Categories: "Solar Economics"

01/08/19

  07:24:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 455 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, SCE, Residential Solar

Clean Power Alliance is Coming - is that a Good Thing?

Clean Power AllianceThe Community Choice Aggregator (CCA) for LA County, Clean Power Alliance (CPA), is set to begin service to SCE customers in 31 cities starting February 1.  As this has just sort of been announced as a fiat accompli with very little information to consumers, we wanted to set the stage for an analysis that we will be publishing that should answer the question - is this a good thing or not?

Let’s start with the basics, what is a CCA? Here’s a definition from an EPA website:

Community choice aggregation (CCA), also known as municipal aggregation, are programs that allow local governments to procure power on behalf of their residents, businesses, and municipal accounts from an alternative supplier while still receiving transmission and distribution service from their existing utility provider. CCAs are an attractive option for communities that want more local control over their electricity sources, more green power than is offered by the default utility, and/or lower electricity prices. By aggregating demand, communities gain leverage to negotiate better rates with competitive suppliers and choose greener power sources.

That means that current SCE customers would still receive their service via SCE (including billing) but the energy is actually provided by the CCA, in this case CPA, at one of three rates: “Lean” (which is 36% renewables and lower than SCE), “Clean” (which is 50% renewables and comparable to SCE), and “Green” (which is 100% renewables and higher than SCE).  Different cities can choose for their residents the “default” rate - for example, Arcadia chose Lean, Alhambra chose Clean, and South Pasadena chose Green - but individual consumers can override that default and pick the rate they prefer.  (You can find the present list of cities switching to CPA and their default rates here.)

However, the only portion of the bill affected is the energy charge, which is generally a smaller component than is delivery.  For example, here is a comparison for SCE customers on the Domestic rate for what they pay now compared to under the “Lean” option from CPA:

SCE Domestic vs CPA Rate

So your savings is about 10% on the first 300 or so kWh (or about $5), but if you make it into the highest tier, your savings drops to just 4.5% on the largest usage.   (Interestingly, SCE’s delivery rates changed a lot more than what is seen in this shift to CPA’s Lean rate.  In particular, the delivery charge for the lowest tier went up by 5.8% as of January 1st, and by 22% for Tier 3 - ouch!)

You can find the complete list of CPA’s rates as of this writing, here.

This Domestic rate is the easiest to review - in a subsequent post we will talk about Time-of-Use rates (relevant to recent and future solar owners) and how to make the right choice to maximize your savings.

Watch this space.

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01/03/19

  08:43:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 445 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, PWP

Pasadena Adopts New Integrated Resource Plan

Pasadena adopts IRP

As 2018 drew to a close, the Pasadena City Council adopted a new Integrated Resource Plan that shows the path forward for the City in the coming years. Not surprisingly, there are some big changes in store as PWP moves away from fossil fuels and toward a greener future. Here’s our take…

Where are we now?

We love Pasadena, but it has a long way to go before it becomes as green as we would like it to be.  For example, here is PWP’s latest power content label that shows the sources of its electricity, compared to California as a whole:

PWP 2017 Power Content Label

 

Yikes! 31% of our power overall comes from burning coal - compared to just 4% for the state overall!  

Somewhat surprising is the relatively low amount of natural gas in the mix, given that the Glenarm power plant is now entirely fueled by natural gas.

On the other hand, the City is doing very well in utilizing biomass and waste materials as a fuel source, well ahead of such efforts in the state as a whole.

So it is clear that a great deal of work is yet to be done, and it is the intent of the newly adopted IRP to show the way.

One thing that jumps out of the new plan is that coal is to be eliminated entirely by June of 2027 when existing supply contracts expire, and no new coal contracts will be signed.  Moreover, that plant is scheduled to switch to natural gas by 2025, so coal burning for PWP should end by then.

Distributed Energy Resources

As of the writing of the IRP, there were 1,303 PWP customers who have installed solar power systems at their homes or commercial/non-profit sites.  Collectively, those systems amount to 10.4 MW of installed capacity, with an estimated annual production of 16,600 MWh of energy.  That makes the average installed system size just under 8 kW.

One baffling detail in the planning section of the report: relying on a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis by the Lazard consulting firm, they assert that the LCOE of residential solar (after allowing for the federal tax credit) is from 14.5-24¢/kWh!  Frankly, we aren’t sure how they arrived at that number, since our projects generally project an LCOE in the 9-11¢/kWh range.

So more solar is in PWP’s future, but they won’t be supporting it on homes, schools, or businesses anymore.  Sad.

Other Takeaways…

Here are a couple more takeaways from the 249-page report:

  • The City is planning on installing 122 EV charging stations in the next few years
  • Electric bill increases would range from roughly 2.7% for residential customers, and up to 3.4% for commercial customers

You can find the entire report here: Pasadena’s Integrated Resource Plan.

09/30/18

  07:45:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 896 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, SCE/CSI Rebates, BWP Rebates, GWP Rebates, LADWP Rebates, Electric Cars that Run on Sun

EV Rebates - not just for PWP Customers!

Last month we wrote about a rebate program being offered by Pasadena Water & Power for both the purchase of an Electric Vehicle (new or used) as well as the installation of EV chargers.  Which got us to thinking, don’t the other local utilities have something similar?  Well guess what, they do!  Read on to see what might be available from a utility near you!

EVs being charged

Southern California Edison (SCE)

SCE offers rebates for both purchasing an EV as well as installing a level 2 (i.e., 240 VAC) charger.

EV Rebate

The SCE rebate for purchasing an EV is $450.  Here are the requirements:

  • You must be an SCE residential customer (vehicles registered to businesses are not eligible).
  • The EV must be among the vehicles listed on the Drive Clean website (which lists 35 models of EVs from 2018 alone!).
  • The vehicle’s registration address must be the same as the customer’s address with SCE, but the name on the service account need not be the same as that of the vehicle owner.
  • The vehicle’s registration is current with the State of California.
  • The vehicle has not received more than two rebates in the past.
  • If you have multiple EVs, each vehicle is subject to a rebate if the above qualifications are satisfied.

To apply for the SCE EV rebate, go here.

Charger Rebate

SCE also offers a rebate of $500 to install a Level 2 charger at your home.  Here are the requirements:

  • You must enroll in one of the available Time-of-Use (TOU) rates.  BE CAREFUL!  Depending on your usage patterns this might be a very expensive option!  Run on Sun can, for a nominal fee, assess your present usage and let you know what your annual bill would do under each of the available TOU rate options.  Please contact us if you are interested in our providing you with this service.
  • You need to pull a permit for the installation, and have the work performed by a C-10 electrician (B contractors are not allowed to participate in this rebate program).
  • You need to provide a copy of the signed-off permit after inspection and a copy of your permit receipt (be sure the electrician provides you with these documents).

To apply for the SCE EV charger rebate, go here.

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP)

LADWP does not appear to offer a rebate for the purchase of a new EV, but they do offer a rebate for purchasing a used EV, as well as installing an EV charger.  Their overall EV page is here.

Used EV Rebate

LADWP is offering a pilot program for the first 2,000 approved applicants who purchase an EV two or more years old (i.e., model year 2016 or older).  The rebate is $450 and opened on April 1, 2018. 

Here are the requirements:

  • EV must be two years old or older, and never received an LADWP rebate for its purchase previously.
  • EV must have been purchased after April 1, 2018.
  • Permanent residence must be served by LADWP
  • Complete the rebate application - download it here.
  • Copy of DMV registration
  • Copy of bill of sale
  • Proof of residence

EV Charger Rebate

LADWP offers a $500 rebate for installing a Level 2 EV charger (i.e., 240 VAC).  Program requirements are:

  • Completed rebate application - download it here.
  • Proof of EV charger purchase - paid invoice that includes
    • Purchase date
    • Retailer name, address and phone
    • EV charger make and model
    • How paid for - check, credit card, etc.
  • DMV registration that shows EV registered at account address
  • Photos of completed installation, nameplate of charger (showing serial number, make and model number)

Interestingly, LADWP does not specifically require the installation to be permitted and inspected.

Burbank Water & Power (BWP)

BWP offers a rebate of $500 for residential EV charger installations.  (You can access the rebate application here.)  They do not appear to offer a rebate for purchasing EVs.

Program requirements for the EV charger rebate are:

  • Applicant must be a BWP customer or charge their EV at a location served by BWP.
  • Agree to be switched to a Time-of-Use rate in return for the EV charger rebate.  CAUTION: this could be an expensive switch.  Be sure to consider how and when you use energy before agreeing to switch.
  • Application must be submitted within four months of purchase.
  • Installation must be hardwired (i.e., not plug-in) Level 2, and permitted and inspected by the City.
  • Supporting documentation including:
    • Copy of charger purchase receipt/invoice
    • Copy of installation receipt
    • Copy of signed-off permit
    • Copy of DMV registration
    • Photo of installed charger

Glendale Water & Power (GWP)

As is often the case, GWP’s programs mirror those of BWP.   GWP offers a $500 rebate for residential EV charger installations, but nothing toward the purchase of the EV itself.  Here’s a link to their overall EV page.  One interesting wrinkle, GWP issues the rebate in the form of a credit on your GWP bill - none of the other rebate programs said that.

Here are the requirements for the EV charger rebate:

  • Applicant must be an active GWP account holder.
  • Charger must be a new, Level 2 (i.e., 240 VAC) charger, and the application must be submitted within four months of purchase..
  • Installation must be permitted and inspected by the City if the charger is hard-wired.
  • Supporting documentation includes:
    • Copy of charger receipt/invoice
    • Photo of installed charger
    • Copy of labor receipt (optional)
    • Copy of the signed-off permit (if required)
    • Copy of DMV registration and car purchase or lease agreement

Access the GWP EV charger rebate application form here.

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08/06/18

  08:02:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 177 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, PWP Rebates, Electric Cars that Run on Sun

PWP Offering Rebates for EVs and EV Chargers!

We just learned that Pasadena Water and Power is offering a series of rebates for electric vehicles and for their chargers - how cool is that?  Here’s the scoop…

PWP EV Rebates

EV Rebates

New or used EVs, whether purchased or leased, qualify for rebates.  The rebate is $250, but that doubles if you get your EV from a Pasadena dealership.  (And if you participate in PWP’s income-qualifying programs, the rebate can be as much as $750!) 

To qualify, you must have an active PWP electric account, be the legal owner of the EV and permanently reside at the address shown on the PWP account. 

The rebate is limited (if you can call this a limitation!) to two EVs every three years!

EV Chargers

Now that you have an EV, you need a charger and PWP is offering rebates on those as well!  A standard Level 2 (240 VAC) charger qualifies for a $200 rebate, but a Wi-Fi enabled Level 2 charger qualifies for a $600 rebate!

You must complete the online rebate application within 180 days of purchase.  To get started, check out PWP’s EV rebate page here.

07/30/18

  08:45:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 500 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, Residential Solar, Ranting

Think Your Solar Investment is Safe? Think Again!

Those of us involved in solar in sunny Southern California generally think that we have it pretty good.  The climate is just about perfect for solar - and by that I mean the political climate, every bit as much as our abundant sunshine.  From the Governor, to the legislature, to the CPUC and the CEC, generally those forces support the growth of not just solar power in general, but distributed, on your own rooftop solar in particular.  But we become complacent at our peril - both to the jobs of those in the industry as well as the investment value of all of those solar installations out there.

A recent story from Columbia, South Carolina brought this peril to mind.  As portions of the state edged closer to the existing 2% cap on net metering installations, the legislature was working on a compromise to lift the cap,  allowing more residents the opportunity to install solar and take advantage of net metering.  The utilities had other ideas - from the Greenville News:

Deep-pocketed power companies outspent the solar industry nearly $3 to $1 as part of an intensive lobbying effort during an S.C. legislative session that included efforts to curb rooftop solar’s expansion in the state.
Electric utilities spent nearly $523,000 from January through May to hire more than three dozen lobbyists to advocate for them at the State House as lawmakers decided what to do about solar incentives.

Yikes.

The result of all that lobbying?  The effort to lift the net metering cap was defeated - and local solar companies are going to be laying off employees (if not closing altogether) while affected residents will either have to forego solar, or find it far less financially viable.

Solar Rights AllianceWe delude ourselves if we think that it can’t happen here.  Utility lobbyists are in Sacramento just as they are in Columbia, and the recent forced change to net metering 2.0 in SCE territory is a reminder that our progress is not guaranteed.

Which brings me to the Solar Rights AllianceWe have written about this important organization before, and will do so in the future.  But I wanted to use this post to show how we are putting our money where our mouth is.  Starting today, we are modifying our solar installation contracts to provide an opt-in checkbox for new clients to be signed up for the Solar Rights Alliance, with Run on Sun making a donation in their name to help support the important work of organizing solar clients statewide.

We are never going to be able to match the money coming from the utilities and their allies.  But what we do have is tens of thousands of happy solar owners all across the state.  If we can organize even a fraction of them, we will be able to speak directly to policy makers and let them know that the value of installed solar power systems must be protected.  That is a fight that we need to take on, and the Solar Rights Alliance (along with our wonderful trade association, CALSSA) is key to winning that fight.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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