Alternative Energy Company Opens Bran...

Alternative Energy Company Opens Branch in Staunton

There are 43 comments on the NBC29 Charlottesville story from Apr 29, 2013, titled Alternative Energy Company Opens Branch in Staunton. In it, NBC29 Charlottesville reports that:

Altenergy just opened its doors near downtown Staunton. The solar company offers sustainable energy in the form of solar panels to provide electricity and solar thermal energy to give home owners hot water.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at NBC29 Charlottesville.

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Eaglescout1984

Charlottesville, VA

#1 May 1, 2013
"After a while your electricity is going to be free"

Total BS. This is obviously the statement of a con man who is counting on you not knowing enough about how electricity works. I bet if you ask him how much power this can produce, hew would answer "120 and 240 volts".

Here's the truth: Most people use more power in their homes today than a solar panel the size of their roof could produce. Would a solar panel lower your electric bill? Absolutely, will it make it zero? Not unless you are willing to take energy-saving measures.

Furthermore, these systems have to rely on batteries to provide nighttime electricity. If there is a stretch of cloudy days, eventually the batteries will run down and you will be getting all your electricity from the grid.

Oh and you have a heat pump or baseboard heaters, don't count on reducing your bills in the winter. You're better off investing in an oil or natural gas heater than you are investing in solar panels.

If you are serious about solar power, take your power bills for last year. Total the kWh (Killowatt-hour). Go to a solar panel contractor and get an estimate for installing a solar panel system to provide different percentages of that power (25%, 50%, 75%, 100%).
THEN go to a financial adviser or CPA and have them work out exactly where each system would actually begin to pay for itself. This is a "best case" scenario. This won't take into account under performance on cloudy days, mechanical breakdowns or any reduction in power output as the system ages.

A little knowledge can go a long way in protecting you from people looking to take advantage of the green energy craze.
CvilleMechEngr

Charlottesville, VA

#2 May 1, 2013
Eaglescout1984 wrote:
"After a while your electricity is going to be free"
Total BS. This is obviously the statement of a con man who is counting on you not knowing enough about how electricity works.
I know these guys. They know their business, and they do good work. They want their customers to be educated. His comments were certainly careless though or out of context or misquoted or something.

I agree with the points that you made. Folks should be realistic about what they are getting and about what they have to do if they want to include solar as an energy source.
Electrician

Staunton, VA

#3 May 3, 2013
Eaglescout doesn't know as much as he thinks about solar electric systems. They do not "rely on batteries" as you say. The mast majority of solar systems don't involve any batteries. Electricity produced goes to your home's loads, excess goes into the grid where you build a credit with the power company. If the system is sized right you end up with a power bill nearly zero.
You're right, most people couldn't fit enough panels on their roof to zero their bill. That doesn't mean the panels that fit won't lower their bill. It's simple math: If you used to buy all your power from the power company and now you make some yourself your bill will be lower.
You might be surprised how many people have plenty of roof room to zero their bill. I sure do.

Since: Mar 13

Location hidden

#4 May 3, 2013
Electrician wrote:
Eaglescout doesn't know as much as he thinks about solar electric systems. They do not "rely on batteries" as you say. The mast majority of solar systems don't involve any batteries. Electricity produced goes to your home's loads, excess goes into the grid where you build a credit with the power company. If the system is sized right you end up with a power bill nearly zero.
So asically you abuse the grid as your battery and shift the cost onto all the other users. Thanks a lot.
Electrician wrote:
You're right, most people couldn't fit enough panels on their roof to zero their bill. That doesn't mean the panels that fit won't lower their bill. It's simple math: If you used to buy all your power from the power company and now you make some yourself your bill will be lower.
Except that you won't lower your bill enough to pay for the PV system unless you accept the subsidies most PV companies are TRULY harvesting.
Electrician wrote:
You might be surprised how many people have plenty of roof room to zero their bill. I sure do.
But only by stealing money from other users.
sez you

Charlottesville, VA

#5 May 3, 2013
A nice idea but not yet feasible for the average homeowner. Cost is still way to prohibitive and the average load is way beyond whats availble by panels. Your electric hot water heater just won't work with panels, not near enough amps.

“Don't Drink The Obama Kool-Aid”

Since: Aug 09

You don't need to know, Va.

#6 May 3, 2013
They will be out of business in six months, unless they can find enough mathematically challenged liberals to buy in.
Dude

Spotsylvania, VA

#7 May 3, 2013
KitemanSA wrote:
<quoted text> So asically you abuse the grid as your battery and shift the cost onto all the other users. Thanks a lot.
<quoted text> Except that you won't lower your bill enough to pay for the PV system unless you accept the subsidies most PV companies are TRULY harvesting.
<quoted text> But only by stealing money from other users.
No, they sell it to the market when they have excess, and buy it back when they have a shortage. It's smart grid technology, which just became a lot more expensive because the utilities are trying to end the practice.
.
It will lower your bills enough to pay for it, 10 years ago it was a 30 ROI, but solar panels then were only expected to last 30 years (even though the 30 year panels only have a failure rate of roughly 20% after 30 years) Today, it's amost twice as long, and are about half as expenisve. With the increase of in cost of energy, the ROI would be near 10 years... depending on usage of course. The road blocks the utilities have put on smart grid technology has sent that back, probably 10 to 20 years.
.
No, you're not stealing from other users. That is not how energy works, or how utility lines work.
G Luv

Marietta, GA

#8 May 3, 2013
"So basically you abuse the grid as your battery and shift the cost onto all the other users. Thanks a lot."

Solar power generally reduces the stress on the grid, since it tends to lower peaks. No one is "abusing the grid" as a battery.
Dude

Spotsylvania, VA

#9 May 3, 2013
G Luv wrote:
"So basically you abuse the grid as your battery and shift the cost onto all the other users. Thanks a lot."
Solar power generally reduces the stress on the grid, since it tends to lower peaks. No one is "abusing the grid" as a battery.
That's a good point, actually.

Since: Mar 13

Location hidden

#10 May 3, 2013
Dude wrote:
<quoted text>No, they sell it to the market when they have excess, and buy it back when they have a shortage. It's smart grid technology, which just became a lot more expensive because the utilities are trying to end the practice.
But they sell it in small dribbles and demand large gushes. So the utilities need to have a power sourse on line to supply their gushes but they don't pay the utility for the service. Instead, they force the utility to buy power that isn't wanted. Why don't I sell you water you don't want at $0.50/gallon, then demand that you sell me back some water at $0.10/gallon. Great deal, for me. Not so much for you (you being the utility here).
Dude wrote:
It will lower your bills enough to pay for it, 10 years ago it was a 30 ROI, but solar panels then were only expected to last 30 years (even though the 30 year panels only have a failure rate of roughly 20% after 30 years) Today, it's amost twice as long, and are about half as expenisve.
But again it is not the panels that are the issue but the rest of the system that they demand but don't pay for. Their system will only be cost effective when they can be fully satisfied energywise WITHOUT forcing others to cover their hidden costs.
Dude wrote:
With the increase of in cost of energy, the ROI would be near 10 years... depending on usage of course. The road blocks the utilities have put on smart grid technology has sent that back, probably 10 to 20 years.
IBID
Dude wrote:
No, you're not stealing from other users. That is not how energy works, or how utility lines work.
That IS how utilities work and it is effectivly theft from all the other utility customers that have to pay to cover their hidden costs.

Since: Mar 13

Location hidden

#11 May 3, 2013
G Luv wrote:
"So basically you abuse the grid as your battery and shift the cost onto all the other users. Thanks a lot."
Solar power generally reduces the stress on the grid, since it tends to lower peaks. No one is "abusing the grid" as a battery.
That WOULD be a good point except the main peak of the demand generally takes place when the sun is low in the sky. The PV systems generally shave the mid-day demand when utilities actually make the money to pay for the peak capacity that happens later. This shaving means the power during "peak" TOD will have to become more expensive to cover the total costs, but those that get that PV subsidy will not have to pay for the damage they do.
Dude

Spotsylvania, VA

#12 May 3, 2013
KitemanSA wrote:
<quoted text> But they sell it in small dribbles and demand large gushes. So the utilities need to have a power sourse on line to supply their gushes but they don't pay the utility for the service. Instead, they force the utility to buy power that isn't wanted. Why don't I sell you water you don't want at $0.50/gallon, then demand that you sell me back some water at $0.10/gallon. Great deal, for me. Not so much for you (you being the utility here).
<quoted text> But again it is not the panels that are the issue but the rest of the system that they demand but don't pay for. Their system will only be cost effective when they can be fully satisfied energywise WITHOUT forcing others to cover their hidden costs.
<quoted text> IBID
<quoted text> That IS how utilities work and it is effectivly theft from all the other utility customers that have to pay to cover their hidden costs.
Well, if you understood supply and demand you would understand that when demand is high, the cost is high, and when demand is low, the cost is low. The unregulated electricity market updates very rapidly (every 15 seconds), for example; right now it's selling at $29.92/MWh; the regulated market it hourly. Most people use most of their electricity at the same time. So when people are buying from the grid, they will be buying at the most expensive rates, and selling at lower rates. This would allow small generation "peaker" units to shut down. So the small generator would be buying high, selling low, or rescheduling their lives around peak hours. That would mean, they would wake up at 2 or 3 am or 10 or 11 am to start their day, take showers, eat breakfast and do laundry. That would also mean that they end their days at either 3 to 4 PM. That is not exactly when the rest of the world works.
.
Others don't cover their hidden costs, that is not how it works. Like GLuv points out, their usage would actually be removed from the system, reducing loads on systems.
.
IBid nothing, it would reduce the load on existing systems, which would effectively extend the life of the system. Saving any cost adjustment the rate payer would have to pay for maintenance, or more likely just passed on to the shareholder.
.
That isn't how utilities work, and it wouldn’t be theft from others. Right now, the system can only hold what is being used. There is a very small amount being discharged to ground and to capacitors to ensure there are no surges resulting in power outages. The utilities control the generators start and shut down, or adjust the loads) up or down to ensure minimal waste. It is mathematically impossible to put more on than what is being resisted or converted, which in layman's terms, is being used, period.
.
Right now it's $26.70/ MWh
Dude

Spotsylvania, VA

#13 May 3, 2013
KitemanSA wrote:
<quoted text> That WOULD be a good point except the main peak of the demand generally takes place when the sun is low in the sky. The PV systems generally shave the mid-day demand when utilities actually make the money to pay for the peak capacity that happens later. This shaving means the power during "peak" TOD will have to become more expensive to cover the total costs, but those that get that PV subsidy will not have to pay for the damage they do.
That’s actually a great point, but it goes against your argument. Tthey would be generating less at demand so they would have to purchase from the system at higher rates. It's supply and demand, so the cost would be market rates. There is no damage done. Utilities make most of their income during peak season and peak times, I don't know where you got the idea of utilities making money during mid-day demand, because that is categorically false. In fact, they sometime lose money during mid day, and night ops, but start up and shut down costs more money due to non-generating fuel costs, so they lose money during mid day to avoid those costs.
.
I don't know where you get this idea that it would cause damage, either, if anything, it reduces load which preserves the system. I don't know where you get your information from, but it is as wrong as wrong can be.

Since: Mar 13

Location hidden

#14 May 4, 2013
Dude wrote:
<quoted text> Well, if you understood supply and demand you would understand that when demand is high, the cost is high, and when demand is low, the cost is low. The unregulated electricity market updates very rapidly (every 15 seconds), for example; right now it's selling at $29.92/MWh;
If what they had was supply and demand, I'd agree, but it is not. What they PAY to large providers changes rapidly. What they CHARGE is regulated and typically has two rates per season, peak and off peak. Most places require that they buy solar at peak rates. It is the peak rate that they rely on to average all the hourly rates and usages to try to make a profit. But if they must BUY at that rate and can not therefore sell as much at that rate, they wind up losing money.

Allow the utilities to TRULY work under supply and demand signals, and then we will have a cost efficient system. But that won't happen when there are purchase mandates.

Since: Mar 13

Location hidden

#15 May 4, 2013
Dude wrote:
<quoted text>That’s actually a great point, but it goes against your argument. Tthey would be generating less at demand so they would have to purchase from the system at higher rates. It's supply and demand, so the cost would be market rates. There is no damage done. Utilities make most of their income during peak season and peak times, I don't know where you got the idea of utilities making money during mid-day demand, because that is categorically false. In fact, they sometime lose money during mid day, and night ops, but start up and shut down costs more money due to non-generating fuel costs, so they lose money during mid day to avoid those costs.
.
I don't know where you get this idea that it would cause damage, either, if anything, it reduces load which preserves the system. I don't know where you get your information from, but it is as wrong as wrong can be.
Again, you presume a supply and demand driven pricing system but there isn't one. Therefore your logic train is faulty. I got my information from a long interest and several recent reports about utilities warning rate setting agencies that the system is being messed up by purchase mandates.
Dude

Spotsylvania, VA

#16 May 4, 2013
KitemanSA wrote:
<quoted text> If what they had was supply and demand, I'd agree, but it is not. What they PAY to large providers changes rapidly. What they CHARGE is regulated and typically has two rates per season, peak and off peak. Most places require that they buy solar at peak rates. It is the peak rate that they rely on to average all the hourly rates and usages to try to make a profit. But if they must BUY at that rate and can not therefore sell as much at that rate, they wind up losing money.
Allow the utilities to TRULY work under supply and demand signals, and then we will have a cost efficient system. But that won't happen when there are purchase mandates.
You must be taking about the Voluntary Green Power Program. Under the program, customers who have solar panels would sell all their solar power to Dominion for $0.15 per KWh, and buy regular fossil-fuel electricity from Dominion at the normal retail rate of about $0.11 cents. The cost to Dominion is $0.04 kWh. Dominion then resells the solar power to the participants in its Green Power Program, not for the 4 cents it costs the company, but for 11 cents. Dominion would keep 7 cents/kWh. Of course, that's a 3MW program, and is only limited to the voluntary program. It does not account for other PPAs (power purchase agreements) not in that program. A voluntary program is no mandate, and there isn't a mandated PPA price set. I'm sure you could try to negotiate for one, but it's highly unlikely that the utility would agree to it.
Dude

Spotsylvania, VA

#17 May 4, 2013
KitemanSA wrote:
<quoted text> Again, you presume a supply and demand driven pricing system but there isn't one. Therefore your logic train is faulty. I got my information from a long interest and several recent reports about utilities warning rate setting agencies that the system is being messed up by purchase mandates.
Yes, utilities are concerned about people "dropping off the grid" and are even suing some that are because they have a monopoly to provide power to a service area. They are actively lobbying for regulation to protect their interest. There may be rate setting going on in places like California to incentivize people to invest in green energy, but not here. The local utility wields enormous power in Richmond. Right now, unless you're part of a voluntary program, you can enter into a PPA. It will still be favorable to the utility, but it will still offset some cost to the investor.

Since: Mar 13

Location hidden

#19 May 4, 2013
Dude wrote:
<quoted text>Yes, utilities are concerned about people "dropping off the grid" and are even suing some that are because they have a monopoly to provide power to a service area.
Actually, they wouldn't care AT ALL if these folks "dropped off the grid". What they object to is having these folks stay ON the grid and forcing the grid to buy their power at absurdly high rates; all the while requiring the grid to provide them backup services at absurdly LOW rates.
Dude

Spotsylvania, VA

#20 May 5, 2013
KitemanSA wrote:
<quoted text> Actually, they wouldn't care AT ALL if these folks "dropped off the grid". What they object to is having these folks stay ON the grid and forcing the grid to buy their power at absurdly high rates; all the while requiring the grid to provide them backup services at absurdly LOW rates.
They do care if they lose customers, that is absurd. You cannot buy power that is provided from you from a third party's solar panels, even if they are sitting on your property. You have to buy or rent them.

They're not being required to buy their power at absurdly high rates, and provide back up services at absurdly low rates. It is simply not true. In fact, they're buying at a high rate and selling it back at a higher rate, but only in a volunteer program. They are also charging standby rates. I don't know where you get your information from, but it is false.
Ohms Law

Washington, DC

#21 May 5, 2013
Mr Kiteman makes the erroneous assumption that most solar installations run 120 volt AC. They don't.

They also do not include phase matching equipment that would be required to "sell back" electricity to the power company.

Eagle scout hit it on the head. He's more prepared than you.

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