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Thread: Residential Solar Panel

  1. #1

    Default Residential Solar Panel

    Hi all,

    My detached garage is a standard 2-car lot, east-west direction. The north facade of the garage receives ample sunshine. I was wondering if anyone has had any expereince in residential solar panel installation, in terms of installation and maintance cost, the realized energy saving etc.

    In particlaur:

    1-Is the province/city provides any incentives to home owners for installing panels?
    2- What needs to be arranged with the existing electricty utility I currently use? I prefer grid-connected solar energy.
    3- How much did you spend on the initial installation and how often did you have to do maintenance?
    4- What company you recommend for this purpose.

    Appreciate your feedback!

  2. #2

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    Don't know much about solar panel installation etc: but I would love to see more solar panels being used.
    Enmax has a program, you could check it out.

    http://web.enmax.com/generate-choice...FYkWMgody2sAzg

    and another source......................


    http://solar-panel-installers.ca/Alberta/
    Last edited by Gemini; 13-06-2013 at 05:22 PM.
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    FamilyMan - I think that you will have use the south side of your garage or you won't have sun for 6 months of the year (between solstices). Also you need direct sunlight and you will only get that on the north side in the morning and late in the day which are weaker sun rather than the strong sun you get during the middle of the day (and which shines from the south).

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    In order to get any value out of it, you will need to have a fairly steeply pitched roof (10 in 12 or higher) and the panels will have to go on the south facing roof slope.

    Great Canadian Solar is probably a good place to start:
    http://www.greatcanadiansolar.com/home/

    Paybacks in Edmonton seem to be ranging in the 15-20yr range. A smaller system that would fit on a garage might have a longer payback as you have all the fixed costs (installation, grid connect, etc).

    Experience from other residential solar installations in Edmonton shows you'll generate about 1 kWh per year for every watt of installed panel power. This will depend on what angle your panels are at (53deg above horizontal is best, which is a pretty steep roof), what direction they face, and trees/houses in the area that might block them. I think it's about $2/watt to bring a complete system up from the states (Sharp brand), but that does not include installation.
    Last edited by nobleea; 13-06-2013 at 05:58 PM.

  5. #5

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    Sorry I meant the south facade...however the roof is not steep and 15-20 years payback is rather long. There is a company in California, back by the entrepreneur Elon Musk, which essentially leases the panels to homeowners, thus eliminating the upfront cost: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SolarCity

    I will continue to research the Edmonton/Alberta options....

  6. #6

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    You might be better off with a small windmill, if city ordinances and your neighbours don't get in the way. We seem to be getting more and more wind, the up front costs should be reasonable, and the intermittent nature shouldn't matter if all you're intending to do is feed into the grid and roll your metre back.

  7. #7

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    Solar power is hit and miss what with problems with quality of panel construction and cost. I don't know I'd look at it as a cost savings. Personally I look at it due to portability in instances where I'm without grid. For instance rustic cabin, or RV camping. its great for those purposes and I love those uses. Or for easy lighting and some modicum of heating for a backyard greenhouse.

    The investment to knock anything off household grid cost is simply not worth it. Unless perhaps you can get totally off grid. Otherwise you're still paying a lot of the electricity bill in made up service charges, delivery charges of electricity etc.

    Plus, no look at appreciable investment in solar panels should occur without looking at this.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/bu...anted=all&_r=1

    Theres massive problems in the manufacturing of these right now meaning you have no certainty that these operate anywhere near peak efficiency for an appreciable time or even what the reasonable life span of the panels as presently manufactured will be. People would tend to think that solar panels are getting better, more efficient, greater technology/quality but I'm not convinced this is the case. This seems to be an imploding race to the bottom cost industry. Which represents extremely poor value for consumers expecting a longlife product to return some upfront investment.

    I love the idea of solar power. But it just isn't cost efficient or known to be long term reliable yet.
    Last edited by Replacement; 13-06-2013 at 11:18 PM.
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  8. #8

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    Dandelion Renewables are a local company that put in the panels for some of the community leagues around town. They offer a free initial consultation and do grid-tied (net metered) solar power installations.

    They also do wind installations, but looking at what's needed fro one, I don't think they'll work for an urban home owner. I notice the winds wip around the canyons of downtown at speed sometimes; how feasible would it be to place wind turbines on the roof of existing and new skyscrapers? Do we get enough wind here to justify that? Also, could we add turbines to the top of cell phone towers?

  9. #9

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    ^
    A company out of Ontario installs vertical wind turbines on buildings out there. I don't know if we have enough wind to justify it, but if we do I could see a few of these stacked on buildings and cell towers helping out.

    Grand Prairie had one of these installed next to a fire station to test community reaction, but I don't know how it turned out for them.

    Last edited by Ustauk; 14-06-2013 at 10:22 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ustauk View Post
    ^
    A company out of Ontario installs vertical wind turbines on buildings out there. I don't know if we have enough wind to justify it, but if we do I could see a few of these stacked on buildings and cell towers helping out.

    Grand Prairie had one of these installed next to a fire station to test community reaction, but I don't know how it turned out for them.

    Looks like it didn't pan out. I may have seen it when I was living up there but it didn't make any impression one way or another. It could be that I thought it was a communications tower.

    http://www.dailyheraldtribune.com/20...ins-to-a-close

  11. #11

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    ^
    Damn, oh well. I agree, it does look like the top of a cell tower that whirls like a merry-go-round, which is why I thought placing at the top of a cell tower above the antennae would be a good fit

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post

    Plus, no look at appreciable investment in solar panels should occur without looking at this.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/bu...anted=all&_r=1
    I did read that NYT article, that's why in my questions I asked for maintenance cost to see if anyone had any issues with the quality. There is also a trade war between EU and China on the price of panels. However, I still think with a bit of subsidy and innovative thinking solar energy can be worth it. The SolarCity company I mentioned is one example.

    Quote Originally Posted by Replacement View Post
    Unless perhaps you can get totally off grid.
    IF the battery technology improves, then it is possible and WHEN it happens electric utilities sector will be disrupted, big time:
    http://grist.org/climate-energy/sola...u-s-utilities/
    Last edited by FamilyMan; 14-06-2013 at 09:16 PM.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ustauk View Post
    I notice the winds wip around the canyons of downtown at speed sometimes; how feasible would it be to place wind turbines on the roof of existing and new skyscrapers? Do we get enough wind here to justify that? Also, could we add turbines to the top of cell phone towers?
    Totally possible. Check out this Skyscraper in London, UK:

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    Don't know much about solar panel installation etc: but I would love to see more solar panels being used.
    Enmax has a program, you could check it out.

    http://web.enmax.com/generate-choice...FYkWMgody2sAzg

    and another source......................


    http://solar-panel-installers.ca/Alberta/

    The industry is shooting itself in the foot. It's now a higher risk purchase with a large potentially negative environmental - and landfill impact.

    Solar defects - Score one for Natural Gas
    http://www.connect2edmonton.ca/forum...ad.php?t=33219

    Also, with the access to huge newly available supplies of natural gas, gas prices may be depressed for years to come. Moreover, you may get more environmental bang out of your bucks by buying a hybrid or adding insulation to you home or cutting water use or recycling more/buying less...
    Last edited by KC; 15-06-2013 at 08:21 AM.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ustauk View Post
    I notice the winds wip around the canyons of downtown at speed sometimes; how feasible would it be to place wind turbines on the roof of existing and new skyscrapers? Do we get enough wind here to justify that? Also, could we add turbines to the top of cell phone towers?
    Totally possible. Check out this Skyscraper in London, UK:
    About ten years ago I'd read that Chicago was doing this too.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    The industry is shooting itself in the foot. It's now a higher risk purchase with a large potentially negative environmental - and landfill impact.

    Solar defects - Score one for Natural Gas
    http://www.connect2edmonton.ca/forum...ad.php?t=33219
    I would argue there is no perfect solution. Don't get caught up in the Shale hype, it has it has environmental issues and more will be uncovered as time pass. I suggest reading "Private Empire", by Steve Coll which chronicles how big Oil supported scientific confusion about global warming and environmental impact of Oil and Gas. Not a big fan of conspiracy theories but we need to look at the problem more holistically.

    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    Moreover, you may get more environmental bang out of your bucks by buying a hybrid or adding insulation to you home or cutting water use or recycling more/buying less...
    I beg to differ. Here is a warning from Toyota that without clean electricity, hybrids won't have much impact:
    http://www.rtcc.org/toyota-electric-...n-electricity/

    ďWe are looking with some concern at the German plan of having 1m electric vehicles on the road by 2020. If more and more of their electricity is going to come from coal, then this does not solve the problem. It just shifts the emissions to another area. This is not how it should be,Ē

  17. #17

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    Just a quick update:

    After registering for Enmax program a few weeks ago, I finally got a call this afternoon. They has a simple question on my "motivation" for interest in solar. Turned out the "correct" answer was "reducing carbon foot print" and nothing to do with electricity cost reduction etc. The whole talk took less than a minute.

    So there it is: There is good potential for usage of solar panels in Edmonton, however, there is a misalignment between "social/environmental" dimension and "cost/benefit" dimension. Unless this gap is not bridged, either by cheaper technology or government incentive plans, solar will not take off.

  18. #18

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    You may want to look at the EPCOR page for micro-generation. It is not solar panel specific, but solar falls under that classifaction. And while you might be on contract with Enmax (I am assuming from your earlier posts) you will be dealing with EDTI (EPCOR Distribution and Transmition Inc) as the wires owner/operator.
    http://www.epcor.com/efficiency-cons...wn-energy.aspx

  19. #19

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    “Edmonton rolled out a juicy bonus this month for local homeowners”


    Edmonton needs more than grants to meet carbon reduction goals | Edmonton Journal
    goals

    ELISE STOLTE
    Updated: January 28, 2019

    “Edmonton rolled out a juicy bonus this month for local homeowners looking to upgrade windows, furnaces and insulation.”

    ...
    “I share these numbers because you can’t find them on Energy Efficiency Alberta’s website. The funding formulas are so complicated it’s hard for a homeowner to know what to expect.
    ...”

    “Fortunately, something more is coming. Edmonton is partnering on a new pilot project to...”

    “Mike Mellross, Edmonton’s Energy Transition program manager, says the money will come through the Alberta Capital Finance Authority, the same entity that provides private capital to cities for LRT and recreation centres. ...”


    https://edmontonjournal.com/news/loc...s-carbon-goals

    Nice to actually see some sample dollar costs provided and I’d love to add solar to our house but there’s all kinds of really basic information that is never made available to homeowners - so buyer beware is my attitude.
    Last edited by KC; 28-01-2019 at 12:43 PM.

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    Crazy that the homeowner in the article didn't replace the shingles before putting up those solar panels. They're visibly in horrible shape.

    I've wondered whether installers increase their prices a bit so that while the consumer does save with the rebate, it's not as much as it should be. Probably not since there seems to be a fair amount of installers, but not too many buyers.

    How does that loan program work? Do you have to get approved based on income, etc? Do they care how big your mortgage is? Will banks take it in to account when calculating amounts for loan approvals?

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    ^I noticed that as well. Was told by installers that worn shingles should be replaced before installing solar panels.

    I considered a solar installation last summer after replacing the shingles on my house, and even got a couple of quotes.

    Problem is electricity is pretty cheap right now and is likely to continue to be so for some years to come due to the abundance of cheap natural gas to fuel power plants. When you're only paying $25 per month in electric energy charges, it's hard to justify paying $10,000 or more for a solar installation even after rebates.

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    ^That's the rub. I've looked at solar a few times, and the payback equations are sketchy at best. I've even received a quote for off grid, and that came to $180K for solar, geothermal, and the obligatory propane or natural gas backup generator.

    So, if I have to put a yard bomb or extend NG, then I am not really off grid, I am paying the fees, the fee for the fees, and the fee for charging the fees for the fees, then bye bye Geothermal! My bill is barely $70 in the winter, but the rest of the $196 bill is fees and carbon tax!

    So, just the solar was $80K, including battery bank and generator. ...but then (allegedly for a better payback scheme), it was suggested that now I grid tie. So, I need to spend another $16-20K to bring in power, rent the darn transformer, pay delivery charges, distribution charges, etc...so on my last $248 bill, only $59 was electricity...the rest were fees, fees for the fees, fees because the fees for the fees need fees to justify the fees for the fees...all these things that going off grid was supposed to be removing...

    So, by the time I added in everything, even going completely off grid, and even after paying fees for fees and then tax on the carbon tax...er...levy...and then factoring in the life expectancy of batteries and generators...I would never, ever, see a payback going solar. Grid tie, even less of an ROI. Essentially, I would be paying $180K to feel good and smug about going green, and the only person getting payback was the reseller of the solar.

    ...I won't even mention the small scale solar experiments I do here on the ranch. We've had too many cloudy days on the past couple of years, so the generator (or line consumption) at peak times in the winter would further exhaust the ROI.
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    ^That said the solar equation changes considerably for infill or new construction.

    I have neighbours a block down who designed their house specifically with solar in mind. Full two-storey, east-west building orientation, south-facing roof line to maximize sun exposure, and electric heating and cooling. The entire south facing roof of both the house and attached garage has solar panels covering practically every square inch.

    I'm guessing their ROI is pretty good, even with low electricity and natural gas prices.

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    So, if you generate all the electricity you need with panels, do you escape all the extra charges, riders, etc. payable to Epcor? I would think so, but I wouldn't doubt there'd be something you'd be dinged with. Epcor's worst nightmare would surely be that at some future point, no matter how far off, everything would run off solar.
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    ^From talking to installers, it's my understanding that only the Electric Energy Charges on your bill are affected. So long as a residence is connected to the grid, you are still liable for paying all the distribution, transmission, rate riders, etc. And in urban environments staying on the grid is advised because when the solar panels are working full tilt, the surplus electricity generated can be sold on to the grid and a credit received on your bill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by East McCauley View Post
    ^That said the solar equation changes considerably for infill or new construction.

    I have neighbours a block down who designed their house specifically with solar in mind. Full two-storey, east-west building orientation, south-facing roof line to maximize sun exposure, and electric heating and cooling. The entire south facing roof of both the house and attached garage has solar panels covering practically every square inch.

    I'm guessing their ROI is pretty good, even with low electricity and natural gas prices.
    It might be ok if the house is insulated enough that they can cut the gas connection. Since you mention electric heating, I assume this is the case.

    I don't know if a new build changes the ROI substantially aside from eliminating the gas connection, or rather not making it. This could be a 2-5K hookup in initial costs by itself depending on what time of year ATCO makes the connection for you. The power grid tie is not expensive upfront.

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    Quote Originally Posted by East McCauley View Post
    ^From talking to installers, it's my understanding that only the Electric Energy Charges on your bill are affected. So long as a residence is connected to the grid, you are still liable for paying all the distribution, transmission, rate riders, etc. And in urban environments staying on the grid is advised because when the solar panels are working full tilt, the surplus electricity generated can be sold on to the grid and a credit received on your bill.
    Thanks. I wonder how much surplus electricity would need to be sold back onto the grid such that it would offset all the add-ons. So many variables in that though, I suppose.
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  28. #28

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    Edmonton is very good for solar production. Problem is that the average home requires so much electricity. The heating demand in winter makes cutting off the gas line almost impractical.
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    Quote Originally Posted by howie View Post
    Thanks. I wonder how much surplus electricity would need to be sold back onto the grid such that it would offset all the add-ons. So many variables in that though, I suppose.
    I believe the credits only apply to energy consumed, not the add on/fixed costs.
    You would size your solar panel installation such that your full year generation matches your full year consumption. But you'd still have to pay the fixed fees every month, regardless if you were net positive or negative.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmonton PRT View Post
    Edmonton is very good for solar production. Problem is that the average home requires so much electricity. The heating demand in winter makes cutting off the gas line almost impractical.
    For the average home, yes. For a very well insulated home it's doable. There's several homes in town that already do so, even without ridiculously large panel installations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by East McCauley View Post
    ^That said the solar equation changes considerably for infill or new construction.

    I have neighbours a block down who designed their house specifically with solar in mind. Full two-storey, east-west building orientation, south-facing roof line to maximize sun exposure, and electric heating and cooling. The entire south facing roof of both the house and attached garage has solar panels covering practically every square inch.

    I'm guessing their ROI is pretty good, even with low electricity and natural gas prices.
    I'd actually have to see that equation.

    The entire design I have is meant to be 100% aligned to solar, regardless of panels. This is how the current ranch house I live in was designed in 1974...east/west rancher with a large south face, and the north face is limited in windows, etc. The heat loading I get in the south is fairly good, when the sun actually shines. The cloud cover I get out west precludes most of my solar installations from working well, although the cattle watering solutions around here seem to be working well. For these, the cost of extending power far exceeded the ability for these pumps to bring up water when the sun is actually out...and the design is pretty good.

    Panels aren't the end of the costs though. The whole installation needs to be taken into account, and even the MRO costs. The killer in my example was the battery backups and generators.
    That cost alone was 2-3X more than just extending 100A 3phase and 1500m of NG pipeline.

    Then you have to factor in your own maintenance of the installation if you are that DIY'er vs what has actually been stellar service from FORTIS.

    It is similar to the conversation I have with wood heating. The ranch house has 4 fireboxes now as you could heat it with wood, but when you factor in all the work and the fact that the majority of the wood is fast burning trembling aspen...same issue. A ton of f-around factor and you still need to have NG or a yard bomb to back this up...hence pay the fees...

    I do agree that if you have an existing hook up, then you could see some savings in an urban environment...but even here if I were to utilize the 100' of south facing roofline, the payback is nullified by the distribution charges et al once you're grid tied.

    This is still notwithstanding the complexity of keeping the grid in phase with all these remote and unreliable generation facilities...


    Quote Originally Posted by howie View Post
    So, if you generate all the electricity you need with panels, do you escape all the extra charges, riders, etc. payable to Epcor? I would think so, but I wouldn't doubt there'd be something you'd be dinged with. Epcor's worst nightmare would surely be that at some future point, no matter how far off, everything would run off solar.

    You still pay for all fees and charges...some are consumption based though...

    It is not just EPCOR. Out here it is FORTIS. There is also a huge portion of my bill that goes to transmission charges, not just distribution. That charge really irks me now that I've gone through the SRB and AUC hearings on ATCO Electric's Ft Mac line...to sit through this and see just how badly ATCO's legal team just flat out lies over and over again, and how their project team makes a mockery of environmental and stakeholder management...yet I pay a huge charge for this privledge...GRRRRRRRRRRRR...no wonder Alberta or the utility industry has no credibility when it comes to pipelines... but another topic.
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    ^More details on the net zero house I mentioned above were recently published by the homeowners in our community newspaper. Details here:

    It was important to us to build a sustainable home using as little energy as possible to operate. The house is heavily insulated (very different from our old McCauley home, built in 1912) and has energy efficient windows, doors and appliances for a total EnerGuide rating of 100. There is no gas used in our house (so we pay no carbon tax). Instead, our main heat source is an electric Mitsubishi heat pump, and as someone who is always cold I can attest that it warms our house nicely!

    The entire south side of our roof (pictured) is covered in solar panels that can provide enough electricity to run our house. Since battery technology is not advanced enough to be affordable currently, we are connected to the power grid to sell the power we generate. In winter, when sunshine hours are short, we will buy some electricity. In summer, when days are longer, we will be selling to the power company because we will generate more power than we will use. In theory, this means that over the course of a year the cost of running our home should balance out to $0. There is further incentive to go green in the form of rebates: our solar system cost about $30,000 and we have received rebates from the Province of Alberta and the City of Edmonton totaling $9600. We have recouped nearly 1/3 of the cost already!

    https://bmcnews.org/story/our-net-zero-home

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    Rebates are not really recouping savings through energy costs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by East McCauley
    In theory, this means that over the course of a year the cost of running our home should balance out to $0.
    In practice, that won't be the case at all. Even if they used a net 0 kW/h in a year, they'll still end up paying a fair amount of fees, charges, riders etc. Those never run backwards.

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    ^exactly the point I made to all the resellers trying to get me to buy in...ROI is not just initial capital outlay minus the rebate paid for via my own tax dollars in the first place.

    One was actually stright forward with me when challenged. He flat out said that yes, there is the soft benefit of "gee, I'm green, somewhat"...but that is of course not emperical...and varies from person to person...

    The rub to me is that so many displaced nodes of generation will be way too hard for any grid to manage.
    Imagine if roadways were maintained like this. One person builds a 1 mile, 8 lane superhighway because he/she can/wants to, and the neighbour throws a wagon trail next...as a very hyperbolic example.

    We will eventually fall back to larger scale generation for base loads, and your own will be to provide either emergency backup, or some buyback plan that at least gives you something back...but a net zero ROI to a profitable ROI is a ways off yet...rebates or not. It will be just like purchasing a backup fossil fuel powered generator today... IMO
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    Agreed

    The economics of the ROI on residential alternative energy are marginal at best, a money pit at worst.

    I am all for reducing energy consumption and practical alternative energy projects. You are better off to invest that $30,000 in better insulation, more efficient appliances, an electric car (no point having solar panels on the house and a big gas guzzling SUV in the garage) or even investing in a wind farm in southern Alberta to offset your energy use.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel Petrin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by East McCauley
    In theory, this means that over the course of a year the cost of running our home should balance out to $0.
    In practice, that won't be the case at all. Even if they used a net 0 kW/h in a year, they'll still end up paying a fair amount of fees, charges, riders etc. Those never run backwards.
    The quote was from the homeowner, not me. You are correct. Though, since they are using electric - not natural gas - heating they are only paying the above fixed costs once on their electricity bill, not paying the fixed costs twice on each of their electricity and natural gas bills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
    The rub to me is that so many displaced nodes of generation will be way too hard for any grid to manage.

    One of my brothers-in-law worked for many years for the Alberta Electric System Operator and said the opposite. He says that micro-generation like rooftop solar is easier for the grid to manage compared to huge wind farms and solar arrays located far from where the electricity is consumed. The latter necessitates expensive transmission and distribution infrastructure as well as associated line load losses.

    Rooftop solar is a smaller scale version of why co-generation works so well for major oil sands plants (locate the generation close to where the electricity is consumed).

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    I'd put solar panels on my house if it would save me money. But it won't. I assume average homeowners will install rooftop solar panels if the benefit becomes economical enough to do so. But it doesn't make financial sense for most people right now, and we don't know if it ever will be.

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    We installed a 7.2 kW grid tied solar system last year. It cost about $26,000 and we got a rebate from th province of about $8k. We also upgraded our service at the same time to 200amp for a future EV fast charger in the garage. Based on my calculations and our average monthly consumption of about 450kWh, the system should effectively pay for all our electrical consumption including all associated fees, riders etc over the course of the year. This system bolsters other efficiency upgrades we’ve done such as high efficiency heating and cooling, insulation windows and doors, top end high efficiency appliances, full LED lighting and home automation. The automation alone has proven very effective in reducing real energy costs.

    We did not do it primarily for financial reasons, that was a factor but we also did it to reduce our carbon footprint, take advantage of some rebates that likely won’t exist past the next election and raise the resale value of the house. We’re planning on selling and moving out of Edmonton in 6 years at which point the system should have paid for around 40% of itself. Assuming we can get 50% of the value of the system back when we sell we’ll be ahead, of at least close. The current technology is pretty cool and still generates power with 4 inches of snow on the panels. I was very conservative in my calculations so actual results could be better than I projected.

    Where solar panels will really come in handy is if demand charges are ever introduced in Alberta for residential customers. Solar panels are prevalent in places with demand limits to shave peak demand, and in those cases the savings can be significant. We likely won’t have that in Alberta but at some point power is going be go up in price significantly. We have very low rates here compared to other areas.

    I think Richard is off the mark by a ways. The key to energy sustainability is microgeneration. The grid can support it and solar is but one component of the larger picture which includes natural gas fired power plants, wind and hydro power.

    I’m quite happy with the investment so far, we had the cash to do it, the technology is proven and sound and ultimately I think it’ll prove to be a good decision. Of course time will tell but I am optimistic based on my research that the concept is sound and the benefits are tangible
    Last edited by 240GLT; 31-01-2019 at 02:56 PM.

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    Did you source parts and do the install yourself? Or did you hire a company that specializes in PV installs?

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    We had a local licenced electrical contractor who specializes in such installations perform the work. If one had the wherewithall to do it themselves the equipment cost comes out to about a buck a watt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel Petrin View Post
    Did you source parts and do the install yourself? Or did you hire a company that specializes in PV installs?
    At $26K for 7.2kW that has to be an installed system.

    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT
    Based on my calculations and our average monthly consumption of about 450kWh, the system should effectively pay for all our electrical consumption including all associated fees, riders etc over the course of the year.
    I was under the impression that generation credits cannot be used for riders, fixed fees, etc. Any surplus generation credits just build up until you draw from the grid to use them up but you'd still have to pay cash for the fixed/connection fees?

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    You need to change providers. We are now with Alberta Cooperative Energy. No the credits do not pay directly for the riders but we csn either maintain an electrical credit or receive a cheque back for excess energy produced

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    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    receive a cheque back for excess energy produced
    Well, that's essentially the same thing as having it paid directly for by the excess production. Good to hear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by East McCauley View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
    The rub to me is that so many displaced nodes of generation will be way too hard for any grid to manage.

    One of my brothers-in-law worked for many years for the Alberta Electric System Operator and said the opposite. He says that micro-generation like rooftop solar is easier for the grid to manage compared to huge wind farms and solar arrays located far from where the electricity is consumed. The latter necessitates expensive transmission and distribution infrastructure as well as associated line load losses.

    Rooftop solar is a smaller scale version of why co-generation works so well for major oil sands plants (locate the generation close to where the electricity is consumed).
    Then riddle me on the Fort McMurray 550KV HVDC line's "criticality"? Even the current Minister of Energy said it was for power generation up north to be exported south. I've worked with the TransAlta cogens...we did and could produce more.

    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    (…)t to reduce our carbon footprint, take advantage of some rebates that likely won’t exist past the next election and raise the resale value of the house. We’re planning on selling and moving out of Edmonton in 6 years at which point the system should have paid for around 40% of itself. Assuming we can get 50% of the value of the system back when we sell we’ll be ahead, of at least close. The current technology is pretty cool and still generates power with 4 inches of snow on the panels. I was very conservative in my calculations so actual results could be better than I projected.

    Where solar panels will really come in handy is if demand charges are ever introduced in Alberta for residential customers. Solar panels are prevalent in places with demand limits to shave peak demand, and in those cases the savings can be significant. We likely won’t have that in Alberta but at some point power is going be go up in price significantly. We have very low rates here compared to other areas.

    I think Richard is off the mark by a ways. The key to energy sustainability is microgeneration. The grid can support it and solar is but one component of the larger picture which includes natural gas fired power plants, wind and hydro power.

    I’m quite happy with the investment so far, we had the cash to do it, the technology is proven and sound and ultimately I think it’ll prove to be a good decision. Of course time will tell but I am optimistic based on my research that the concept is sound and the benefits are tangible
    I wait to see if this is correct for you my friend, and I wouldn't mind having another coffee and catching up on a few things...and adding this to the discussion...

    The bolded part plays a huge aspect into the equation you have...if you want to and are willing to pay for the ability to go green...or pay for the moral high ground, then great. I will never argue that value you've placed on that part of the ROI, and bully for you for doing it! I am looking at a colder equation where emotion and soft value doesn't play.

    I would be careful to juxtapose microgeneration based on renewables to peaker gas plants and base load plants. I can throttle gas peaker plants for demand far easier than relying on an unreliable amount of backyard solar dwellers...and keep my base load plants throttled as well...hence why even well before this hulabaloo on coal started, the plants I worked at were all slated to be replaced with gas units anyway. The coal fuel type was on the way out long ago...the price of gas and the ability to throttle based on demand was the key.

    I think the cogen/peaker plant model is more akin to what E McCauley's AESO relative was referring to. Solar/wind not so much... That is the generation model I see coming forth. With all the planned and current transmission infrastructure, as well as the demand to export power south as proven by WFM, WADL, EADL, etc..., I don't see any real move to true small scale microgeneration...

    I am open to be proven wrong, but to date, I haven't been. I even offered up a simple solution to a solar generator which would have given him 100% of the "profits", and he balked....
    President and CEO - Edmonton Airshow

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    I take a little offence to the moral high ground remark. That’s not the case at all but I’ll let it slide. From a residential consumer side, tied to the grid with a tiny 7.2 kW system my impact on the grid is not just negligible, it’s non-existent. We are IPP # 1678 so it’s not like there’s a mass off independent power producers sending electricity back from to the grid. A significant part of my job is managing utilities and energy consumption for large commercial buildings. I know how the system works and I am confident my little IPP system will do what I think it will.

    I’m no expert in the intricacies of the power generation industry, but from the people in the know that deal with this on a regular basis, the grid does have significant capacity to adapt to micro generation feeds to the grid. Epcor is a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to this, I know that first hand. Hopefully they can adapt. ACE has been very helpful in guiding us through the gauntlet of beaurocacy and red tape. As I sit here on the lanai at our condo in Maui, I am surrounded by PV panels, wind generators and a natural gas plant, all of which work in harmony to power the island. How can it work so well here and not in Alberta ?

    I read your post where you were quoted a ridiculous sum for off grid solutions. I have no idea what you’ve got going on out there or what you’re trying to power but one has to remember that when you’re going off grid you need to temper your expecations and make some sacrifices. I have a friend living off grid in Cherryville BC who owns fishing boat off Bella Coola, he runs his house on a 2500 watt Honda generator, propane for kitchen appliances and wood heat. Another friend of mine lives in Crescent Valley in the Kootenays and powers his place off a micro hydroelectric system on the year round creek that runs through his property. Neither of those folks spent anywhere close to what you are saying you’ll need to spend so I don’t understand where your costs are coming from.

    We should catch up Richard.. been too long and there’s lots gone on since we last sat down. I’ve had a lot of fun dealing with a vexatious lawsuit and related city corruption and incompetence. The stuff we’ve found out will blow your mind. It’s been a grand time but I’m done with it, planning for the next phase which primarily involves getting out of this sh*thole city and getting back to where I belong. Alas the S.O.’s pension doesn’t kick in for another six years so I’ll be here for a bit yet. I couldn’t give a sh*t about Edmonton at this point and this crummy town could fall off the face of the earth for all I care, but hey I’m here for a bit yet so if you want to get together hit my up.. I am downtown every day, same place so shoot me a PM and we’ll do a coffee

    Power to you my friend I don’t know how you maintain the stregth!
    Last edited by 240GLT; 02-02-2019 at 03:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobleea View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    receive a cheque back for excess energy produced
    Well, that's essentially the same thing as having it paid directly for by the excess production. Good to hear.
    Ok, so what’s stopping every farmer and acreage owner from putting in enough panels to create an ongoing surplus generation?

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    ^The larger the solar array the higher the upfront costs will be. Low electricity prices mean long payback periods.

    No question there are ways to improve the ROI but I'm not sure they would be politically palatable in Alberta.

    I have a relative in the Netherlands where every house in their newly built subdivision (hundreds of them) has rooftop solar panels. Apart from the kinds of installation rebates here in Alberta paid for by the carbon tax, the Dutch government has structured things in such a way that for grid tied microgeneration, my relative does not have to pay distribution and transmission costs, and they receive what is essentially a retail price for any surplus generation. These differentials are funded by the Dutch version of a carbon tax.

    In driving through the rural Netherlands, it's becoming increasingly rare to see barns that aren't covered by south or west facing solar panels. And this in a country with a relatively poor solar resource.

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    Considering the other upfront connection, equipment, installation and other costs, to a point larger solar arrays should improve the economics. (To the point a threshold is passed and the other equipment has to be upsized to serve the larger array as well.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    I take a little offence to the moral high ground remark. Thatís not the case at all but Iíll let it slide.(...)

    (...) system on the year round creek that runs through his property. Neither of those folks spent anywhere close to what you are saying youíll need to spend so I donít understand where your costs are coming from.

    We should catch up Richard.. been too long and thereís lots gone on since we last sat down. Iíve had a lot of fun dealing with a vexatious lawsuit and related city corruption and incompetence. The stuff weíve found out will blow your mind. Itís been a grand time but Iím done with it, planning for the next phase which primarily involves getting out of this sh*thole city and getting back to where I belong. Alas the S.O.ís pension doesnít kick in for another six years so Iíll be here for a bit yet. I couldnít give a sh*t about Edmonton at this point and this crummy town could fall off the face of the earth for all I care, but hey Iím here for a bit yet so if you want to get together hit my up.. I am downtown every day, same place so shoot me a PM and weíll do a coffee

    Power to you my friend I donít know how you maintain the stregth!
    I will PM you...

    But to reply,

    Please take no offence to the moral high ground comment as it was the only words I had at the time to try to convey a major current part of the ROI equations I've seen...that is the point that people will pay a premium to go green regardless of empirical ROI and factor in a feel good factor.

    The numbers I was quoted were based on getting maximum serviceability in a fairly remote parcel, and also given our climate. Today, and with the poor solar loading in my area, the system could be overbuilt. Like I said, I'm happy to learn more...

    As for the frustration for Edmonton, while I haven't thrown in the towel, it is getting harder to be positive.

    I will PM...
    President and CEO - Edmonton Airshow

  52. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    I take a little offence to the moral high ground remark. ...

    ... As I sit here on the lanai at our condo in Maui, I am surrounded by PV panels, wind generators and a natural gas plant, all of which work in harmony to power the island. How can it work so well here and not in Alberta ?

    ... I’ve had a lot of fun dealing with a vexatious lawsuit and related city corruption and incompetence. The stuff we’ve found out will blow your mind. It’s been a grand time but I’m done with it, planning for the next phase which primarily involves getting out of this sh*thole city and getting back to where I belong. Alas the S.O.’s pension doesn’t kick in for another six years so I’ll be here for a bit yet. I couldn’t give a sh*t about Edmonton at this point and this crummy town could fall off the face of the earth for all I care, but hey I’m here for a bit yet so if you want to get together hit my up.. I am downtown every day, same place so shoot me a PM and we’ll do a coffee

    Power to you my friend I don’t know how you maintain the stregth!
    “...getting back to where I belong. Alas the S.O.’s pension doesn’t kick in for another six years so I’ll be here for a bit yet. I couldn’t give a sh*t about Edmonton at this point and this crummy town could fall off the face of the earth for all I care, but hey I’m here for a bit yet... ”



    Where are you going after you leave Edmonton?

    I hope you agree that your own situation may be providing a good case for raising taxes here. Alberta is depleting it’s resources to provide good incomes but those earning a living here aren’t necessarily ploughing their earnings back into the economy but rather may be strip mining it for all its worth with the intention of taking the money and running. Additionally, once some people leave, they may not serve as the best boosters of the place that sustained them. In fact, they may even be able to impart considerable harm on the economy and innocent people living here through bashing the city and not just those individuals that created negative experiences. (Think Trump and his comments about people from countries he disparaged.)
    Last edited by KC; 03-02-2019 at 09:44 AM.

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    Beautiful British Columbia of course! More specifically the Southern Interior

    I don’t know if raising taxes is such a good idea but seems to happen regardless, I’m not sure what good that would do though. You are right though, we are indeed hoarding cash and spending as little as possible here, outside of our home that is. But really even that is an investment in re-sale to a degree which will of course be coming with us when we leave. Even when I buy supplies for our cabin in BC I do it in 100 Mile House or Kamloops.

    I don’t know how much damage you need to worry about Edmonton expats doing, this place doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation to begin with outside the city & province. I don’t know how much economic damage can be done by people speaking negativity of Edmonton but I assure you, once we are gone I doubt I’ll give this place another thought.

    But back to our PV system, we did almost 50kWh in Jan, which isn’t a ton but still covered about 1.5-2 days power consumption for the house. Things should really start turning around next month
    Last edited by 240GLT; 05-02-2019 at 01:12 PM.

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