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Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
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John Kingman
Steiner Ranch

Posts: 16
Joined on December 27th, 2012
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by John Kingman on July 25th, 2013

I went with the eBill and have not gotten any paper bills since then, so maybe they will catch that at some point for you. They've stated that they're not going to reset any energy credits until October, btw.

It seems to me that, rather than waste energy, you could put your excess solar to work by using it for clean transportation. My car has averaged about 630 kWh per month for the last six months and is pure electric. :-)

 
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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

I would love to have an electric vehicle. I am saving $ money for it. That will be a great use of excess energy in the future when I can afford it.

I wish the credits could be applied to the other portions of my bill. For my situation at least, that would fix the credit issue.
 
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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

Shelley, I don't think a lawsuit is warranted because I don't think Austin Energy is legally obligated to pay for all of our kWh produced, even though that was certainly the program in place when I signed on to this.

Someone at Austin Energy told me that my credit would be consumed by my higher consumption in the summer months. But, that is simply not true in my case. I think part of the problem is that they never did a case study to see how net-zero consumers would be treated by their policies and there are so few of us that we have no voice.

I am seriously considering putting a very high SEER Mitsubishi split system HVAC in my garage. My garage is already completely insulated with spray foam insulation. I have 2" thick R13 garage doors that face north, so I have very little heat gain from them. I also have a 80 gallon hybrid-electric water heater that I run in heat pump only mode. This unit heats water very efficiently and exhausts cold dehumidified air in to my garage. So, I am already getting some garage cooling for free anytime the water heater is heating water. If I can run the garage HVAC free with my surplus electricity that Austin Energy does not value, then why not?
 
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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

Hi John,

If they are going to confiscate (reset) energy credits in October, then I need to conserve my inverters for the months of August and September. I have received conflicting reports on the official date. Some say October 1 and others say December 31.

I have already invested $150,000 net of rebates to remodel my 1200 square foot home to be net-zero. I should not have to spend another $30,000 to by an electric vehicle to get reimbursed the same amount for each of my kWh that solar customers with larger, less efficient homes enjoy. And I don't have another$30,000 laying around anyway.

I will sign up for eBill.

I would wager my projected annual surplus that the double billing system for solar customers is more costly to Austin Energy than the former single billing system that fully returned the entire surplus to the customer who produced it! As of April 2013, Austin Energy reports that they "support more than 2245 customer-owned solar energy systems". If the cost to AE is 50 cents per extra bill for printing and postage and another 50 cents per bill to process the payments, then the annual cost of the double billing is $26,940 per year. If there are only 15 net-zero customers, then the double billing is probably just as expensive as returning the surplus.

This so defies any logic, good business sense or even common sense that I am becoming more and more convinced that this is rooted in some perverse social justice thinking.

 
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John Kingman
Steiner Ranch

Posts: 16
Joined on December 27th, 2012
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by John Kingman on July 25th, 2013

Jeffrey,

Originally, they were going to reset on 1/1/13, but when I checked with Leslie Libby back in December, she said that they would not, and that it would most likely be 10/1/13. I'll check again.

No, you shouldn't have to buy an EV, but I can't feel too sorry for you since you knowingly added the extra panels in the first place. In fact, you are not net zero, since they owe you money. If you were net-zero, they wouldn't.

Why stop at net-zero for the house? Go net-zero for the house and the car. EV's can be financed too and they also have rebates.

I still don't understand the billing problem. I've never been double billed and I don't mail payments either. I use direct bill payment along with eBill. No paper or postage.

 
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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 26th, 2013

John,

I don't expect you or anyone to feel sorry for me. To be clear, the remodel of my home and installation of the solar system occurred simultaneously. Nobody at Lighthouse Solar, Circular Energy or Austin Energy Green Building could tell me how much solar I needed to achieve net-zero. There simply was no way for anyone to predict how much solar I needed because everything in the home except the concrete slab and framing was replaced. I went with the 8.2 kW system at that time because of the negligible additional expense AND the fact that none of the industry experts knew what was needed and I certainly didn't know. As it turns out, the 6.3 kW system would not have achieved net-zero energy. It would now achieve net-zero $, but we were on net metering at the time and were dealing with a different set of facts.

Net-zero customers who are small consumers and produce no excess kWh will still forfeit surplus $.

I can understand on some level AE not wanting to give incentives for over-production. But I cannot understand disincentives for achieving net-zero.

The big picture is not about me. It is about the fact that others will learn from the early adopters as to what gives the best return on investment. And there is currently no incentive to build or remodel past the point that the solar system supplies about 80% of the kWh to run the home.

In my case, that would have meant installing the same 8.2 kW system but saving $6000 or more on the front end by building a less efficient building envelope. And that still holds true with today's rebates and surplus confiscation. The marginal cost to go from a 6 kW system to a 10kW system is far less money than building a home that would normally receive 80% of its energy from 10kW system more efficiently so that a 6kW system would provide 80% of its energy.

This will result in more solar rebates paid and more energy consumption by the homes receiving the solar rebates. This is insane. Why would anyone give a larger incentive to build a less efficient home?

So, builders and remodelers are going to focus on maxing out the solar for the solar incentive while doing the minimum on the building envelope to get to 80%.
 
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Scott Conn
Mueller Community

Posts: 45
Joined on November 4th, 2009
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by Scott Conn on July 26th, 2013

I too have a substantial credit from my solar system, -349. as of my last bill. It's from a 4k system on a 1436sf house on Threadgill. I thought that it would not grow in the summer, but I just don't use much juice.

I waited until the summer to inquire about what will happen with it and was told, as mentioned already, that it will likely be zeroed out close to the year's end. Not happy about that likelihood, the only suggestion I was given was to contact the city council.

It would be interesting to see how much AE gains from this diverse little solar credit farm of theirs. I half jokingly asked if there was an option similar to carbon trading. I also asked if it could be applied to the bill of a my rental property, but to no surprise that wouldn't fly.

But, going with those thoughts I wonder if instead of my credit being simply absorbed, what if it could be applied to a household, group or institution that could use help with their electric bill.

Obviously AE and the city are still struggling with how to figure all of this out. This idea may be met with positive nods and then added to a large stack of neat ideas that will gather dust. But I like the idea of my credit dollars doing something other than just becoming a zero.
(pardon/try to ignore this message if all of this has been covered already) http://www.citicite.com/mueller/themes/Default/images/emoticons/rolleyes.gif
 
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paulsjv
Mueller Community

Posts: 191
Joined on September 5th, 2008
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by paulsjv on July 26th, 2013

Well I have a 3.1kw system on my 1720sq/ft house. I have about $140 credit. When I heard the news about AE "stealing" the electricity I was producing I was not happy about it. If you want to read about the responses I got all you have to do is look back in this thread. They weren't promising and for me, at least, were down right deflating.

My thought is that if they are going to steal the electricity I am producing, charge me for the transportation of the energy I create from the roof of my house to the devices in my house then as soon as my contract obligations are up for AE and Pecan Street I'm going to invest in storage for my electricity and hopefully (If I can do it correctly for a reasonable cost) cut ties with AE all together.
 
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Scott Conn
Mueller Community

Posts: 45
Joined on November 4th, 2009
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by Scott Conn on July 26th, 2013

Yes, theft was my first thought as well. Although a large part of the cost of the system was taken care of with the rebates, etc., they are using us like a solar farm- our property, their energy. We do get somewhat compensated, but it is a different deal than what I had going in. All that said, I haven't needed to pay an electric bill all year.
I still rather the credit going somewhere that needs it rather than into the aether.
 
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paulsjv
Mueller Community

Posts: 191
Joined on September 5th, 2008
Austin Energy Rate Increase re:Solar
by paulsjv on July 26th, 2013

Quote:
Yes, theft was my first thought as well. Although a large part of the cost of the system was taken care of with the rebates, etc., they are using us like a solar farm- our property, their energy. We do get somewhat compensated, but it is a different deal than what I had going in. All that said, I haven't needed to pay an electric bill all year.
I still rather the credit going somewhere that needs it rather than into the aether.


You got it. That's why I'm letting it play out for the 5 years. I should probably dig up the contract to make sure that they can do what they have done with regards to the rebate and double bills. Something tells me that in there some where they reserve the right to change things up.

But after the 5 years we can do whatever we want to do with the system. So storing my energy for me to use later seems to be a very real option. A co-worker is already doing that with golf cart batteries and his solar system.
 
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