New house, no solar

CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
We've just taken possession of our new house in the Cariboo.
It has what could be called "ideal solar situation"; lots of clear land with good East-South exposure. It would be very easy to put up some PV's and wire in a GT system.

But it's not going to happen.

Consider the number of times people ask about installing solar "to save money on my electric bill". Technically the answer is "yes", because the electric bill will be smaller. But you won't actually be saving money; you'll just be spending it somewhere else - on the solar equipment.

Up here where Gov't-owned utility BC Hydro charges less than ten cents per kilowatt hour, it's impossible to justify the capital outlay for a GT system that produces power at an amortized rate of approximately five times grid cost. The prospect for wind power is just as bad if not worse (haven't done any wind analysis in the area, so I don't know the potential).

So here is where the "spin your meter backwards" scammers and the "save money on your electric bill" exaggerators run smack into the fiscal reality which is the #1 reason why more solar installs aren't done; regular grid power is so cheap that in most cases it isn't financially viable to generate power from sun or wind. (Which leads us to ask the politically charged question: "Are we paying the true price for electricity on our bills?")

But inverter fans take heart; there may yet be need for a battery-based back-up power system for emergency black-outs. Or not. Generators are pretty cheap, and the furnace is gas (main heat source aside from the wood stove).


  • dwhdwh Solar Expert Posts: 1,341 ✭✭✭
    Re: New house, no solar

    Glad to hear you got the new house. Hope the wife is doing well.

    Now, update your .sig and turn in your propeller beanie and secret decoder ring (you can keep the Fez).
  • hillbillyhillbilly Solar Expert Posts: 334 ✭✭
    Re: New house, no solar

    Hey, congratulations!
    I don't know if I should offer condolences or not in terms of the lack of incentive to "go solar" on the new place. I'll be sure to try and feel sorry for you the next time I'm playing with the electrolyte of my battery bank :-) Would you be located north of Wells Grey Provincial Park, if memory serves me correctly the park is at the southern end of the Cariboo?
    Less than a dime a KWH is pretty darn cheap. I'd be curious to hear how those hydro facilities actually fare financially, as it seems impossible to cover costs at that kind of rate. I don't know about up in BC, but I would suspect that it's probably pretty similar to the states down south of you: most hydro facilities here are heavily subsidized and to my knowledge not one has ever fully paid for itself. I have to wonder if these low utility rates will remain so in the coming decades... Just out of curiosity what types of government/utility incentives are offered in BC for solar or wind in residential applications?
    Congrats again...
  • dsp3930dsp3930 Solar Expert Posts: 66 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: New house, no solar

    My power from Toledo Edison / First Energy is less than 7 cents per kwh. It totals a little over 10 cents per kwh with all charges included. (when kwh are divided by my total bill) I can justify it because of several reasons even with that low of a rate:

    1) I would like to be able to power my house when the grid is down (I live on the end of a line in the country) and not have to store a metric arseload (that's a technical measure by the way) of gas and/or propane.
    2) 30% Fed Credit
    3) FE Ohio is about to start offering REC credits to residential customers at $300-400 per mwh/yr. (an unofficially quoted rate) IE. If I use 10mwh per year (10,000 kwh) then, I will gain a credit paid to me 1x per year of $3k+.
    4) I think power rates are only likely to go up. (CAP & Trade, Inflation, etc) We know others who's electric rates have gone up 2x or more in recent years.
    5) I like projects, tinkering, and my wife tends to humor me. :D
    6 - 10) See #5

    On a somewhat unrelated note ... as you may have noted by my sig, I only have 3 panels right now. I put my batteries, inverter, and 3 panels in to get a realistic measurement of my generation capability. I'll likely be adding 9-12 more panels this spring. (unless I buck up and decide to purchase a pallet on discount somewhere)
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: New house, no solar

    Thanks, guys: Mrs.' healing is coming along slowly but surely. Mostly she's frustrated at not being able to do anything - or even sit/stand for a while without pain. We're still looking at months.

    I should clarify my first post: we retain the cabin with its solar electric system. So I get to keep my beanie & ring! :p
    This new 'town house' is one hour away instead of six. That's a big difference, especially for us seniors.

    The two make a good contrast in applications: to get grid power to the cabin might not even be possible, as it would require 23 kilometers (14 miles) of line. That's a lot of poles and wire, to say nothing of the problem of acquiring the right-of-way across Crown and private land. In another post I mentioned where we'd used a Honda 1000 for power before the solar install, and ran it 8-10 hours a day every day for months. Generator power on that scale gets to be expensive and annoying.

    So the PV's were a practical and cost effective solution for power in the middle of nowhere. But now we have this house on the main road, and despite its great insolation putting up an array is not at all feasible. We have no incentives here; no rebates at any government level or from the utility, so there's nothing to help off-set the capital costs. Nor is BC Hydro big on buying grid-tie electric, despite a half-hearted attempt by the Province to get small-scale producers connected.

    I, too, wonder just how 'real' the electric rate is in comparison to actual production costs. There has been some concern over the sale of our power to California at rather inflated rates in the past. Perhaps Bill & his neighbors are unwittingly subsidizing our cheap rates.:blush:
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: New house, no solar

    i didn't know you were going to relocate and i hope you and your wife are more comfortable in this new abode.
    has your wife fully recovered from her injuries? my experience is that severe injuries tend to hang on somewhat and/or haunt you later even when healed well.
    do keep a battery/inverter setup to backup for possible outages and remember to exercise the batteries once in awhile as this won't make noise in the middle of the night like even the quietest generators would do.

    edit to add
    nothing like my posting during your responce to others so i didn't read what you had written.:roll:
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: New house, no solar

    Thanks, Niel.
    As I said it's going slow and frustratingly so.

    But I forgot to mention for all you Americans out there that solar equipment is also mind-blankingly expensive here! Our 175 Watt panels were roughly $1,000 each when purchased, and there's been no improvement since. Plus our wonderful 12% sales tax. They had removed 7% from items like this and energy conservation items, but with the new HST (Hopelessly Stupid Tax) it's back on again!

    I really don't think Government is capable of coming up with a sensible, comprehensive energy plan. They just like to talk 'green' because it's the savor de jour. :grr
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: New house, no solar

    no not solar, as i meant literally an inverter with batteries for backup, but failed to mention inverter/charger. you still need the other setup over the other place so i was thinking something additional for the new place not quite as big.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: New house, no solar

    All you Canadians need to figure out US shipping options. PM me as I have a couple of ways to do it both on the west coast and in NW Ont. (Perfectly legal, I'm not trying to scam anyone, just allowing a way to drop ship near the border and then import (pay GST/PST on import). Most stuff is much cheaper to buy and have shipped in the states.

  • vcallawayvcallaway Solar Expert Posts: 157 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: New house, no solar

    I can help out with a B.C. shuttle. Cariboo is a little bit north for me. I've been known to forget my luggage in Abbotsford a few times :blush:
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: New house, no solar
    vcallaway wrote: »
    I can help out with a B.C. shuttle. Cariboo is a little bit north for me. I've been known to forget my luggage in Abbotsford a few times :blush:

    Abbotsford's motto is: "Everyone loses something in Abbotsford" isn't it? :p
    Beats Chilliwack's "The Town That Smells Like An Aardvark's Armpit." :p

    The biggest problem with getting things to the Cariboo is getting them to the Cariboo; it's a long trip, even when you're half-way there already.:D

    Thanks to GBW for making it necessary for us Canucks to have passports just to get to the US. Hasn't helped a bit with the criminals, you know.

    Oh, and Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah! :D
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