Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Solar PV: Connection

Principle 1: Observe and interact

It took about seven weeks before the system was actually turned on, fortunately this has been during mid-winter, the time of year that generates the least amount of electricity. The hold up was the time it took for the electrical inspection and meter change over. I have not yet received a bill for the meter change over, the total cost so far for the 1.5kW system is A$3390.
I have taken a lot more interest in seeing how our power is being used since we have had the system turned on, while observing our system generate power and feed into the grid. We have generated 54kWhs, exporting 41.8kWhs and importing 18.1 kWhs over the past two weeks, using (54 - 41.8 + 18.1 =) 30.3 kWhs. This is an average of 2.16 kWh per day, which is significantly less than our average over the past year of 2.9 kWh per day.

Grid interactive inverter showing watts generated over a day during mid winter
The newly installed import / export meter showing power exported to the grid over the first day and a half

I received an email from the Alternative Technology Association a couple of days ago with a pre-emtive warning that the Victorian Governments intends to change the premium feed-in tariff. I predict that the generous rate of 60c / kWh will be reduced considerably. The ATA told its members who have recently installed PV systems to contact "your preferred retailer to discuss establishing a premium feed-in tariff contract for when the smart meter has been installed." I had no idea that this needed to be done.Damien from the ATA told me
You have to have a signed ‘premium feed-in tariff contract’ with an electricity retailer in order to obtain the feed-in credit. It is a specific market contract, between yourself and the retailer.
The silly thing is that they don’t just send you this contract, once your system and meter is installed and signed off, as you indicated in earlier forms that you wanted to take part in the feed-in tariff. That’s large, unweildly organisations for you!
I hope that the form you have just filled in is a specific ‘premium feed-in tariff contract’. Only once one of these is signed and dated can you begin to receive feed-in tariff credits.
I contacted Origin, my retailer, and established that I had not yet entered a contract for the premium feed-in tariff. I told them that I was not happy about this situation, as I may have missed out on the reason why I got the system when I did. I filled out the forms and emailed them to Origin today, asking them if I have done it all correctly and when I might find out when this is all sorted out. I got back this response:
Yes this is fine, thanks. As discussed the rate you were on previous to returning this agreement was the standard rate on 23.5c. The 66c will be applied to the account and effective today.
I'm glad I checked this all out, I certainly got a good return on my ATA membership, I think that the email that they sent me will make me thousands of $ over the next 15 years.

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