One day's production


With a 45-panel 11.70 kW solar array, we’re currently producing enough electricity in one day to power two or three average houses (72kWh yesterday), and our highest production in May 2015 was 76kWh in a single day.

The surplus power we generate (mostly during the spring and early summer months) is fed back into the local grid and helps defray our power company’s cost of providing power to our neighbors. Arizona Power Supply (APS) pays us $.03/kWh for our surplus solar energy, and they turn around and sell it to the neighbors for as much as $.24/kWh.

Other times when we’re not generating power (dark or cloudy) we use power from their grid just like everyone else, and we pay the same rates along with our taxes.

We paid to install the solar array and we pay to maintain it. The only cost APS incurs is… nothing. So they profit from our solar power, and that power costs them nothing to produce. That’s a pretty favorable business position for them to be in.

So why are they scared?

Recently you started seeing ad campaigns claiming you are subsidizing your neighbor’s solar use. APS claims “net-metering” of surplus solar energy will cost them (and therefore non-solar customers) more money. Net-metering is when the power company pays us for our extra solar energy that is pumped into their grid, and they re-sell it to others for a pure profit.

But don’t believe them. Their math is, well, not even mathematical… they have an agenda and are literally making things up just to vilify the adoption of solar energy for no other reason than to slow it down. Believe me, there is no time like the present to buy solar, because the “power” these corporations hold over our government and our local legislators is endless… and they WILL figure out a way to change the game.

Their ruse is irresponsible and meant to fool you and our law makers into thinking solar isn’t viable technologically or financially, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. These ad campaigns are paid for by “Big Energy”… so do you think they have an anti-solar agenda?

Private citizens (and many businesses and schools) are paying to install these roof-top solar systems and in the case of APS and other power companies, they actually profit from our surplus power… and the big energy companies pay nothing to produce it.

So how are you subsidizing your neighbor’s solar installation?

The fact is you’re not; it’s the other way around, and that scares them. In the long run, this could actually save the power companies millions of dollars because it slows the necessity of upgrading their antiquated infrastructure. So again, why are they scared?

Behemoth & monopolistic big energy companies (oil, NG, coal, nuclear) are scared right now because solar energy is viable, and it’s taking off. It’s so viable in fact, it poses an imminent threat to their profitability. It’s also a serious threat to the stranglehold they have on our government, our economy, and our judicial system.

Privatized and decentralized clean energy will undeniably cost these huge conglomerates market share, but the loss of market share isn’t necessarily what they fear most. Their worst fear is the loss of power (and I’m not talking about electricity).

Maintaining a controlling and manipulative position is what compels these organizations to spend tens of millions demonizing clean energy. They’re relentlessly lobbying against it and spreading miss-information with no other reason than to slow down its inevitable adoption. And make no mistake, it is inevitable. Solar or otherwise, we will eventually be forced to use alternatives.

Carbon energy sources like oil, coal, and natural gas are non-renewable. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever, and the scarcer they become the more we’ll pay through the nose for them. And big energy knows this. They stand to profiteer more off us in the final days of this outdated carbon-energy policy than in all the decades prior.

But when we as a civilization know something is absolutely going to happen (its just a matter of time) isn’t the smartest path one taken sooner than later? One where we get out in front of the problem? One where we figure out a way to mutually profit from the change, and in doing so, maybe even save our planet?

I’m no priest, I’m not even very religious, but I’m pretty sure if there is a God, a path of ecological responsibility and cleanliness is one that leads to Godliness. And if there is no God (in the literal protect-me-from-harm sense of the word), that’s even more incentive to keep our earth healthy, because there is no salvation in self-destruction!

If you look at the inevitable depletion and ever-increasing costs of carbon energy sources coupled with the potential destruction of our planet, it certainly seems smart to pursue clean energy alternatives without hesitation, even if they do cost more per kWh than oil in some cases.

The Federal government is currently offering incentives for us to install clean energy with a 30% tax subsidy (assuming you pay that much in taxes in the first place). They do this for many reasons but one stands out in my mind: It’s a matter of National Security.

Our National power-grid is perilously close to collapse and is dangerously vulnerable to outages affecting entire regions of the USA. We need to take some pressure off the grid or risk the lives of many. We’ve been pretty lucky here in the Southwest, but that luck will eventually run out. The vulnerability of our decaying power distribution network is a clear and present danger to our National Security and it’s a ticking time bomb that could be exploited by evil-doers.

We know outages of any scale and duration will result in suffering and death because they’ve already occurred, and at an alarming and ever-increasing rate . We can reasonably expect extended loss of power in a region to eventually collapse the economy and destroy much more than just our ability to watch TV and browse the Internet.

Imagine no access to your money, no credit card, no ATM. No food, no water, no medicine, no gas. We’re talking anarchy: tons of guns, take what you want, dog-eat-dog, predators preying on the weak, post-war apocalyptic Road-Warrior kind of stuff…

So I have grave doubts about investing billions into an already antiquated power-grid and generation system that’s ultimately neither scalable nor sustainable. Instead we should push to further decentralize our power generation and in doing so mitigate the inherent large-scale risks of our current carbon-based energy policy.

By investing in solar, wind, and other regionalized clean-energy sources we take immediate load off the already broken power grid, and as clean power-generation efficiencies and power-storage technologies evolve, we can eventually eliminate the need for a national power grid all together.

The complexities of this discussion are way out of our hands and true change can only be affected with sweeping support and action in our government, which we all know isn’t going to happen any time soon… So maybe the best thing we can do is take initiative on our own by looking at the options available right now. Options more accessible and easier to obtain than at any time in our history.

Spend some time looking at this mathematically and my bet is you’ll find it makes more sense than you thought. If you have any doubt about the viability of going solar, contact your local solar installer and have them sit down with you and analyze the numbers.

Do the math!

My installer actually took direct excel reports from my APS invoices, ran calculations based on our roof size, angle, and other factors and helped us intelligently design an array that accomplished our goal: To save money on day one.

And guess what? It worked!

And I’m just one of thousands who can prove it’s working, and it’s working well.

So let’s do the math:

BEFORE SOLAR: We were on APS’ “Equalizer”. This resulted in fixed monthly payments of $260/mo. from about May to October, and $220/mo. the rest of the year, totaling approximately $2880 annually.

AFTER SOLAR: Now we pay $168/mo. for our solar loan (12 years @ 2.99% apr), and our APS power bill is nearly zero ($12 tax) for nine (yes 9) months of the year. The other three months we still pay our $168 loan, and we withdrawal from our “net-metering” credits to pay an average of only $100 beyond our loan in September and October, totaling $2256 annually.

Before: $2880 annually. 
After: $2256 annually (we put zero $$ down to buy this).


And the cost of electricity is ONLY going to keep climbing up, while my cost to produce it with solar is fixed for the next 11 years and mostly free after that!

The math doesn’t lie: Anyone good (or bad!) with numbers will see if you engineer the solar array size correctly, you can achieve what is called an instant Return On Investment, or “ROI”.

Right from the start, we are saving money. But perhaps more importantly we’re investing our hard-earned money in a privately owned and decentralized power plant that (once paid off) will continue to produce the preponderance of our day-time power needs for nearly free, and at the same time free us from the bondage of relentless, inevitable increases in carbon-based energy… Oh, and we might just be doing our part to save our planet if you believe in that sort of thing.

So yea, I’m a believer.

I’m a believer in solar energy, and I’m a believer in putting the power back where it belongs: In the hands of the people, and not with our Government or the faceless Corporations that own it!


7 thoughts on “POWER TO THE PEOPLE

  1. Chris;

    Very interesting commentary. Do you have stats yet on your total power production for the year yet? I’d love to sea your seasonal variations in output. I’m also curious about the specs on the solar panels you bought…


    1. We have 42 panels, and each panel is 260 W.

      It was installed in the end of October 2013. Since then its been generating anywhere from 55 to 72 kWh per day.

      Our APS bill in Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, and April were $12.00 (Taxes only).

      APS hasn’t provided a full accounting of our net-metering credits yet, but calculating the known monthly production in comparison to our usage allows me to accurately calculate and predict.

      Based on what we are producing compared to what we have used in the past 3 years (based on CSV files downloaded from APS showing our past 3 years usage) we can also very accurately estimate what we will use.

      Heat appears to have an affect on the production. In April I compared the highest production days, and correlated those figures with ambient temperatures. The coolest days combined with clear weather resulted in the highest production days.

      It’s been pretty flat at 68-72 kWh every day since early-April and I am guessing it may go slightly down during the hottest months.

      1. I also have a meter installed that monitors total product compared to usage so I know with a good degree of accuracy how much we have in credits. The app is called “Sunny Portal” by SMA. As of now, it says our total production since Jan 15 (when the monitor was installed) is 6.8 MWh.

  2. Two small corrections from the original version (which are now updated in the main text):

    1. The net metering rate we are compensated at is only .03 cents per kWh (not .10). It was reduced by APS and the AZ Corporation Commission in spite of our “Grandfathered” status in the program as of April 2014.
    2. Our array is 10.92 kW array, not 10.44 as originally stated (so its a bit bigger 🙂

  3. UPDATE: We just received our May/June electricity bill. The invoice was for tax only, $13.50.

    During that period, we had both air-conditioners running at 78 degrees (which means they run most of the day, and periodically at night). We also have a pool pump running five hours a day, and two refrigerators.

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