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Old 11-07-2006, 02:54 PM   #1
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Making money with Solar panels

I have been reading a lot lately about solar panels.
It seems to be a fact that if you power your home off of them, any unused energy can go back into the grid. Where the energy company will actually pay you money for the energy you are generating.

My question, is this.....


If the electric company is giving you money to supply them with energy. What does this equal out to as in $ per kwh?

Would it be worth it, to put solar panels up, and just pump this into the grid to make money off of the electric company? Without using it for your home at all?

Lets say, if you lived near a river, and rigged up a large amount of hydroelectric generators, and fed that into the grid?

Or maybe, hook up a ton of wind generators, and feed those directly into the grid.

What if one were to buy an acre of land. Using these 3 technologies, all for the purpose of supplying clean energy, and making money off of the electric company at the same time?
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Old 11-07-2006, 03:06 PM   #2
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The grid pays you about 1 or 2 cents per KWH and charged way mor ethan that so it basically doesn't pay. If you try to feed energy back into the grid I think they block the meter from turning backwards. I also heard that they don't power factor correct the metering so if you have a PF of anything other than 1 you end up paying the amp hours not the watt hours. This means you get screwed for a motor drawing current while it spins under no load conditions. Oh yeah and then if you do sell back to the frid they also charge (sue) you for the loss of income from the supplier of the power that your local power company buys their energy from.

PS: does someone want me to upgrade my membership?
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Old 11-07-2006, 03:48 PM   #3
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If there are regulations in place, it can pay well. But it's a big YMMV depending on state. And even if there's legislation in place like in CA, the utilities hate it because they loose money if they have to pay the going rate on your electricity.
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Old 11-07-2006, 05:25 PM   #4
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'Net metering' varies all over the place. In some cases, they don't give you squat. In other areas, they charge you what amounts to retail for what you use, and pay you effectively wholesale for what you contribute. This makes sense since they maintain the grid infrastructure. They can put 2 meters on your house. One has a ratchet for turning on one direction only. The other turns the other way so they can measure the power flow in each direction separately. Sometimes they charge you a base fee for being connected independent of the amount of power that flows.

In MA, if you apply for solar panel tax incentives, your system has to be grid tied and return surplus energy to the grid.
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Old 11-07-2006, 07:48 PM   #5
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FormulaTwo -

I may be wrong about this, but I heard that here in California, if your are just a homeowner, you can't sell to the grid beyond what your house is "sized" to draw. That is, if you build up a system that is generating way more electricity than the power company has determined that you need (based on historical usage?), then the extra electricity that goes into the grid is theirs for free because they won't have to compensate you for it.

It sounds like you are speculating on becoming a "teeny weeny green power company", which is not just an average homeowner, right?

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Old 11-07-2006, 09:03 PM   #6
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If you figure that at full price per Kilawatt hour that solar has around a 15-20 year pay back, that would meen that with net metering you get over a 100 year pay back, right?
where solar has the biggest pay back is in new construction, a friend of mine was looking in to having power lines run to there house, the power compeny was going to charge $7,000 to run the wires, and hook everything up, and then there is the monthly electric bill, meter reading fee, and all the other fees and taxes that are charged every month, so if they were to take that $7,000 and invest it in solar, then it really would have been an investment, it would have paid for a system that would have suplied electricity for many many years without a monthly bill.
trying to take a home sized renewable energy system, and use it as your retirement income is not normaly very practical because a home sized system is exactly that, a home sized system, and back feeding the grid is mostly a way to prevent that extra electricity from being wasted, or lost.
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Old 11-08-2006, 04:43 AM   #7
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Ryland I think you nailed it!

Also the grid connection requires one heck of an expensive inverter.
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Old 11-08-2006, 09:50 AM   #8
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Yes the payback on solar can vary from about 15 years in the Southwest to about 30+ years in the Northeast. You are far better off producing just enough power to power what you use rather then try to make money selling it back to the grid. As other have noted, say you generate 100% of your load and you regular power is $.15 / KW basically you were just paid $.15 per KW for your power generated. Now if you try to bulk sell that back to the grid you will likely get paid for wholesale prices, typically about 1/2 to 1/3 that of your base rate. So the time it would take to recover your cost is now double to triple the investment.

I have a small array, only 500w and 24kw of batteries and 5kw of inverter to power backup things in our home. Basically a HUGE ups that is charged by solar instead of the grid. In summer I can run our fridge, freezer and other small loads off solar alone. In winter I just make enough to keep the batteries topped off. My inverters are grid tie capable. Basically they take power from the grid and any excess power I create via solar gets added to the mix. So say I am using 2000watts of power and my panels are putting out 400w, now I am only pulling 1600w from the grid.

I always say my system payback came the first time we had a power outage and we still had power.

Bottom line it's still to expensive at this point, otherwise every utility would be doing this.

If your intrested I ahve some more infor on my site at
http://www.uwgb.edu/nevermab/solar.htm
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Old 11-08-2006, 09:56 AM   #9
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Well my grid power costs me $0.25 per KWH and it is going up so payback is a little faster. What you want to do is have electric vehicles and then you save on Gas TOO!!! All powered from Solar and Wind.
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Old 11-09-2006, 05:55 PM   #10
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Once again I need to get Darell on here. He has grid tied solar and a RAV4 EV He drives the RAV like 15k a year and has no electricity bill to speak of. His long trip car is a Prius
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