Like it or not, Net Energy Metering 2.0 is coming soon to California and it is bound to shake things up. To understand the potential impacts of NEM 2.0 it important to understand what net metering is and how it currently influences the roof-top solar market. Net Metering 1.0, the current set of regulations mandated by the state, is largely responsible for California’s thriving solar industry. It gives homeowners the ability to essentially use the grid as a free “battery.” Any extra electricity produced by solar panels during the day can be exported to the grid and “stored” for future use. For every kilowatt-hour of electricity exported to the grid when the sun is out, homeowners are entitled to a free kilowatt-hour when the sun is down. Customers can and often do cut their electricity bill to zero by sizing their solar system to produce equal or more electricity than is consumed daily by their household.
The problem with this current system is that there is a limit to how many solar owners can reap the benefits. Taken to the extreme, what if everyone in California had an electricity bill close to zero? How could utilities afford to maintain the grid? Who would pay for other energy sources such as coal and natural gas when sun went down. Even when a smaller percentage of people rely on NEM 1.0, rate payers without solar are often left to cover the utility’s costs. On the flip side, the generous policy of NEM 1.0 has enabled the solar industry in California to become the largest in the nation. Tens of thousands of jobs have been created and California has become a global leader in combatting climate change.
The California Public Utilities Commission is in charge of weighing the benefits and costs of NEM. They hold proceedings during which stakeholders make their points and from there legislation is created. In 2013 the state passed Assembly Bill No.327, a bill that covers a range of Californian energy policies. Included in the bill was a cap on renewable energy nameplate capacity that could operate under NEM 1.0. Once 5% of a utility’s nameplate capacity is derived from NEM 1.0 projects, NEM 2.0 takes effect. It will kick in mid-2017 regardless. As customers of Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric edge rush to take advantage of NEM 1.0 and the ITC, it is unlikely that we will make it to 2017 before NEM 2.0 rears its head.
The details of NEM 2.0 still have not been agreed upon and estimates vary widely as to what it will entail. Pull too hard one way and the utilities will not be able to cover their costs, push too hard the other way and solar industry in California could regress. Here are 3 levers that the CPUC can manipulate in order to make things work:
- A charge on homes with solar that would help pay for grid maintenance. In theory such a charge is logical but in its limited practice, it hasn’t fared well. A major utility in Arizona, The Salt River Project, recently began charging homeowners with solar $50 a month. This has been met with much controversy and a lawsuit from Solar City, who claimed that such a fee was too high and forced them to transfer employees to new states with regulations more conducive to roof-top solar.
- Rates based on time of use. The CPUC has ordered PG&E, SCE and SDG&E to begin charging their customers on a time of use scale by 2020. Cheaper electricity during peak sun hours should encourage people use more energy during the day when their panels are firing on all cylinders. Higher electricity costs in the late afternoon after the sun has gone down should deter people from using energy derived from fossil-fuels. For example, lets say 10AM-6PM kilowatt-hours cost 10 cents and 6-9PM kilowatt-hours cost 50 cents. NEM 2.0 systems would have to export 5 kilowatt-hours of energy between 10 and 6 in order to get 1 kilowatt-hour back between 6 and 9.
- Disproportionate Energy Crediting. NEM 2.0 could simply decrease the value of extra energy exported back to the grid. Instead of one kilowatt-hour in one kilowatt-hour out, utilities may only credit you with a fraction of whatever you put in. This will have a tremendous impact on the economics of a grid-tied system.
Any combination of these controls can be enacted and the uncertainty surrounding NEM 2.0 is leaving many unsure as to how to proceed with solar. Whether you buy from us or somebody else, it is our recommendation that you move as quickly as possible so you can take advantage of NEM 1.0 and the 30% tax credit that expires at the end of 2016. Feel free to contact us and we will point you in the right direction.
What if you could use the sun’s energy to power your home even after the sun goes down? How would it feel to be the only house on the block with power when the grid goes down? What if this was not only possible but cost-effective as well. After 10 years of operating in the energy storage industry Mobile Solar is proud to introduce the most affordable energy storage system on the market. On its own this system will add significant value for customers interested in increasing the reliability of their power supply or eliminating peak demand charges. Coupled with solar panels (or any other power source) the RB-35 can provide homeowners with total energy independence. This means that homes can now produce all of the power that they consume. Check it out and join the energy independence revolution!
Exactly 10 years ago, Mobile Solar created its first trailer-based solar generator. Coupling solar panels and batteries was a very novel concept at the time and as the years went on we became increasingly enthusiastic about the possibility of a future in which the sun could provide us with energy at all hours of the day. The success of our units have proven the utility of such a system but we realize that we can only do so much with our transportable units that cater to a small and largely to off-grid clientele.
For years we have waited for GE, Edison or some major utility to offer a large scale renewable energy storage solution. Yesterday such a solution was brought to the mainstream by Elon Musk’s Tesla, one of the most forward thinking companies on the planet. Tesla’s new battery systems, the Powerwall and the Powerpack will be tremendously crucial to our renewable energy powered future. Excess solar power produced during the day can now be stored for later use in an economical way like never before.
We look forward to a solar powered future and the possibility of using Tesla’s new batteries in our future units.
Earlier this year, Mobile Solar participated in the California Energy Storage Alliance’s Annual Market Development Forum. As a member of CESA, Mobile Solar is seeking to educate themselves on the future of energy storage in California and the rest of the world. CESA is the most forward thinking and well respected advocacy group when it comes to energy storage planning and policy. Its members consist of industry leaders from Solar City to Sony, and its influence spreads throughout governments world-wide.
Mobile Solar is particularly interested in behind the meter storage. As the world races towards a sustainable future powered by renewable energies, it must also find a way to utilize such energy production. Storage is absolutely crucial when it comes to satisfying our 24/7 energy demands with solar and wind sources that can only periodically produce energy. Our units are capable of storing energy from both the grid and the panels on its roof. They can also give power back to the grid when it is thirsty. Programs like SGIP (Self Generation Incentive Program) are paving the way for household energy storage and Mobile Solar is excited to play a role in its future.
Giga Solar, a 2011-startup based in Portola Valley, Calif., has a pretty simple value proposition: they design and build highly efficient ultra-light-weight mono-crystal solar modules. Mobile Solar is currently evaluating these modules for use in our MS, LT and PK model lines. We spoke with Chief Business Development Officer Sicco Westra.
Mr. Westra explained their primary customers are in the portable or transportable market, “where people want to have solar panels that they move around very frequently, have the ability to pick up and move it. Think about disaster relief applications, and temporary power situations. The military is evaluating these units for expeditionary missions.”
“I think the biggest benefit is the fact that they weigh only 35% of a standard panel, they are a lot easier to handle, they are safer, you can stick more of the panels in a box, because they don’t have a frame,” Westra said. The ability to pack a lot of power in a small, light-weight package is intriguing to us, from a mobile perspective, but Giga Solar’s biggest market will probably be the roof-top residential industry.
Why does light-weight matter for standard grid-connected systems? “It makes the handling of these panels a lot easier and safer than your standard aluminum-framed glass modules,” he explained, noting they are awaiting IEC Certification, but exploring the roof-top market.
“A lot of roofers like the light weight aspect of our panels; it makes the handling of them on a sloped roof a lot safer. When you have a panel that is only 16 pounds, it makes the whole installation a lot safer than a 40-45 pound panel. Light weight in and of itself you can say ‘so what,’ but there is a real safety benefit.
Here at Mobile Solar, we just think they’re cool, and provide another example of how quickly the PV industry is changing. You can learn more at: http://www.gigasolarpv.com/
Mobile Solar would like to applaud the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for its decision to green light battery-based grid-connected photovoltaic systems. Utilities such as PG&E had been pushing for huge fees and a burdensome regulatory process in order to dissuade homeowners from storing energy in batteries in conjunction with their roof-top solar electric systems. Well the CPUC has stood up and told those self-serving utilities to “sit down!” Hats off to you, CPUC!!!
California to Utilities: Connect Battery-Solar Systems to the Grid
UPDATE: SolarCity resumes applications as California regulators clear way for net-metered solar-battery systems
Jeff St. John
April 16, 2014
California regulators have just issued a rebuke to utilities, and a thumbs-up to customers and companies that want to connect hundreds of now-stalled battery-backed solar PV projects across the state.
On Tuesday, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a proposed decision that would exempt most storage-solar projects from extra utility fees and interconnection studies (PDF). Instead, it would require utilities to treat them as regular old net-metered solar systems, as long as they meet certain requirements.
Investment Bank Morgan Stanley predicts huge numbers of homeowners will go off-grid in the coming years, due mainly to increasingly affordable photovoltaic technology and Tesla’s massive new lithium-ion battery factory in Nevada. What will this mean for you?
Morgan Stanley: Tipping point nears for going off grid
By Giles Parkinson on 25 March 2014
Investment bank Morgan Stanley says it has been overwhelmed by the response to its recent analysis which suggested that the falling costs of both solar modules and battery storage presented a potential tipping point that would encourage huge numbers of homeowners and businesses in the US to go off grid.
The initial report, published earlier this month, has been followed up by a note from Morgan Stanley highlighting the extent to which investors had been unaware of these mega trends, which threaten massive disruption in the trillion-dollar utility business.
Sure, they had heard that solar was proving popular, but had no idea of the size of the market that Morgan Stanley had identified. And while most had been skeptical of the potential impact of battery storage, they were intrigued by the potential cost falls that could be achieved by Tesla, the electric car company, and its ability to monitor power levels in batteries and schedule a battery swap in the case of depletion.
More importantly, the investors were particularly focused on how utilities might respond. Solar, they suggested, should be seen as an opportunity and utilities should look at ways of becoming enablers of these technologies, rather than barriers.
Former President Clinton speaking at the Global Initiative (CGI) conference in Phoenix 2013. The event was powered by Arizona Public Service (APS) with a MS-375 they purchased from Mobile Solar.
Each year, CGI U hosts a meeting where students, youth organizations, topic experts, and celebrities come together to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges.
To learn more about the CGI check out their website:
Arsenic And Other Toxins Leaking Into Dan River From North Carolina Coal Ash Dump
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina officials said Tuesday that groundwater containing unsafe levels of arsenic apparently leaching from a Duke Energy coal ash dump is still pouring into the Dan River, which is already contaminated from a massive Feb. 2 spill.
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered Duke to stop the flow of contaminated water coming out a pipe that runs under a huge coal ash dump at its Eden power plant. A nearby pipe at the same dump collapsed without warning two weeks ago, coating the bottom of the Dan River with toxic ash as far as 70 miles downstream.
Oil Train Accidents Spur Worry About Future Of Shipping Crude By Rail
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — At least 10 times since 2008, freight trains hauling oil across North America have derailed and spilled significant quantities of crude, with most of the accidents touching off fires or catastrophic explosions.
The derailments released almost 3 million gallons of oil, nearly twice as much as the largest pipeline spill in the U.S. since at least 1986. And the deadliest wreck killed 47 people in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec.
Those findings, from an Associated Press review of U.S. and Canadian accident records, underscore a lesser-known danger of America’s oil boom, which is changing the global energy balance and raising urgent safety questions closer to home.