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Feeding solar power back into municipal grid: Issues and finger-pointing

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Posted by Home Guy on April 4, 2011, 1:08 am
We have a residential energy program here in Ontario (Canada) that I
really don't agree with (called the Micro-Fit program) where the
electricity from roof-mounted solar panels is purchased by the
provincial power authority (OPA) at something like 80 cents per kw-hour
(a crazy-high fee that will have to be subsidized by somebody - ie the
general population, taxpayers, etc).

I believe all the details for this can be found here:


A neighbor of mine had a free evaluation done on his home to see how
many panels situated on his roof would generate how much electricity.

The problem he's facing is that two different levels of power
distribution (the city-owned municipal owned and operated company, and
the provincial or regional power supplier or distributor that either
supplies the electricity to our city or owns the high and medium-voltage
lines and sub-stations where the electricity is stepped down) are
pointing the finger at each other by stating that there is a capacity
problem caused by the other as the reason why his solar panel
installation (which he hasn't yet contracted to be installed) can't be
connected to the grid.

It's my impression that any electricy that he'd be generating would
essentially be 2-phase 208 volts (ie - identical to the service that
enters our homes) and this electricity would simply be inserted or wired
in parallel through a meter to his existing electrical service.  I don't
see how the capacity (or lack thereof) of the sub-station serving our
corner of the city plays any role as to whether or not our local grid
can accept and utilize the estimated 5 or 6 kw that his panels are
likely to put out at maximum.

This issue has recently come up as indicated by this:

The OPA is proposing that all new microFIT applications submitted on or
after December 8, 2010, would need an offer to connect from their local
distribution company before the OPA issues a microFIT conditional offer
of contract.  The proposed rule change can be viewed here.


According to this document:


Page 18 shows the most likely connection scheme - which is to connect
the Microfit PV project to the grid on the customer's side of his load
meter (ie - "behind the meter" - the load meter that is).

My basic thesis here is that I think any argument about the capacity of
the "grid" (where-ever or what-ever the "grid" is) being at or near
capacity and thus the application for eligibility to get the green light
for approval is bogus.  We are talking about installations that can't
generate more than 10 kw - and more likely would only generate 5 or 6 kw
on a mid-summer day, with the bulk of that energy being consumed by the
home owner's own AC unit (I'm sure) with little or none to spare to be
injected back into the neighborhood grid.


Posted by Mark on April 4, 2011, 2:17 am
 We are talking about installations that can't

agreed, this is actually a bureaucratic  economics or business problem
and they are trying to call it a technical problem.

It isn't a technical problem.


Posted by vaughn on April 4, 2011, 11:36 am

I would certainly be tempted by that deal.  That's better than the long-term
return of the stock market.  There are, however, other factors.  I would need to
be convinced that the panels 1) would likely survive a hurricane  and 2) their
installation would not damage my roofing system.


Posted by Tom P on April 5, 2011, 12:50 pm
 On 04/04/2011 01:36 PM, vaughn wrote:

Up front - you should in any case arrange for your building insurance to
be extended to include cover for the panels. Why? Because if it does
blow away in a gale or catch fire or whatever and they don't know about
it, in the worst case the insurance could refuse to pay for the damage.
  The additional insurance for my roof panels costs here (Germany) 88
per year.  There are cheaper offers but I preferred to use the same
company for all the building related insurance to avoid any finger
pointing problems in the event of a claim.
It is possible that the insurer might demand that the roof structure be
checked by a surveyor before you start work. As far as any damage to the
roof during installation, a reputable installation/roofing company
should in any case have professional liability insurance.

Posted by krw@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz on April 6, 2011, 12:45 am

As long as the government can rob peter to pay you.

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