Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Choco Delivers Solar Panels

It has been our plan to obtain and install solar photovoltaic panels on the south facing expanse of the garage's roof.

We recently had a visit from Choco and his family to deliver some panels that Marc was able to help us purchase at a good price.
Here we are unloading them.

This is what the underside looks like.


Choco takes a break.

While we enjoy brunch.

Solar Plans Snafu

So now that we have the panels, we started looking into installation requirements, and specifically how to set up the system for net metering.  Net metering is the system where you are hooked into the grid and any extra electricty that is not used to power your household is returned to the grid and your meter runs backwards crediting your account.    A win/win right?  The power company gets some clean energy and we save some money on our electric bill.

 Well, we have learned some disappointing information from the utility company as we investigated. 

And I quote:
Notice to Customers Interested in Net Metering
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires each electric utility to provide net metering to customers with qualifying generation systems. There is, however, a limitation on the amount of generation that is eligible to be net metered on each electric utility’s system. This is known as the statutory “cap” on net metering capacity. Each electric utility, including Unitil, is required to limit the combined generation capacity of all net metering facilities to 1% of the utility’s historic peak load for non-municipal customers and 2% of the historic peak for municipal customers. Accordingly, for Unitil, the maximum amount of non-municipal generation eligible for net metering (Unitil’s non-municipal net metering cap) is 1.02 MW. The maximum amount of municipal generation eligible for net metering (Unitil’s municipal net metering cap) is 2.04 MW. Unitil is required by law to limit the net metering capacity in accordance with these caps. See, G.L. c. 164 s. 139.
Due to increasing demand for net metering, the amount of net metered generation on Unitil’s distribution system is fast approaching both of these caps. Unfortunately, we cannot predict when the cap will be reached. The final determination of eligibility for net metering is made after it is installed and at the time the generation system has had its final inspection and commissioning test and is issued the Approval to Interconnect by Unitil. As a result, net metering may not be available to some applicants who request it, even if they have an approval to install the generation facility. In the event that the net metering cap has been fully subscribed, interconnection of customer generation to Unitil’s electric distribution system is still allowed, but not under the Net Metering Tariff, and Net Metering Credits would not be available for any of the excess electricity generated by the customer’s facility.

One percent - are you kidding???  Well that pretty much sucks!  Can't help but think that energy company lobbyists had a hand in conjuring this law. 

And here we are springing our clocks forward for daylight savings time - a US Energy Policy whose purpose is to conserve electricity use.  Hmmmm....

We are not sure how we will proceed from here.  To be continued no doubt...