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Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
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paulsjv
Mueller Community

Posts: 191
Joined on September 5th, 2008
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by paulsjv on January 7th, 2013

It's late so not much of a response but...

If AE wants the energy I produce that I do not consume they can come and get it. Then factor their transmission costs from my array to other customers. Instead of charging me for transmission to other customers and turning around and charging their customers for the same transmission seems like double dipping to me.

Sounds like to make as more and more solar comes online AE is going to have to figure out a business model that makes sense. It also sounds like to me that they haven't figured it out yet.
 
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paulsjv
Mueller Community

Posts: 191
Joined on September 5th, 2008
 
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paulsjv
Mueller Community

Posts: 191
Joined on September 5th, 2008
 
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danx11
Mueller Community

Posts: 192
Joined on May 24th, 2009
 
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danx11
Mueller Community

Posts: 192
Joined on May 24th, 2009
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by danx11 on January 8th, 2013


Just have to add my 2 cents - OK 3 cents.
I'm very satisfied with our solar PV installation - hardware, performance, etc. and very satisfied with the final AE deal. All in all, I'm not sure it could have worked out any better. For sure AE mis-managed some items, has had problems commnicating but in the end we received a great deal. AE must also be happy with the deal since they initiated it & delivered their end of it.
I'm also impressed with the performance of our Mueller MegaWatt members who, according to this mornings Statesman, have installed more than 1 mW out of a total 6mW of solar PV in Austin.
As solar costs continue to decline and new rooftops continue to appear in Mueller we can look forward to MMW-2, 3, 4...........
 
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Regina Emmitt
Mueller Community

Posts: 19
Joined on January 19th, 2010
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by Regina Emmitt on January 9th, 2013

We feel very fortunate to have been able to participate in the Mueller solar project. Had it not been for the generous incentives and rebates, our home would not have solar panels and we would not be enjoying any benefits of reduced energy costs. This has been an on-going and evolving project that may or may not have some adjustments that will be made to the final process. However, some earlier posts seem to be complaining that somehow Austin Energy is trying to "cheat" us out of something. "Biting the hand that feeds you," usually means that less is offered in the future. Let's move on...and hope that our community is one that is still seen as open to even more experiments, technology and discovery. Those who are still disgruntled about their perceived lack of "pure benefit" with no skin in the game...please do us all a favor and don't sign up next time.
 
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shelley hiam
Mueller Community

Posts: 56
Joined on June 24th, 2009
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by shelley hiam on January 9th, 2013

Wow. How rude, Regina! I think we are all trying to understand this process, and it's obviously going to take time, but you don't need to attack. I don't think ANYONE is saying they wish they hadn't gone solar.

I do feel cheated ... out of information through lack of communication. I didn't realize that wanting the information presented clearly and upfront so I could make the best choice in the size of my system was so wrong. I would have still signed up, but for a smaller system.

Seems like AE might be biting my hand that feeds them energy when they wipe away my credits. I realize this will be a small number of people that this happens to - I've heard 7% - but I sure wish I had known earlier so I could have installed a system that made the most since for my situation.

 
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commuter
Mueller Community

Posts: 147
Joined on January 23rd, 2008
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by commuter on March 26th, 2013

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/03/25/solar-in-the-spotlight_print.html

Interesting article about impact of solar on traditional business model of the utilities who own and operate most of our grid.

Hopefully we can set an example for more deployment across the nation.
 
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Jeffrey Dwyer
Mueller Community

Posts: 16
Joined on July 25th, 2013
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by Jeffrey Dwyer on July 25th, 2013

Hello All,

I remodeled my 40-year old south Austin home in 2011 and installed 8.2 kW of solar. I demolished the house down to the studs and rebuilt with all new electrical wiring, pex plumbing, spray foam insulation, LED lighting, energy efficient appliances, metal roof, high SEER HVAC system with energy recovery ventilator, energy efficient windows, etcetera. I registered the project with Austin Energy Green Building and the house currently qualifies for a 4-Star rating. When I redo the landscaping, I can earn enough additional points and minimum requirements to earn their 5-Star rating.

I did not know what size solar system to install to reach my goal of net-zero energy consumption. The 8.2 kW system that was installed was only $150 more than the 6.3 kW system that was originally proposed. So, I went with the 8.2kW. It would have been foolish not to do so for so little extra, especially given that I did not know how much solar I needed.

I was delighted after several months to realize that I had definitely achieved net zero energy use. My system produces about 10% more energy than my home consumes.

Under net-metering, I would often receive credits that not only completely offset the electric portion of the bill, but would then be applied to the water portion. As you all know, that all changed with the new value of solar program. I currently have a $270 credit on my electric bill as of June 19, 2013.

By the way, my home is all electric except for the cooktop on the dual fuel range which is gas. I run my HVAC system 24/7 because there is no incentive to further conserve. It is also true that turning off the system during the workday doesn't reap much benefit because the house is so tight.

If I were to be more diligent in conserving as much energy as reasonably convenient, I would probably end the year with about a $400 credit. This is true primarily because I am compensated more for the kWh I produce than the kWh I use, not because the system is slightly oversized.

Consider a net-zero consumer who uses 10,000 kWh and generates 10,000 kWh with their solar system. They would receive a value of solar credit of $1280 (10,000 kWh x .128/kWh) annually against electrical use charges of $1000 (10,000 kWh x .10/kWh average) resulting in a $280 net end of year credit.

So the net-zero consumer gets compensated at only 10 cents per kWh, while the solar consumer with the same size solar system on a 5,000 square foot home that uses substantially more energy gets 12.8 cents per kWh and the Webberville Solar Farm gets 16.5 cents per kWh. Huh? This makes no sense. And they are cutting down more trees to make sure that those of us who have solar don't get any of the surplus credit by sending 2 separate bills complete with all the bill inserts.

There is no incentive to build or remodel to net-zero in Austin. I am told by Austin Energy that mine is one of only 15 net-zero homes in their service area. My hope is that there would be 1,500 or 15,000 in the relatively near future, but there won't be with Austin Energy's policies.

I could have saved at least $6,000 on remodeling costs if I had not rebuilt the house to be so efficient. The home would then consume enough additional energy that I would not have any credit at year's end. The home would no longer be net-zero on a kWh consumption basis, but would consume net-zero dollars in electricity.

There is much discussion at Austin Energy regarding fixed cost recovery for solar customers. This is most frequently the topic that is raised by various people I have spoken to at Austin Energy regarding the confiscation of solar credit at year's end. It is estimated that the actual fixed costs to Austin Energy to serve each residential customer is about $40 per month. Although the customer charge was raised last October, it is still less than $40 and the remainder of the fixed costs are embedded in the rates that we all pay, solar customers and non-solar customers alike.

The notion that net-zero solar customers are somehow not paying these fixed costs is absurd. First, our value of solar credit is offset against the rates with the embedded fixed costs. Second, if we generate enough solar in a given period, the customer charge and other itemized fixed costs are paid for in kWh, which by Austin Energy's definition are currently worth 12.8 cents each. And finally, Austin Energy does not have to process as many payments each year for solar customers as no payment is required for any month or months where their is a net credit on the electric bill. Actually, I am wrong about this last statement because of their tree-destroying new policy of issuing 2 bills instead of 1. But I still make only the 12 payments per year for the non-electric bill because my electric bill is always in surplus, whereas most solar customers now make 24 payments instead of 12.

I spent $150,000 after rebates to remodel my 40 year old home in an area where homes sell for little more than that. This may not have been the smartest decision purely from an economic investment standpoint, but I feel good about what I have done and love living in my home and in this area.

However, I am determined to make the most out of my investment and the includes the solar system. Austin Energy would never run their electric generating plants and then bleed off or give away the excess energy and neither will I. My plan is to shut down my solar system to conserve the investment I have in my inverters for the months of October, November and December. This is not to be vindictive. It just makes good economic sense for me, as it does for Austin Energy, not too incur the expense to produce energy only to give it away.

I am not sure why the solar policies at Austin Energy exist as they do currently. Do they not realize, with regards to fixed cost recovery, that 156.25 kWh at 12.8 cents/kWh equals $20. Perhaps there is a social justice issue: anyone who can achieve net-zero must give their surplus back to Austin Energy.

Even if Austin Energy refunded my annual surplus, they would be buying 11,000 kWh from me for $1408. They pay the Webberville Solar Farm $1815 for the same 11,000 kWh. That would still be a savings to them of $407 annually. How is that for fixed cost recovery?

If Austin Energy continues to punish good behavior, they are going to get less of it. Builders and remodeling contractors are going to figure out that they are better off building less efficient building envelopes and maxing out the solar to achieve net-zero billing but not net-zero consumption.
 
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shelley hiam
Mueller Community

Posts: 56
Joined on June 24th, 2009
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by shelley hiam on July 25th, 2013

Jeffrey, I completely understand. Austin Energy has taken away all incentive for me to conserve. Even with running my A/C all the time - I currently have a credit of $280. By the end of the year, I imagine it will be more. I wish there was something we could do about it. I'm not sure if a class action suit makes sense, but I would not be against looking into it.

I went with the larger system for the same reasons you talked about. And each month when I get two bills, I think of the paper they are wasting. (Yes, I know I can opt out of the paper statements and have tried with no luck).

I remember when they first announced the new system, there was talk that the credits would all zero out once we got to the summer months. But that is not happening for me.
 
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