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Thread: real, honest, and true alternative energy systems for Edmonton?

  1. #1
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    Default real, honest, and true alternative energy systems for Edmonton?

    Hey all,

    Well. I received some news...I think I am about to lose my home to industry.

    There are a couple major expansions out my way that is turning my place into a nuisance for a few businesses...and I am being told to, well, screw off. Yay, litigation...

    GAAAAH


    That said, I do have an opportunity to do some reworking of my land (if the County would just stop putting up roadblocks...another story). If I can pull this off, I do have a chance to seriously explore alternative energy solutions.

    The 300 acre parcel I can carve off and save is un-serviced, and beautifully isolated. No NG, no grid tie... I have some quotes for 100 amp service and NG extensions, and I plan to build a more energy efficient envelope, but I am having a hard time getting some real, honest quotes and performance data on residential geothermal and solar. Right now, one estimate I have is $180,000 installed for geothermal heating and solar power, where power + NG is about 20K all in. The other kicker...the company STRONGLY suggests I still get NG extended for a backup generator, and grid tie. So, I'd be at $200K, plus distribution fees, taxes, and generation fees...how in the hell is this any savings over just going on grid?

    So...any ideas out there? Any good companies to recommend? or...just shut up and grid tie and burn NG? ...because right now, that seems like the best option by a country mile.
    Since calm logic doesn't work, I guess it is time to employ sarcasm. ...and before you call me an a-hole...remember, I am a Dick.

  2. #2

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    Just curious about what you are sitting on now that you are going to carve off 300 acres.

    Anyway, despite utility lines’ magical ability to allow your money to flow upstream as gas, water, electricity flow into your house, they don’t seem like such bad deals. With a public utility (PU) there generally no huge upfront capital requirements , no warranty battles, no unexpected parts backorder delays, no installation hassles, no weird hesitant building inspector delays with the obligatory 10 visits to the county office, no forever haunting installer shortcuts*, no ongoing maintenance, no requirement to become an ‘expert’ in one more thing. Then in 20 years no global search for a reburbished but many-tentacled mystery part** because of the standard supplier response: “Gee, that’s a Chinese made Gen 2 Dingus-amatic and I haven’t seen one of those in years. Let us upgrade you’re entire system system with the new Indian made $25,000 Gen 12 Thingopotamus. Then when you sell, half the potential buyers don’t see $ savings in front of their eyes but instead see fear of the unknown. Best case, like added insulation, higher quality insulation, triple-pane windows, etc. you get zero negative price adjustment for atypical features and you just pass on value as a gift to the next owner.

    Moreover, the large upfront capital outlay is just more money into the household asset (into one basket) and less money available for investment diversification purposes and diversified cash flow.

    Just hold your nose and go PU. Grid-and-bear-it.


    * a friend just had a new in ground cistern installed last summer (old one in basement was open and they found that mice had even died in it) but the installer failed to put the depth sensor wiring in a conduit so luckily a first winter failure occurred and a spring time warranty repair is on the horizon. Dip stick until then. I wonder what will get damaged next as in the repair.

    ** ever try to get a simple appliance part? When our 15-yr old mid-90s over-the-counter convection microwave quit I wanted to repair it. It was stainless steel inside, white outside so near zero maintenance. Nice. Well it was an LG made KitchenAid unit. Searching online for parts was a waste of time. The local repair shop even suggested just scrapping it rather than bringing it in. Thousands of dollars later all new matching stainless steel appliances that show fingerprints, streaks, etc. and the new KitchenAid microwave is white inside and is tougher to wipe out than the old one.
    Last edited by KC; 28-01-2018 at 08:07 AM.

  3. #3

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    Is your land being expropriated or are they just offering money for you to move?
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

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    ^ right now, it is the typical hubris of larger companies that they found a rural hick with no intelligence...so we'll just run him over...literally. No $$ offered on one initiative, another an extremely lowball and insulting offer...

    After this past Friday...they finally received a huge eye opener. That stereotype is outdated...and people out here are not pushovers...hence my "yay litigation" comment. But...that is a conversation for another thread...

    @KC...Q1 ~500ac

    Loved the grid and bear it comment!

    I agree with what you say. It aligns to my professional experience in Generation, as well as all the research so far into residential off grid solar, etc. The presentations I've received to date claim huge payback timelines, but then they omit the regular maintenance, hours spent fixing, monitoring, etc. As I see it, you never make money. You're always upgrading, monitoring, getting new batteries, maintenance on your rather large min $30K generator (which is not built for continuous use, only emergency), fees to get on the grid to sell power...

    Plus, the small solar experiment I have out here now is..well..abysmal. If I had to rely on solar this winter, I'd be burning chords and chords of wood...relying on a hand pump well...and an outhouse.

    I am just trying to see if there is anything out there that actually backs up the installer's hyper-claims, the current renewable energy rhetoric, and promises of making $$$ off of your renewable generation set up. I am trying to educate myself, and given my history with large scale generation, I am actually up to a micro generation to small scale generation concept. I have the land for other initiatives as well...that align to the green, food security, etc rhetoric...yet...when I actually sit down pen-to-paper and look for others to invest...the meeting sounds like crickets. Even our current provincial administrators are absolutely not interested...laughed at the 80 ac of perfectly south facing solar land for a potential generation site (and would be immediately adjacent to a new 550kv power line they shoved down my throat). So...eating their own dogfood...not.

    The root is that I am trying to turn a bad situation around by being proactive and making lemonade out of these lemons by trying to align future opportunity to the alleged future world. Pick myself up by my own bootstraps...be the author of my own success... The lack of support, combined with snake oil salespeople and technology so not ready for primetime as far as I can see...well...no wonder people are so jaded.
    Since calm logic doesn't work, I guess it is time to employ sarcasm. ...and before you call me an a-hole...remember, I am a Dick.

  5. #5

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    Being proactive. You mean like changing your house over to LEDs etc only to be asked to pay more taxes via the carbon tax to subsidize all those that refused to be proactive. You got to pay early adopter prices thus reducing your payback and then pay again.

    I wonder: if the NDP’s “Residential No-Charge Energy Savings Program / Energy Efficiency Alberta” people came to my house and saw that I already had a self bought and paid for LED lightbulb in place, would they give me another? I’d guess not. But they might if they go to thd house of the guy that refuses to step up and do something for the environment unless someone else is paying for most of it.

    So much of what we hear and buy-into is really just a farce. It’s like a company or a political party spewing off about family values being important, supporting the family, etc. Same with environmentalism, being green, etc. Lots of talk, money on meetings, committees, studies, reports, media, etc but in the end it’s really just talk and don’t expect any substantive implementation touching you and me unless it’s you and Me being asked to pay more in taxes in order to subsidize some existing major player in making a conversion. (The exceptions being the Residential No-Charge Energy Savings Program / Energy Efficiency Alberta initiative and Ralph bucks, and maybe the raising of lowest marginal tax bracket rate.)

    There will never be a family friendly or grass-roots friendly policy to match the hype. You might see some token gestures but don’t expect any developments to reflect anything close to the original propaganda. It really is very farcical. You are on your own.

    A great example is the response by many countries to the 2008/08 financial crisis. As people lost their jobs and then their houses, savings etc, politicians made their speeches but did next to nothing to actually support the voters most affected. Among tens of countries deploying assistance I’d bet that the hundreds of billions of not trillions in taxpayer backed assistance was delivered top down via the banking system or directly to major corporations to save the banking system and major companies respectively (GM bailout etc which saved jobs). Overall thought, the poor got poorer, their defaulting mortgages resulted in foreclosure, they were bankrupted according to the rules, while the rules were only rewritten for the banks and corporations.
    Last edited by KC; 28-01-2018 at 05:59 PM.

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    That's exactly what I am seeing...

    I also don't see Fortis, Altalink, etc rushing to worry about competition. In fact, when I talked to Fortis directly about some of the subsidies for solar, etc, and getting on grid...they presented their numbers.

    When I said it didn't make sense, the lady just smiled and said...when do we start brushing for the line?

    They're not worried about off grid. Not...one...bit....
    Since calm logic doesn't work, I guess it is time to employ sarcasm. ...and before you call me an a-hole...remember, I am a Dick.

  7. #7

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    It’s like banks. Threaten them with a requirement to deliver an annual statement to each customer of annual fees and interest paid and they’d flip out. Suggest to the utilities that all houses get solar sets and they’d flip out (look at Hawaii). However, their ability to flip out and effectively put a stop to any grassroots level initiative and any real change is the reality. Again look at Hawaii.

  8. #8

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    Richard. You cannot listen to the eco-advocates of solar power and alternative energy. Solar is MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE than the grid. I know a lot about this technology but the eco-advocates get angry when you tell the truth about it. Even people who are interested in solar panels get angry when you tell the truth. If you want to know more you can ask me, but do thorough research before investing in this technology. You will be defrauded if you're not very careful.
    "Without feedbacks, a doubling of CO2 would result in 1 ░C global warming, which is undisputed." Climate sensitivity, Wikipedia

  9. #9

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    Support the 3rd world, their solar panels cost less.
    Edmonton first, everything else second.

  10. #10

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    Turn solar power into Bitcoin mining...

    Cheap electricity rates have miners digging for Bitcoin, not dino bones in Drumheller
    Cheap energy crucial for profiting off cryptocurrency
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgar...ller-1.4508043
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  11. #11

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    You will always need to be on grid as a backup. But you can start small with solar and then expand later. Are you talking one big building or do you have a few? My experience is residential so not really the same, but I'm doing a bit at a time...

    I added solar to my camper which means I never have to plug it in at home to top up the battery, and I don't have to pay for sites with power. Since it was only $200 for the kit on sale, doesn't take long to recoup that.

    My shed is also powered by solar for exterior lighting and charging all my power tools and electric mower. It does have 110 from my house for winter because I use heat sometimes, but I usually shut off the breaker so that it can run itself. The lights last all night even in winter provided I brush off the panels.

    Other than that there are other little things I do at home. I have a solar power pack I paid $30 for a best buy that sits in my kitchen window. That's where we charge our cells phones and tablets and they all get fully charged off of solar power. That and our entire house is LED inside and out. Before adding in all the delivery fees and admin fees and other BS fees on the electricity bill, we only use around $10 of electricity per month. The rest are all the extra fees...

    I know residential ideas don't always work in a business, but if you have any smaller buildings, you could always just start with those.

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    Thanks. It seems we've taken a similar approach. I did try with the RV for a bit, and for minor use, it was fine. If you wanted heat or especially A/C...different story. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but to recharge and maintain a fridge was one thing.

    I'm curious as you your comment on your shed staying powered all night. I tried with a 15 x 25 shed, I went LED, it's unheated, but without good sun days, I can't get it to last. Winter is a hell no. With the longer summer days, I get by.

    I hear you on the fees BS. My last electric bill was $23 in usage, $183 in fees and taxes. That's what got me re energized into looking at options. Either way, it seems a backup generator is required, but when I add up the TCO on being on grid v grid tie v off grid...being on grid seems the best long term. I don't have to monitor, I don't have to worry about obsolescence, outages are resolved with a call to Fortis ( to their credit, they've been stellar), and I'm not eating a colossal up front investment for little to no return.
    Since calm logic doesn't work, I guess it is time to employ sarcasm. ...and before you call me an a-hole...remember, I am a Dick.

  13. #13

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    Have you had Fortis come out & see if they can reduce your demand charges? I'm guessing you've likely got a fairly substantial service to warrant that $183 in fees & it may be more than you need, especially as you've been taking steps to reduce your consumption.
    Giving less of a damn than everů Can't laugh at the ignorant if you ignore them!

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
    Thanks. It seems we've taken a similar approach. I did try with the RV for a bit, and for minor use, it was fine. If you wanted heat or especially A/C...different story. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but to recharge and maintain a fridge was one thing.

    I'm curious as you your comment on your shed staying powered all night. I tried with a 15 x 25 shed, I went LED, it's unheated, but without good sun days, I can't get it to last. Winter is a hell no. With the longer summer days, I get by.

    I hear you on the fees BS. My last electric bill was $23 in usage, $183 in fees and taxes. That's what got me re energized into looking at options. Either way, it seems a backup generator is required, but when I add up the TCO on being on grid v grid tie v off grid...being on grid seems the best long term. I don't have to monitor, I don't have to worry about obsolescence, outages are resolved with a call to Fortis ( to their credit, they've been stellar), and I'm not eating a colossal up front investment for little to no return.
    Air conditioning in the RV will definitely need 110v. You could run the heat as well, but the fan will wear down a battery pretty quick. My battery in my trailer is 85AH with 100w solar. We rarely spend time in it other than eating, sleeping or using the bathroom. Most of the power usage is from the outside "porch light" which we leave on until we go to bed, the water pump, a stereo and small roof vent fan which I only run for an hour or so before going to bed to cool it off a bit. Also ALL my lights in my camper have been converted to LED. I also always run my fridge in propane-mode so it uses zero electricity.

    My shed has three 12v LED porch lights that you would find next to an RV's door on the outside and some 12v LED dome lights inside, again, same thing you'd find in an RV/camper. The outside lights are enough to light up the whole back yard. 200w solar panels ($199 on sale from Canadian Tire) and 2 deep cycle batteries wired in parallel. An inverter makes 110v from the batteries, and on a summer's day I could easily charge all by tools and my mower and still recharge enough to have lights all night. I'll be throwing in a roof vent fan as well one day. It's basically its own little off-grid building, but I can turn my breaker on in the house to have on-grid 110v in there as well. The shed is only 10x10 so I get enough light inside with 2 double-dome lights.

    Things can get more expensive with upgrades, but those are for efficiency and not really 100% needed. Like the solar charge controllers, MPPT are more expensive than the PWM ones but will charge your batteries better. And depending on what you use for 110v, a pure-sine inverter might be needed which is again more expensive than a standard one. For me it's kind of a hobby project and I like that I don't use grid-power for everything. The sunshine is free! You just have to invest in equipment.
    Last edited by alkeli; 29-01-2018 at 12:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by noodle View Post
    Have you had Fortis come out & see if they can reduce your demand charges? I'm guessing you've likely got a fairly substantial service to warrant that $183 in fees & it may be more than you need, especially as you've been taking steps to reduce your consumption.

    Yes, I have. They said there was nothing they could do as I am rural. These are the costs. Period. It is scaled just in case I suddenly build a dairy barn. If I built a subdivision, then the transformer rent et al could be absorbed.
    Since calm logic doesn't work, I guess it is time to employ sarcasm. ...and before you call me an a-hole...remember, I am a Dick.

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    Our two cabins are side by side so just one service line but our consumption is at most a few dollars a year but that privilege costs us dearly in connection fees. (Have a big old Onan generator in our old generator shed but going back to that has issues (battery, fuel, fuel transfer, fuel delivery, noise, building maint., etc) But grid is maybe 400X consumption. No natural gas service. Our heat is is old, old smoking coal and wood stoves. We have one propane wall heater - needing a propane tank. (Our plumbing infrastructure is hauling drinking water in containers and the old outhouse method for human waste.)

    Additionally I hate the pollution (in and out) from burning wood and coal so my plan was to try just electricity. Total absolute fail in my case. A year back I tried heating our main cabin with electric heaters (3 @ ~750 watts and all the incandescent lights on). Over 3-4 hours I got the temperature up about 1-2 degrees above freezing. I can’t imagine how solar / battery or solar-to-grid could do much in terms of providing heat at any kind of reasonable cost.

    The game to play for us with low utilization property is to eliminate service providers and their fixed charges. For a full time rural residence I think it would be both tough financially and savjbgs eould be offset by the hassle factor.

    For instance if we were to get a natural gas line run into the property maybe a natural gas generator could be used to eliminate the electric service provider. (Maybe same with a big propane tank - add a big furnace plus a generator.). That’s all well and good until someone steals you generator.

    So in our case we need to first resurrect the propane wall heater to see how much heat that can provide. ...but in the cold propane has issues - the pressure drops off. Tank sizing also presents issues. Small tank and we need to take it in to fill it - and dventodidpose and replace. Big tank and they will deliver. Rent - costly I’d we don’t use the place a lot. So I may buy a used 600 gal tank. Now I have to become an expert on everything to do with propane before going too far down that path. It’s always a PITA just getting the basics when you’re a distance from services and can’t justify the connection and on going - ignoring consumption!
    Last edited by KC; 29-01-2018 at 03:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alkeli View Post
    (...)

    My shed has three 12v LED porch lights that you would find next to an RV's door on the outside and some 12v LED dome lights inside, again, same thing you'd find in an RV/camper. (...)


    Things can get more expensive with upgrades, but those are for efficiency and not really 100% needed. Like the solar charge controllers, MPPT are more expensive than the PWM ones but will charge your batteries better. And depending on what you use for 110v, a pure-sine inverter might be needed which is again more expensive than a standard one. For me it's kind of a hobby project and I like that I don't use grid-power for everything. The sunshine is free! You just have to invest in equipment.
    Thanks for the reply. I went 110v completely in the shed, so maybe that is where I fail as you went 12v with lighting. I just find 12v lacking when it comes to shop lighting. It is great for an RV...

    The last sentence is what I wonder about. After I have converted all of my lighting to much more efficient systems...the draw is noticeably less. So, with some of the outside lighting for ambience drawing under .1 amps, chargers for cells not drawing much, etc...is the investment in panels worth it vs just using the grid power? It will take a lot of cell phone charging, and LED lighting, to make back the $500+ in some investments. Yes, I too had the spare cash to try the experiment to see (on a small scale using Coleman Crappy Tire Panels) if there was any real advantage.

    It seems the lesson here is...off grid only if you HAVE to...
    Since calm logic doesn't work, I guess it is time to employ sarcasm. ...and before you call me an a-hole...remember, I am a Dick.

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    What about using solar + wind? They would be at least partly complementary, reducing the amount of generation overcapacity and battery storage required for a reliable off-grid system.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by alkeli View Post
    (...)

    My shed has three 12v LED porch lights that you would find next to an RV's door on the outside and some 12v LED dome lights inside, again, same thing you'd find in an RV/camper. (...)


    Things can get more expensive with upgrades, but those are for efficiency and not really 100% needed. Like the solar charge controllers, MPPT are more expensive than the PWM ones but will charge your batteries better. And depending on what you use for 110v, a pure-sine inverter might be needed which is again more expensive than a standard one. For me it's kind of a hobby project and I like that I don't use grid-power for everything. The sunshine is free! You just have to invest in equipment.
    Thanks for the reply. I went 110v completely in the shed, so maybe that is where I fail as you went 12v with lighting. I just find 12v lacking when it comes to shop lighting. It is great for an RV...

    The last sentence is what I wonder about. After I have converted all of my lighting to much more efficient systems...the draw is noticeably less. So, with some of the outside lighting for ambience drawing under .1 amps, chargers for cells not drawing much, etc...is the investment in panels worth it vs just using the grid power? It will take a lot of cell phone charging, and LED lighting, to make back the $500+ in some investments. Yes, I too had the spare cash to try the experiment to see (on a small scale using Coleman Crappy Tire Panels) if there was any real advantage.

    It seems the lesson here is...off grid only if you HAVE to...
    You're right about the lighting. The 12v lights work well to see what I'm doing, but if I'm working on something for a while then it's nice to use better lights. I do however also have a strip of plexi in the roof that lets daylight in which helps a lot.

    My goal was never to be 100% off-grid. Like I said, residential/commercial applications are very different especially when I'm doing it almost just for fun. The camper was definitely a winning project since I can stay anywhere with no power hookup indefinitely provided the sun comes up, and I don't let the propane run out (dual-tanks for swapping is handy).

    As for the shed, it was a "for-fun" project, and if I were to do my house, the investment in equipment would scale up quite a bit and yes, returns would take a while.

    The problem always lies with the fact that you can't be completely off-grid, at least not for residential, and I think it's actually illegal. On one hand you should always have grid power as a backup. On the other hand, being hooked up to grid means you're paying all those extra fees. Like I mentioned before, we pay about $10 for our actual usage, and the rest are BS fees. So going full-solar at home but still having grid power as a backup would only really save us $10/month. For real savings, you would have to completely disconnect which like I mentioned, is probably illegal. But not paying any power grid fees at all would start paying off in 4-8 years. But then at that point, you have to start thinking about maintenance costs, replacing battery banks etc...

    It's very hard to get into right now for large-scale applications or being 100% grid-free unless you're already off the grid, and bringing power in will cost more than going solar.
    Last edited by alkeli; 01-02-2018 at 10:27 AM.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by alkeli View Post
    Like I mentioned before, we pay about $10 for our actual usage, and the rest are BS fees.
    TIL that recovering costs essential to the maintenance, monitoring & performance of the distribution & tranmission systems are "BS fees".

    http://www.auc.ab.ca/utility-sector/...ectricity.aspx

    Distribution charges.

    Distributors or wire owners such as FortisAlberta Inc., ATCO Electric Ltd. and rural electrification associations own the electric distribution systems that deliver electricity directly to customer homes within designated service areas. They are responsible for things such as connecting and disconnecting customers, building new services, operating and maintaining the distribution systems and information systems, and providing meter reading services.


    The costs incurred by the wire owner to provide these services are recovered through a distribution tariff, which is billed by the retailer on customer bills. Distribution tariff charges for electric utilities remain fully regulated by the AUC through performance-based regulation.
    Emphasis mine.

    Hilarious that you're cognizant of the cost to build your own mini-grid while simultaneously discounting the cost to maintain & run the public infrastructure.
    Giving less of a damn than everů Can't laugh at the ignorant if you ignore them!

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    Quote Originally Posted by alkeli View Post
    It's very hard to get into right now for large-scale applications or being 100% grid-free unless you're already off the grid, and bringing power in will cost more than going solar.
    Pretty much. Hard to compete with a grid-tie that only costs 20k for both gas and electricity. Fully off-grid makes more sense for a really isolated location where bringing power lines in would be much more expensive.

  22. #22

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    I think the best approach is to resign oneself to the notion that grid connectivity is not only cost effective and reliable but just plain old nice to have. Given that, you could be better off altering the design of a property to minimize consumption if it can also improve your quality of life. Orientation of the house. Placement of outbuilding to shelter the living space, etc. Improved insulation. Better windows and window sizing for passive heating benefits, etc.

    A note about the grid. While you are paying a share of the system expansion costs, you are also sharing the cost of system replacement. Going it alone puts all the costs and risks on the homeowner. Depreciation is rarely offset with savings for replacement so future replacement may have to be financed or at that point abandoned. If it’s abandoned in order to say sell the property, then costs may be much higher and entail future code compliance issues.

  23. #23

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    Might be worth a read about how Bob Chelmick (ex-CBC, current CKUA) is doing off-grid:
    http://www.greenenergyfutures.ca/epi...-powered-cabin Though it's called a "cabin", he lives there year-round with a menagerie of dogs and horses and nature and does his radio show from his home studio.

    http://www.greenenergyfutures.ca has other examples of off-gridders.
    I am in no way entitled to your opinion...

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    Quote Originally Posted by noodle View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by alkeli View Post
    Like I mentioned before, we pay about $10 for our actual usage, and the rest are BS fees.
    TIL that recovering costs essential to the maintenance, monitoring & performance of the distribution & tranmission systems are "BS fees".

    http://www.auc.ab.ca/utility-sector/...ectricity.aspx

    Distribution charges.

    Distributors or wire owners such as FortisAlberta Inc., ATCO Electric Ltd. and rural electrification associations own the electric distribution systems that deliver electricity directly to customer homes within designated service areas. They are responsible for things such as connecting and disconnecting customers, building new services, operating and maintaining the distribution systems and information systems, and providing meter reading services.


    The costs incurred by the wire owner to provide these services are recovered through a distribution tariff, which is billed by the retailer on customer bills. Distribution tariff charges for electric utilities remain fully regulated by the AUC through performance-based regulation.
    Emphasis mine.

    Hilarious that you're cognizant of the cost to build your own mini-grid while simultaneously discounting the cost to maintain & run the public infrastructure.
    I get that distribution and transmission infrastructure costs money to build and maintain, but so do generation facilities. The latter require fuel purchases, more frequent maintenance and don't last as long, but for most customers the energy cost (which is the generators only source of revenue) is less than half of the total bill.

  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    I get that distribution and transmission infrastructure costs money to build and maintain, but so do generation facilities. The latter require fuel purchases, more frequent maintenance and don't last as long, but for most customers the energy cost (which is the generators only source of revenue) is less than half of the total bill.
    If you think the over five thousand kilometers of grid & ~35 substations inside the city doesn't require constant ongoing maintenance I don't know what to say. I mean, EPCOR just replaced every single power meter in Edmonton over the last 18 months. The whole shebang. Transformers & other infrastructure all have a finite lifespan. And that doesn't even account for the work required to energize the ever-expanding periphery. Plus it's the responsibility of the Wires Owner, not the Retailler, to calculate consumption & ensure that the numbers all line up.

    There's a lot of work that goes into making sure you've got power; I guess it's a testament to EPCOR's reliability that you think the grid must be so simple & inexpensive to maintain.
    Last edited by noodle; 02-02-2018 at 09:55 AM. Reason: Accidentally a word.
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    I didn't say no maintenance, I said less frequent maintenance compared to a generation facility that has regular maintenance shutdowns. The power meter replacement was an upgrade to allow remote reading - most of the old meters would have continued functioning for decades. Transformers are also needed to upload power onto the grid and thus are a cost for generators as well. If developers are not paying the full cost of providing electrical infrastructure to new subdivisions, we have another example of a sprawl subsidy that should be fixed.

    Epcor does seem to do a better job of containing costs than Atco though, where the fixed charges are pushing $50/month and the cost of gas can be as low as 10% of my bill, and barely reaches 50% even in mid-winter.

  27. #27
    C2E Junkie *
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    It's why I am with EPCOR here. I have no complaints about their work, and even though my distribution and transmission costs are high, FORTIS is on the ball when things go south.

    My experience with ATCO, on many levels...expletives don't do it justice...the best I can say is that they sure do lie well.
    Since calm logic doesn't work, I guess it is time to employ sarcasm. ...and before you call me an a-hole...remember, I am a Dick.

  28. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    I didn't say no maintenance, I said less frequent maintenance compared to a generation facility that has regular maintenance shutdowns.
    Exactly my point. Generation facilities can have downtime. The distribution & transmission system? Not so much. Average downtime in Edmonton for 2017 was something like 56 minutes. There's a lot of redundancy, preventative maintenance & routine proactive work done to keep the grid running, constantly.
    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    The power meter replacement was an upgrade to allow remote reading - most of the old meters would have continued functioning for decades.
    Not true in the slightest. Meters have to be constantly pulled, tested & re-certified by Measurement Canada to get extensions over the usual ~15 year lifespan of a meter. Would they have functioned? Sure, they'd work. But they'd not have the required accuracy. Some larger meters have lifespans under 5 years before they'd need to be pulled, either for testing or replacement. Remote reading is only the most externally visible, customer facing benefit to having the new meters in place. There's a huge amount of data now available that allows EPCOR to ensure that substations & other infrastructure is "right-sized" & not overbuilt, or instantly detect outages at a much finer granularity & so forth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    Transformers are also needed to upload power onto the grid and thus are a cost for generators as well. If developers are not paying the full cost of providing electrical infrastructure to new subdivisions, we have another example of a sprawl subsidy that should be fixed.
    That'd be transmission, not distribution & thanks to the Klein deregulation of the industry what used to be a charge borne by the generator is now passed on to the end consumer. Big gift to the large corporations that control generation, as the grid is now someone else's bill entirely.

    Epcor does seem to do a better job of containing costs than Atco though, where the fixed charges are pushing $50/month and the cost of gas can be as low as 10% of my bill, and barely reaches 50% even in mid-winter.
    The amount of regulation that the wires (not retail) side of the business is subjected to is huge & very thorough, so it's a combination of the company & the regulators that keep the charges where they are. The next filing is a move to Performance Based Rates, so now they'll have an even tighter belt because perfect performance would let them raise rates in accordance with inflation, so treading water as it were. If there's cost overruns it's entirely borne by them, there's no way for them to recover the costs in a subsequent filing.

    In ATCO's defense, the actual gas is stupid, stupid cheap right now but unfortunately the cost to maintain their network isn't proportionally small. Meter readers don't work on commission.
    Giving less of a damn than everů Can't laugh at the ignorant if you ignore them!

  29. #29

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    All that said, you’d think off grid would present substantial savings but it it doesn’t appear to be the case. No admin costs, management and labour costs, etc.

    Fronting all the costs for off grid, sizing for peak demand / load, paying for low production run (sub-optimized production) off-grid systems combined with their lack of practical reliable supply just can’t beat large scale public utility systems.

    Similarly, off-grid shortwave is really cool, but who does it? Even when you can (like my uncle could with his hand held short-wave) make calls while in the mountains where there was no cell service.
    Last edited by KC; 02-02-2018 at 08:30 PM.

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