This past Friday, August 20th marked the completion of the solar panel installation, and the first day the system was up and running. They say the system was active at about 12:00 noon. Though we’ve yet to get the web based monitor (more on that later) the Sunny Boy data panel is telling us how much we are and have generated, along with a variety of other data. We estimate our daily usage is somewhere around 10 kwh per day. On Friday, 8/20 from 12:00 on, we generated a bit over that. The slightly cloudy days of the weekend generated slightly over 10 kwh each, and Monday 8/23 was a bit over. Today, a hot sunny day, we have generated 15.9 kwh by 5:15 pm.
Today we did have our inspection from the city, as scheduled. I love things happening as scheduled. Imagine Energy showed up a bit early to place a few required stickers and such – safety stickers letting anyone working on our electric panel know that it is fed both by the standard incoming line AND solar panels. Our house is fairly new, built in 2003. My husband and I both noticed that our electric panel was missing the requisite blue inspection sticker from when the house was built. In an effort to avoid inspection hassles, I printed the inspection record from 2003, showing complete approval of the electric system. And indeed, the guy today remarked on the missing sticker, but with the records in hand, put the required blue sticker. on, back dated to 2003.
Yet to be completed are Portland General’s installation of the net meter. This mechanism accounts for the excess power generated. Portland General then credits us on the following month’s bill for any overage (or debits us for our usage). The program is set up such that individuals with larger systems won’t be getting rich off their excess power. The formula is a bit intricate, but after a year (April to March, I believe) any excess power is given to the low income energy assistance program. I like this. We didn’t install solar to have some sort of passive income stream. We installed solar power to minimize our carbon footprint, because it is the right thing to do, and because my husband is obsessed with it. That we can contribute a bit to those in need is a great benefit.
Also yet to be completed is the “communictaions” part of the system. Getting Sunny Boy to feed his data to the ether, and for us to be able to access that data.
My husband and I have felt this last detail could be a weak spot in the project. While I am the tech support in our household, I didn’t sign on to get this thing working. I can be sure the modem is good, reboot the wireless, troubleshoot the printer, tinker with the on demand netflix to the fancy tv. I do not know how to hook this thingy up. I’m told “they” will need to get back into our crawl space to finish this up. Mind you our crawl space is accessed through the floor of the hall closet. The hall closet that holds, coats, rain boots, that old pair of crutches, extra toilet paper, the large box of furnace filters, spare rugs and towels for pet bedding, bottles of wine we’ll never drink and keep forgetting to serve our guests, the folding table, packing boxes for any recent electronics purchase should they need to be returned. Given that “they” will be back any day now, we’ve got those above mentioned treasures “stored” in the living room, awaiting this last step. Now it is not Imagine Energy’s fault that our crawl space access is so centrally located, but having the stuff scattered about does make me very aware of any extra time this last step takes.