CALIFORNIA Grid-Tie interconnect glitch FIXED !

mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,239 ✭✭✭✭✭
- update - new bill fixed this - nearly overnight !
http://www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov/


from Slash Dot & LA Times

CA Solar Use Falling Because of Economics
http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/09/1241243

Rebate rule chills sales of solar
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-solar8may08,0,3494064.story

Slashdot article first, then the LA Times ( times has subscription site )

---

"The LA Time reports that California is seeing a big drop off in rebate applications for solar power systems. It seems that to get a rebate you have to also switch to a time of use rate with your utility. The math is not working out, especially for smaller systems that don't fully cover use during peak hours. The result: homeowners are reluctant to go with solar energy. 'The difference between peak and off-peak rates is particularly large in the 11 counties of Central, coastal and Southern California, where Edison provides electricity service to 13 million customers. Edison charges summer time-of-use rates that range from 29.7 to 35.9 cents per kilowatt-hour between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. It drops to a range of 16.3 to 18.6 cents per kilowatt-hour from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. weekdays and all weekend days and holidays, according to documents filed with the PUC.' There is likely an optimal system size that reduces consumer costs, but with things in flux you'd want some flexibility in your system."

Rebate rule chills sales of solar
Installers fear collapse as many homeowners choose to avoid associated higher utility costs.
By Marc Lifsher
Times Staff Writer

May 8, 2007

SACRAMENTO — California homeowners are rejecting new rebates for solar power equipment, saying the state has made installing the rooftop panels far more costly than expected.

As a result, Public Utilities Commission reports show a decline of 78% in rebate requests in the first three months of this year, compared with last year, and the solar installation industry says it is threatened with collapse across much of California.

At issue is a requirement the state added Jan. 1 for getting a rebate under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Million Solar Roofs program. Applicants must first sign up for costly pricing plans offered by utilities that charge more for their electricity during hours of peak demand.

Alfred Cellier had plans to install a $17,000 solar system at his Rancho Palos Verdes home until he penciled out the cost of the new state requirements and decided against it.

The retired electronics engineer said he was all for solar power "because it's green and the right thing to do, but I don't want to be treated unfairly."

Sue Kateley, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Assn., said the rebate changes backfired. "It's a mess," she said. "It was everyone's intent to expand the use of solar in California, not throw it into the ditch."

Many homeowners quickly decided that it might not be worth going solar under the new requirements. The costs would be burdensome for those who couldn't afford or lacked the roof space to buy systems that would supply all of their electricity needs.

The unintended glitch was created in December, when the PUC moved to implement the law by requiring that solar users switch to the higher "time of use" rates for their supplemental electricity.

Industry experts say that with the higher rates, solar power offers less savings on electricity bills and may not justify the investment of more than $10,000 in solar panels — even with a rebate of as much as 50% of the cost and a federal tax credit.

What's worse, some people in the Inland Empire and the desert might see their bills rise after putting solar panels on their roofs, the experts add.

"The solar industry in the desert in the Southern California Edison territory is dead until this thing is fixed," said Pat Conlon, an energy-efficiency expert with the city of Palm Desert. "As of Jan. 1, there have been no new installs."

He said a YMCA in Palm Desert decided against a solar system after managers concluded that future savings on electricity would not cover the cost of installing the rooftop panels.

Under the new program, homeowners filed rebate applications for systems generating 1,415 kilowatts of solar power statewide in the first three months of this year. A year earlier under the previous program, the state approved applications totaling 6,417 kilowatts.

Embarrassed state officials are scrambling to fix the problem.

"The fact that some customers may find themselves paying higher electricity bills if they decide to install solar … is unfortunate and indeed perverse," California PUC President Michael R. Peevey said in a recent letter to legislators.

"It's sort of a screw-up," said solar advocate V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology in Sacramento.

On the hot seat is Schwarzenegger, who in August signed legislation that sought to provide $3 billion in rebates over 10 years to boost the use of nonpolluting solar power.

Only last month, he bragged about his California Solar Initiative in an Earth Day radio address — with no mention of its lack of early success.

Bill Maile, a spokesman for the governor, conceded that the solar program was flawed. The administration is considering asking the Legislature to quickly pass a law that would make solar power more affordable, he said.

The governor also asked the PUC to work with the state's three investor-owned utilities to come up with "a properly designed rate structure" that doesn't penalize solar owners, Maile said.

Time-of-use electricity rates are higher during hours of peak demand, such as hot summer afternoons, and much lower in the early morning, late evening and at night.

The difference between peak and off-peak rates is particularly large in the 11 counties of Central, coastal and Southern California, where Edison provides electricity service to 13 million customers.

Edison charges summer time-of-use rates that range from 29.7 to 35.9 cents per kilowatt-hour between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. It drops to a range of 16.3 to 18.6 cents per kilowatt-hour from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. weekdays and all weekend days and holidays, according to documents filed with the PUC.

Edison's time-of-use rates are a problem for solar households that can't produce enough energy to make them self-sufficient, industry experts say.

"We've come to the conclusion that we can no longer sell to a good percentage of potential clients because they don't have a roof that is big enough," said Patrick Redgate, owner of Ameco, a Long Beach solar installation company with 33 years in the business. "This is kind of a punishment for people going solar."

Another installer, Gordon Bloom, executive vice president of GenSelf Corp. in Irvine, said he had been forced to lay off two employees after doubling his workforce in 2006. "Residential sales in the Edison territory are down 75%, and I've only gotten eight new jobs this year," he said.

The solar industry in March petitioned the PUC to reverse its decision on rates.

Action can't come soon enough for the already strapped solar installation industry, said consultant Glenn Harris. Harris says that the residential market in California could collapse in 100 days if high electricity rates scare potential customers away from buying rooftop solar systems.

"If they don't make sales in the next two or three months, they'll have to lay their guys off and say, 'I'm sorry,' " he said.

For its part, Southern California Edison says a short-term fix would require that the Legislature and PUC abandon current time-of-use rates. "The only way that this can be resolved so that nobody gets a higher rate than would otherwise be the case would be to make time-of-use rates optional," said Akbar Jazayeri, Edison's vice president for revenue and tariffs.

Time-of-use rates are constraining solar sales but are less of a problem in the areas served by California's other investor-owned utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric, analysts say. Ratepayers at publicly owned utilities, such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, are not affected by the PUC rate ruling and operate their own solar installation incentive programs.

Solar installation firms, environmentalists and government officials are dumbfounded that the much-lauded solar program has had such a rough start.

"These are very real problems," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, a lobbyist for Environment California. "Nobody foresaw the outcome would be a whole set of consumers basically priced out of the market."

[email protected]
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 ,

Comments

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,311 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: CALIFORNIA Grid-Tie interconnect agreements limiting new installs

    the problem is easy to fix. quit allowing the utility companies to unduly influence and sway the state puc, which in my state is more or less, the electric company's yes men who are ready to rubber stamp the wants of the electric company. if it ain't broke then why else did they try to fix it this way? if i were arnold i would find out who is on the take and fire them.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,239 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: CALIFORNIA Grid-Tie interconnect agreements limiting new installs

    This just in:


    ________________________________

    From: Julie Blunden
    Sent: Wed 5/9/2007 6:43 PM
    Subject: TOU Mandate Issues Resolution



    Deal Colleagues,



    I'm pleased to relate that Governor Schwarzenegger announced today that he
    has worked with agencies, the legislature and stakeholder (that would be us)
    to propose an urgency bill to remedy the TOU mandate glitch in the CSI
    design. This will immediately and retroactively allow customers to choose a
    basic tariff over a TOU tariff. The proposed resolution will address the
    concern we have seen from our dealers that the TOU mandate was preventing
    customers from predicting whether or not a solar system would save them
    money.


    The resolution of this issue resulted from a collaboration between PV Now,
    CalSEIA and Vote Solar begun in January when the consequences of the CPUC's
    December interpretation of SB 1 became apparent. Several of SunPower's
    dealers were key players in raising the issues, providing data and analysis
    and raising the visibility of the issue to the point of creating motivation
    for action.

    Best - Julie


    See the Governor's announcement below.


    From: [email protected]

    Date: Wed, 9 May 2007 17:04:23

    Subject: Gov. Schwarzenegger Sponsors Legislation to Correct Flaw in
    California's Million Solar Roofs Plan



    GAAS:366:07



    For Immediate

    Release:

    Contact: Aaron McLear

    Wednesday, May 9, 2007

    Bill Maile 916-445-4571

    Gov. Schwarzenegger Sponsors Legislation to Correct Flaw in California's
    Million Solar Roofs Plan


    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced that he is sponsoring
    legislation to fix an unintended flaw in legislation passed last year to
    complete his Million Solar Roofs plan. The program, administered by the
    California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), provides financial incentives
    to home and business owners to install solar systems to reduce electricity
    demand in California, helping to ensure an adequate supply and protect the
    environment.




    "California is a national leader in solar energy. By expanding its use in
    homes and businesses across our state, we can help fight greenhouse gases
    while bringing more jobs to California." said Governor Schwarzenegger.
    "Last year's legislation had an unintended flaw we are seeking to
    immediately fix so we can maximize Californians'
    participation in the program."



    To expedite the passage of urgency legislation, the Governor has reached a
    conceptual agreement with a bipartisan group of legislators including
    Assemblymembers Lloyd Levine, Rick Keene, Bonnie Garcia, John Benoit and
    Senators Christine Kehoe, Bob Dutton and Jim Battin to quickly introduce a
    bill that fixes the problem. The Governor has also worked with utilities,
    environmental groups and other stakeholders to craft the agreement.



    The unintended problem is related to the current statutory requirement for
    Time of Use rates for electricity customers that install solar systems. The
    solution allows the CPUC to temporarily change the rate structure for solar
    systems installed since January 1, 2007. The legislation must be signed
    into law by June 6, 2007, to allow the CPUC to take action at its next
    regularly scheduled meeting.



    The legislation will also allow the CPUC to offer rebates or credits to
    ratepayers impacted by the current rate structure.



    Since taking office, the Governor has made it a priority to develop a
    self-sustaining solar industry for California. Gov. Schwarzenegger worked
    for more than two years with the legislature and the California Public
    Utilities Commission to create a solar program for the citizens of
    California. To fully implement the incentive program, he signed SB 1 by
    Senator Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles) in August, 2006.



    One million solar roofs will greatly increase the state's rooftop solar
    energy capacity, providing the output equivalent of five modern electric
    power plants. This program's 3,000 megawatt goal, taken together with other
    aggressive solar initiatives such as requiring utilities to acquire 20
    percent of the power used within the state from renewable sources, will make
    California once again a world leader in solar power.



    In October of last year, the Governor launched the Go Solar California Web
    site ([url]www.GoSolarCalifornia.ca.gov:[/url]

    <http://www.GoSolarCalifornia.ca.gov <http://www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov/>
    > ), a one stop shop for information on the state's solar programs for
    California residential and commercial power users.



    Julie Blunden

    Vice President

    Public Policy and Corporate Communications

    mike90045 wrote:
    - update - new bill fixed this - nearly overnight !

    from Slash Dot & LA Times

    CA Solar Use Falling Because of Economics
    http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/09/1241243

    Rebate rule chills sales of solar
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-solar8may08,0,3494064.story
    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 ,

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,239 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: CALIFORNIA Grid-Tie interconnect agreements limiting new installs

    FIXED !!

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-solar8jun08,1,6173068.story

    excerpt:
    Fixing a glitch in a 6-month-old rebate program that made solar power too expensive in parts of the state, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state energy regulators moved swiftly to enact changes to make the program more financially attractive.

    The governor signed into law a bill sped to him by legislators after solar industry installers complained that homeowners were spurning the state's solar incentives.

    The new law takes effect immediately.

    "" Regulators inadvertently ordered the state's three investor-owned electric utilities to require applicants for solar installation rebates to sign up for electric pricing plans that charge more for power consumed when demand is highest, such as on hot summer afternoons.
    As a result, switching to solar power suddenly became overly expensive, particularly in the desert regions of Southern California served by Southern California Edison Co. ""

    And More rebates:

    The Assembly approved a bill that would create a $250-million program to provide rebates to homeowners who install rooftop solar water-heating systems.

    The rebates would cut the cost of a $6,000 solar-thermal system by as much as 25%, said the bill's author, Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael). Widespread use of the relatively low-tech heating panels could cut statewide natural gas consumption by 5% and emissions of greenhouse gas that cause global warming, he said.
    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 ,

  • RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
    Re: CALIFORNIA Grid-Tie interconnect glitch FIXED !

    This is a positive step, but if we really want to open up solar, I'd suggest:

    1) Have a Time-of-use rate that is of great advantage to solar, and allow customers to stay on it. The E-7 mentioned in other threads of this forum is a good start, but as I understand it, the plan is that this is just a stopgap measure until a new tariff can be agreed upon. I would put odds on the new tariff being worse for solar, otherwise, there would have been a permanent offer of E-7 off the bat. The uncertainty may be discouraging people.

    2) Allow all charges on the electric bill to be reimbursed by solar kWh. I'm not suggesting that the power company ever write the customer a check, just that the bill could be driven to zero. Presently, some charges like meter lease and minimum usage are non-refundable.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,002 admin
    Re: CALIFORNIA Grid-Tie interconnect glitch FIXED !

    Subsidies, whoever they are paid by and whomever they are give to, IMHO are unsustainable... The government may help with some research money (space program sure was a good sized win)--but now, that money is rarely given towards and end--it is all based on the means and politics.

    There is no way an electric utility can stay in business if it has to buy and sell power at retail... California, in just a couple of years of "mistaken political energy policies and politics" in 2000, went into a $25,000,000,000 to $40,000,000,000 hole that is going to take forty years of bonds to did us back out (like most states, California is constitutionally prohibited from running a deficit across a fiscal year--yea, that worked well...).

    European energy has already hopped over the ravine where the price of energy is set mostly by the taxes on many fuels. There is almost now way that a new energy source can even compete as long as there are government policies and taxes that take the commodity cost, and jack up the retail price by ~4-5+ times (as done with European Road taxes on fuel).

    I have asked the question before--if everyone went to solar on their roofs and electric cars--where would Europe get their road/social funding from? In my opinion, government will not allow these alternative forms of energy "on the road" until they get their GPS and/or transponder road tax system into place.

    In the US, taxes are not that high yet and government can "wave" road taxes (California has done this, for now) where only ~10-20% or so of the fuel costs are direct taxes.

    And once a GPS/Transponder road tax system is operating--why would people use alternative fuel source for, example transportation, if the punishing taxes have been removed from the fuel itself.

    In California--I have E7 (I think that mine is a "grandfathered E7" that I can keep longer than the newer E7 customers--but everywhere you looked in the paperwork and on the web, PG&E and the State of California reserve the right to end E-7 with the stroke of a pen and zero right of compensation for any money spent by the customer to comply with E7 rules) with 1 year net metering and a ~$5 monthly (cash minimum monthly bill--but I had to purchase my E7 meter for $277 at the time--but that would only add a couple bucks more per month)... I can't believe that $5-$9 a month utility service charge will stop anyone.

    What is more the issue is the $15,000 worth of solar panels and $15,000 worth of installation, inverter, building department fees, etc. that slow folks down a bunch just to offset a mediocre 380 kWhrs / month (or about $41 in electricity).

    In CA, the rebates and Fed tax breaks will reduce the price by 1/3 (or $10,000 of). Even if solar panels went down in cost by 1/2 ($5 down to $2.50 per watt), the savings (assuming rebates went away) would only be $7,500... Or $2,500 increased cost to the consumer.

    Why would a solar panel company try to cut their costs (and unit profit) in 1/2 when the government is willing to "give money away" and the customer pays less with the government rebates than with cheaper solar from the manufacturer.

    At this point, I would rather keep my money and decide where to spend it rather than have government social engineering. End my rant here...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
Sign In or Register to comment.