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View Diary: Solar Energy Cheaper than Coal? (351 comments)

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  •  They already run your meter backwards (8+ / 0-)

    here in NM.  If you have solar panels or wind power, it just feed back into the grid. I have a friend who did that last year, she was very proud!

    Guess that technology isn't available everywhere yet ... also guess I'd better start reading up on it.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 05:00:33 PM PST

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    •  The technology is available. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, lgmcp, offgrid

      NM doesn't have technology that the rest of us lack.  The power companies don't want to buy your power at their prices.  They have to be dragged along kicking and screaming.

      I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

      by beemerr90s on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 05:20:38 PM PST

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    •  It's called "Net Metering" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, exNYinTX, lgmcp

      where you have one electric meter on your house, and it runs forward when you are buying power from the utility company, and it runs backwards, giving you "credit" to offset your purchase, when you are producing more power then you are using at that moment.

      You enter into a net metering contract with the utility, who supplies the bi-directional kWh meter. Then your billing is based on a one year schedule, instead of monthly (you still get monthly statements so that you can keep track). A typical photovoltaic (PV) system produces most of it's yearly power in the summertime (long days and all that), that is banked as credit to offset your winter energy use.

      At the end of the 12 month period, the utility company draws a line and totals out the year - if you've used more power then you produced, you pay them the difference. If you produced more power then you consumed...well...the utility company gets that for free, and can sell it to someone else. They don't pay you for excess production.

      While at first glance this last part sounds like a rip-off, it's really a great deal for the homeowner. Every kilowatt/hour produced or consumed is based on retail value, hence the "net" in net metering. The alternative is to buy the power at retail pricing, and then sell power at wholesale pricing, which is a much worse deal.

      Net metering is available now in 42 States and DC. Here is a link to the best site out there for info in your state:

      http://www.dsireusa.org/

      "If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy." -teacherken

      by offgrid on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 07:19:34 PM PST

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      •  Excellent info, thank you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        offgrid

        And it IS interesting that your small home production is worth "retail" costs under this system.  

        However this part

        If you produced more power then you consumed...well...the utility company gets that for free, and can sell it to someone else.

        does create a significant disincetive for folks to produce any excess power.  If we are ever to get to a sustainable system, distributed power production will be essential and this disincentive will have to be modified.  Like, maybe they could at least pay a rock-bottom wholesale price for said excess.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 06:28:25 AM PST

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        •  Yep, (0+ / 0-)

          there is no incentive to produce more then you use.

          When net metering started here in CA, I talked so some higher-ups at Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to see if there was some method by which people could donate their extra power credit to a non-profit or retired person, or something, but they wouldn't go there. "Too much paperwork".

          One way to use the extra electicity, however, is to convert any remaining gas appliances, such as gas water heaters, to electric. That will further reduce your carbon footprint.

          "If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy." -teacherken

          by offgrid on Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 06:31:50 PM PST

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