWhr for electricity... Move next door to Arizona and pay $0.075 per kWhr for all of your power at anytime of the day or night... Hmmm

    Sure will be interesting to see how things change (foundries, chemical plants, food prep, etc.) in response to these programs.

    I will go a head and move this thread to the Editorial Forum--seems to be heading there anyway.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Photowhit
    Photowhit Solar Expert Posts: 6,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    I too, think the future of the "Grid" will be interesting to see, I suspect real over sight and control will need to be imposed to create enough flex in the system to accommodate the growing wind and solar generation, It will take and act of God (or perhaps congress will do) to only allow turbines to run at 92% (or what ever less than capacity) to allow for the flex of solar and wind.

    At what cost? The POCO will have to buy capacity from others, or run an extra gererator at greater cost to them selves, not something they are likely to do willingly.

    Can't imaging we will ever replace the generating capacity of fossil fuel plants, at best we can reduce the amount of pollution they create by replacing some of the fuel with renewable energy sources.

    I'd like to see more people off grid, only by going off grid do you really get an understanding of the cost of the light left on, or today more often it's a computer tower. And simple things, like putting hot left overs into a fridge.

    In truth I'm like every one else, I'd like more, I broke down a couple years ago and built a tiny well insulated cabin, added 800 watts to my array for the desire to have AC at night. At 1000 watts (now 1250) I can no longer claim that I'm even close to the energy consumtion of the average human on earth...

    ...ya know what, they all would like AC, hot water, refridgeration, too.

    We are truely "Infested with Humans"

    http://www.infestedwithhumans.com/
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • Roderick
    Roderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?
    BB. wrote: »
    Other than a $277 meter fee (I bought my own Time of Use meter) from my utility (PG&E, Northern California)--I only pay a minimum connection charge (includes around 30 kWhr per month minimum power charge) of $5.50 per month. Not a bad deal for an "unlimited" battery bank with no other costs.

    In the end, GT solar is a money loser for a Utility. I sell my power at $0.30 per kWhr (retail summer peak Time of Use) and buy it back at $0.09 per kWhr (off-peak)...

    Kind of like me buying 3 $1 sandwiches from the Deli at 10am and selling one of the sandwiches back during Noon Rush for $3 -- I get "free sandwiches" and the Deli is left not making any money from me.

    -Bill

    That great deal that Bill got was before there was so much solar, and PG&E decided they would lose too much money. Nowadays, we cannot buy our meter, we must lease it forever for a little over $7 a month in order to be on Time of Use. And the wonderful legacy E-7 rate was closed to new customers, although other TOU rates were made available, and existing customers were grandfathered in.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    One of the reasons I installed my system when I did was because it looked like rebates were going away and the rules would be changing.

    The E-7 was too good for solar RE... Noon to 6pm Monday thru Friday Peak Time. All else was off peak Two seasons, summer and winter. Easy to delay energy use until 6pm to make dinner, run wash, etc.

    Simple to explain to family, Peak time covered most of the time solar works.... Etc. Also, at that time, you could pick and choose any rate plan after one year (flat rate residential, TOU, etc.).

    For awhile, the new rules after I installed my system almost shut down the whole solar RE home market... E-6 is a complex plan (three tiers on summer weekdays, two tiers at different times on weekends, holidays change peak/off peak times, winter has a different set of partial and off peak rules, etc.) and was being forced on all solar RE users... Even people who were just installing a small system to see how it worked... Because of Time Of Use and their consumption patterns, the smaller users could get bigger bills than when they were on flat rate residential and no solar.

    I think E6 would have been better than E1 flat rate for me--but it was impossible to predict (would need a year of E6 metered data to compare--the plan is so complex.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • AntronX
    AntronX Solar Expert Posts: 462 ✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    Every wind turbine should come with it's own battery system for smoothing out wind variability and to give slow power plants some time to ramp up if wind just drops. This eliminates need for "dirty" peaker (shadow?) power plants. Wind systems also should be interfaced so utility can control the output directly. So far, I like large format LiFePO4 batteries for this purpose. They don't use lead, 5 times cycle life, 4 times lighter and rated for continuous duty at 0.5C (2 hour rate). Each 3 MW turbine should have 2 MWh of useful battery storage at 70% DoD and to provide maximum of 1 MW of power for 2 hours. That would be 1116 * 800Ah 3.2V cells, weigh 26.8 Tonns and will provide 5000 cycles or 10 GWh of storage service. Retail cost right now is about $1 M for batteries only and 10 GWh * 6 cents = $0.6 M. Cost should break even in the future. Then there are inverter/charger costs I did not include. I don't like lead acid batteries for this purpose because of environmental issues with recycling them, their weight and their inferior discharge rate capability. RE tech has to be able to store it's energy and not rely on existing electrical infrastructure as "battery".
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    antronx,
    did you happen to place this in the wrong thread? btw, wiki somewhat dissagrees with some of which you claim.
  • AntronX
    AntronX Solar Expert Posts: 462 ✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?
    niel wrote: »
    antronx,
    did you happen to place this in the wrong thread? btw, wiki somewhat dissagrees with some of which you claim.

    I was responding to comment 12. What does wiki disagree about?
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    It sure would be helpful if wind turbines contained / connected to some some storage medium--but even a few hours of storage is not going to help with peak shifting power by 12-24 hours...

    Regarding Lithium--It has its own issues (currently, very little known economically/ politically viable Lithium supplies).

    What ever the solutions are--it is not going to be cheap, easy, or politically safe.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    ok, i guess the thread shifted a tad and your post didn't seem to match either the topic or the posts just prior to yours so i didn't get the connection to what you were writing about.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_iron_phosphate_battery
  • stephendv
    stephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    There is a European project to use existing cold storage warehouses as batteries for wind power production: http://www.ist-world.org/ProjectDetails.aspx?ProjectId=b6fb9803097640458c13f57b0f135363

    In essence they will use excess wind power to lower the cold storage warehouses temperatures by 1 degree, and in times of peak consumption allow them to heat up by 1 degree more, effectively creating a battery with 50.000MWh capacity. More here: www.nightwind.eu
  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?
    stephendv wrote: »
    There is a European project to use existing cold storage warehouses as batteries for wind power production: http://www.ist-world.org/ProjectDetails.aspx?ProjectId=b6fb9803097640458c13f57b0f135363

    In essence they will use excess wind power to lower the cold storage warehouses temperatures by 1 degree, and in times of peak consumption allow them to heat up by 1 degree more, effectively creating a battery with 50.000MWh capacity. More here: www.nightwind.eu

    Well, I like that idea, better than 40% storages losses with pumped water or high pressure air. Not so much "storage" as "Load Shift" or balancing.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • AntronX
    AntronX Solar Expert Posts: 462 ✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    Nightwind is a genious idea. This could (should!) be done with every grocery supermarket in the States. 50 GWh is very impressive, a "battery" with unlimited cycles and 99% charge/discharge efficiency.
    I also like an idea of making ice during off-peak time and melting it to cool the house during the day.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?

    Actually, from what I have seen, it has limited applications in product refrigeration... Thermal cycling frozen foods seems to create freezer burn (cold temperature on wrapping draws water from "warm" food), thermal cycling causes stresses and can break down food (and even, I would guess, concrete floors and such). Similar issues with cycle cooling of produce and such.

    I would like to see an Ice Storage Plant (whatever the medium is; such as make ice at night, use directly or indirectly to cool buildings during the day) and how well they work/efficiency... My question is how fast can they absorb or give up heat? The phase transfer (liquid/solid) can store lots of heat--but once the solid form is reached--the actual heat transfer would seem to slow dramatically (i.e., iceberg can float for weeks in "warm" water because of the small surface area vs thermal mass).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • stephendv
    stephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
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    Re: Does the local Power Company consider us friends or Enemies?
    BB. wrote: »
    Thermal cycling frozen foods seems to create freezer burn (cold temperature on wrapping draws water from "warm" food), thermal cycling causes stresses and can break down food

    Interesting point, this is covered on the nightwind site: http://www.nightwind.eu/mediapool/48/485045/data/Food_Quality_Effects_for_Night_Wind.pdf

    Snippet:
    This study revealed that, as a rule, the food quality of frozen products subject to
    fluctuations of storage temperature is inferior as compared with food maintained at a
    constant temperature (as per the classical food refrigeration standards and good
    practices established). However, for many products (see Tables 1-21) this quality
    decay is negligible and can be offset by the obvious economic benefits, which the
    Night Wind concept can afford.