Saturday, January 2, 2010

Unofficial Results for first week

Our first two whole days of operation seem to have generated $15.00 worth (to us) of electricity!  Good sunny days with temperature in the fifties. 

The next two days, 12/31 and 1/1/10 were as dark and gloomy as you can get.  We generated about a dollar's worth of electricity those two days.  Total.  However, there is enough known about the weather in your, and my, locality  that it is easy to design a PV system to account for the cloudy days.   An experienced vendor will be able to account for the inefficient days by making your system larger. 

For our first four full days, my impression is that we've used less than $4.00 per day in electricity or less than $16 total.   We generated about $16.00 worth in that same period.  So, by the seat of my pants, we are making our goal that our investment was designed to meet.

Our particular inverter, used for converting the solar panel's DC electricity into AC, has an LCD display that cycles through about 20 elements of data to tell us how we are doing every 15 seconds or so. 
There is a computer inside the inverter that calculates what the daily dollar value is of the electricity generated that day.   That is how we come to know our daily result.  Our inverter is an Aurora Power One 6000.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Reason to Appreciate a Sunny Day

Our vendor, Southern Energy Management of Morrisville, NC, had promised to come back on the 28th to turn our system up.  They did.  And the system produced $3.40 of electricity yesterday afternoon! 

So, a whole new experience starts now.  We cut, split and burned wood to heat our Pennsylvania homes for about fifteen years.  Now we are on gas in NC, but have managed to come up with a way to at least generate as much solar electric energy, in dollar value, as we would have to buy to continue our lifestyle.  We are proud of getting in on this early.  And we are grateful to the people that opened their homes, like the Wagners, in October's Green Home tour and allowed us to learn first hand that this is an excellent time to make this kind of investment. 

I am willing to answer questions you may have about our experience.  Email me at

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Final My .............!

So, as of the 15th, we've had our final inspections and been interconnected with the "grid" utility, Greenville Utilities (GUC).  I can hardly say more about  the cooperation and attention given us by GUC. 

BUT, Southern Energy Management didn't turn the system on and we have to wait for December 28th for another person to come out and initialize the system.  So like a kid with his new car parked in the driveway, I'll wait a couple of weeks to have someone put the keys in my hand. 

GUC tells us we are the fifth system in their service area to install a PV system.  There are three more going in service after us, too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Final Day

After their last visit on the ninth, Southern Energy Management told us that they would be back to do the final cutover on the week of the 28th of December.  They explained that they wanted to spend the weather permitting days between the tenth and the twenty-eighth finishing up other installations that needed outside work done.  They allowed that they might be back sooner if the weather turned bad again.

Well tomorrow the fifteenth is supposed to have a probability of showers, so they have just called to say they'll be back.  It looks like Tuesday will be their last day here and we'll be generating electricity tomorrow afternoon. 

Interestingly, we will need to be without power for many hours, and perhaps all day tomorrow while the electric company's people disconnect our current power, the solar people do their wiring, the government inspector inspects and the electric company comes back out to plug us back in again.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Connections Scheduled Today

The managers at Southern Energy have practiced skills at interpreting weather forecasts.  They decided to jump in the trucks and come out from Raleigh to finish the connections on our installation.  They arrived in a downpour with lightening and thunder. 

But, it stopped within minutes.  They have a couple of hours work and there is a predicted couple of hour window of clearing expected today.  So maybe......

Our electric company came yesterday and installed a new meter to replace our old plus a new additional meter.  These meters are  for measuring, as were the old meters, plus they are recording data about our consumption and generation of electricity.  The new meters are also connected to our home phone line.   The utility will henceforth be able to dial our phone at 2:30a have it answered by the meter without disturbing us and receive data.  The data will be used to prepare our bill, and will inform the companies that will pay us incentives what energy we generated.  The data will be shared with us on a spreadsheet.

The utility told us that there are four systems going on line this month and that the total will then be eight systems.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hardware Installed!

Hardware is now installed on the roof.  Our inverter is wired and the conduit with wire is run through the attic to the area for the meter on the other end of our house (see photo below). 

Our local electric utility has come to pre-plan the installation of the additional and second meter.  This second meter will measure the electricity we generate which is connected to the "grid" (the public electric wires) which virtually makes the electricity available to anyone.  This meters measurements determine the money we will be able to collect from our electric utility and from the broker that has sold our SRECs.  From an earlier post, you may remember that we will collect $.048 per kWh from the utility and $.20 per kWh for the incentive payment from the broker.  We pay the electric utility, as measured by the original meter, about $.128 per kWh.  The margin or profit is what we use to pay ourselves back for having made the investment.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Some Panels Installed

The crew arrived a little before ten a.m. and were able to finish the rail installation, install more hold-down brackets on the roof and nearly half of the panels.  Tomorrow, clear weather is forecast, and they expect to install the last 14 panels and to run the wiring.