Author Topic: Going Solar  (Read 2867 times)

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Offline Tassie Dave

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Re: Going Solar
« Reply #60 on: November 11, 2018, 12:51:45 AM »
Are you guys stuck with only one electricity retailer? Here we can choose from many dozens.

Some of us can.  ??? Tasmania still has only 1. The same one we've had for over a century.

Offline wastrel

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Re: Going Solar
« Reply #61 on: November 11, 2018, 10:28:53 AM »
Are you guys stuck with only one electricity retailer? Here we can choose from many dozens.

Who owns the facilities?

Offline Alex Simmons

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Re: Going Solar
« Reply #62 on: November 11, 2018, 03:36:31 PM »
Are you guys stuck with only one electricity retailer? Here we can choose from many dozens.

Who owns the facilities?
We have 4 separate entities in our electricity market covering the most populous parts of the nation:
- Generators - power stations of various types
- Distributors - the grid, poles & wires (there's a handful of these)
- Metering systems (a handful of businesses own all the meters, and the retailer pays them a lease fee for each customer)
- Energy retailers (there are dozens of these)

The historical legacy of former state owned vertically integrated businesses means in some locations there is still a monopoly, e.g. in Tasmania there is only one retailer of electricity. The market there is heavily price regulated by the state government which is the primary control mechanism keeping the monopoly in check. Their prices there aren't horrible by national standards but for new grid connected solar Tasmanians get a raw deal with a very low feed in tariff.

In more populous states the market has broken up significantly from the old state-owned days. There is still significant ownership overlap between the vertical segments, mainly those businesses who were formerly state owned monopolies.

As a consumer you need to deal with the retailer primarily for your energy plan, but occasionally you may need to deal with the grid distribution company, e.g. if the connection to your home has been damaged, or you want to know what's caused a power outage.

When I go to find a new electricity plan, there are literally thousands of options available. Working out which is the best option takes some effort, but at least there are some reasonable consolidation sites (a good one is run by the federal government) to provide as close to an apples with apples comparison but so many people choose not to bother to shop around.

In Australia it's called the "lazy tax". People can't be arsed to seek a better deal from their energy retailers, banks, insurance companies, phone and internet service providers.

Offline Billzbub

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Re: Going Solar
« Reply #63 on: November 12, 2018, 05:07:14 PM »
The plot thickens (for me).  We spoke to a solar contractor, and they said that our roof may not support all the panels necessary.  They are coming out Friday to check it out.

They said that they had a community solar farm built and about to be approved, and they want to know if I'm interested in that.  The solar farm has an agreement with NYSEG (the local power company) and provides them power.  I would pay for a share in the solar farm (somehow, will find out Friday), and NYSEG will credit my bill by however much I should get from selling that much percent of the power generated by the solar farm.  So basically, it would be about the same financially as having solar panels, but I wouldn't actually be getting any power from solar.  The power grid right around the solar farm would be getting their power from solar, though, so for the environment, it is still a good deal.  I thought that it might be a great idea, especially since I don't have to install anything.

Now, we come to the plot twist.  It turns out the reason my wife wants us to go solar is because she wants us to have power if the electric grid ever goes down for some reason (zombie apocalypse, etc).  I can see how this would be desirable.  The solar contractor said that we would need a backup battery system to accomplish this, and that they cost more.

When they come Friday, they will come with all of these options spelled out with costs and terms.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they say.
Quote from: Steven Novella
gleefully altering one’s beliefs to accommodate new information should be a badge of honor

Offline Alex Simmons

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Re: Going Solar
« Reply #64 on: November 12, 2018, 09:35:22 PM »
Now, we come to the plot twist.  It turns out the reason my wife wants us to go solar is because she wants us to have power if the electric grid ever goes down for some reason (zombie apocalypse, etc).  I can see how this would be desirable.  The solar contractor said that we would need a backup battery system to accomplish this, and that they cost more.

Not only would it require a battery (an expensive and rarely a cost effective option) but the inverter / battery combination has to be special type to enable this.

That's because it's a requirement (usually the law) that grid connected solar (and battery) be immediately prevented from delivering power to the grid during a power outage. Usually what happens during grid outages is your solar system's inverter will automatically shut down, meaning even though your PV panels might be under full sun, you will still be out of power.

This is to safeguard line workers doing any repairs to the grid.

Now there are some inverter systems which can automatically shut down the connection to the grid while still delivering power to the house from a battery, but not all such battery-inverter solutions can do this.

It can be a very expensive solution to achieve some power outage capacity. If this is what you want, you'll need to specify this capability as just having a battery doesn't automatically mean you can access its stored energy during a grid power outage.

To have some power during an outage it's often way cheaper to have a portable generator on hand so you can keep the important things running (e.g. refrigeration, some lights, computers if that's needed for work etc). This is of course an interruptible power supply (not UPS) meaning there is some time between between when power goes out and you get (some) power again. An extra option is to have a small portable UPS unit(s) to enable computers, routers, perhaps internet connected devices such as set top boxes etc to function during such outages, or at least buy time to enable a safe shut down. They come in various energy capacities and so may buy you a few minutes to a few hours.

Here's an item on UPS by one manufacturer - I'm not endorsing them in particular, it's just a reference to explain their basic utility:
https://www.apc.com/au/en/support/product-support/ups-buying-guide-for-selecting-a-battery-backup-system.jsp

Here's an item to explain some of the basic technical considerations with battery storage:
https://www.solarchoice.net.au/blog/home-solar-battery-storage-backup

Offline Billzbub

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Re: Going Solar
« Reply #65 on: November 13, 2018, 12:07:07 PM »
Again, that was extremely helpful.  Now I'll be informed when I meet the person Friday and when I talk to my wife about it.
Quote from: Steven Novella
gleefully altering one’s beliefs to accommodate new information should be a badge of honor

Offline Alex Simmons

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Re: Going Solar
« Reply #66 on: November 19, 2018, 03:27:56 AM »
Again, that was extremely helpful.  Now I'll be informed when I meet the person Friday and when I talk to my wife about it.
How did it go?

Offline 2397

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Re: Going Solar
« Reply #67 on: November 19, 2018, 05:35:31 AM »
Are you guys stuck with only one electricity retailer? Here we can choose from many dozens.

I use the municipal hydropower company that also owns the power lines, and it can't get any cheaper because you have to pay for line use anyway, but there's a cap on the electricity price for municipal residents.

Doesn't stop others from trying to sell you electricity, though, and it's essentially a scam if they say they'll save you money. Unless there's some dramatic innovation that reduces the electricity prices to be consistently below the cap.

 

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