What happens if one third of all Australian households wnt off-the-grid?…/#!

The Australian national science agency CSIRO has undertaken a study into how the electricity grid in Australia could develop over the coming decades.

Check out this excellent article on the state of play of solar users versus electricity utilities in the US.
You know our thoughts on this topic!

If you wonder why America’s utilities are rattled by the explosive growth in rooftop solar -- and are pushing back -- William Walker has a story for you.

What do you think of the "Sunlighthouse" - Austria's first carbon neutral house?

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Seems Californian houses command a premium if they have solar PV systems - values increased about $5,900 per kilowatt according to this study.

A new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds that houses with rooftop solar panels sell for higher prices than comparable non-solar homes.

"A sustainability-focused UC Davis housing community is generating 87 percent of its own electricity, short of the university’s ambitious goal that the development produce all of the energy it consumes."
The article states: "Though West Village is producing the amount of energy that models predicted, resident consumption is significantly higher than expected, according to the report."

Seems there is no real incentive for residents to save energy, so all the energy efficient b...ells and whistles may not be enough. People must be motivated, incentivized or similar to get off their duffs and save power!

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Tenants use more electricity than site’s solar panels produce.

Interesting commentary on the future impact of rooftop solar PV on electricity utilities.
Solar PV is recognized as a disruptive technology and a threat to the established utility industry...

It wasn’t that long ago when making a phone call required a massive network of copper wire. But advances in wireless technology and a torrent of new competitors allowed customers to “cut the cord” affordably.

Interesting article on the household solar PV "proposed extra charges" debate in Australia.
The author hits the nail on the head in her conclusions.
"Perhaps the most interesting assumption is that it is more politically and technically feasible to charge solar consumers higher fixed network fees, than to charge wealthy, high energy using households for turning on air-conditioning at peak times...
This sits at odds with earlier industry research that critical peak pricing - w...hich would hit those who consume a lot when local power demand is highest - is the most effective pricing method for reducing peak demand. Industry-commissioned research last year estimated the present value benefit of critical peak pricing at $385 million to $1.3 billion in avoided or deferred network upgrades."

We have made many comments on this topic and it is nice to see others calling it for what it is.

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If I install solar panels and a car battery to run my air conditioner, should I pay higher electricity network fees? The electricity industry and Queensland’s Energy Minister would say yes, but is that…

Wow - look how much standby power laptops, DVR, etc. actually use!
If you want a more comprehensive list, check out:

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Redwood Coast Energy Authority

Are there vampires in your house? An estimated 10% of US electricity is consumed by the "vampire loads" of electronics using power when they are off or sitting... idle while not in use. You can borrow a watt meter from the Energy Authority's free tool lending library to help you hunt down and put to rest the energy vampires lurking in your home.

For additional info on standby energy use check out:

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Attention Minnesota home owners thinking of installing solar PV systems!
Seems there are changes afoot that make solar PV less financially attractive in future. Better do your sums to see if it is worth buying solar PV now or waiting a little longer...

The popular Xcel Energy program to subsidize solar panels on Minnesota homes and businesses is slated for major changes next year that may make it less attractive to customers who install such systems

Here is a nice infographic on the economic benefits of making a home energy efficient.

Solar power is the biggest bang for your buck - but also the second most expensive option given! More mundane things like insulation, sealing, programmable thermostats etc. are much cheaper but give a better return on investment as a %.

(source -…/infographic-economics-making-y…)

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Just came across another "cute animation" sales video for DIY solar panels to "free me from the greedy utility companies". For $37 I get lots of books and coaching to make a home solar PV system from scratch.
I just googled it and quickly concluded these type of things are little dodgy and have been bouncing around the internet for a few years. Comments I found stated at best you may be able to build a poor quality, unreliable system; while at worst it is simply a scam.

Has anyone actually purchased one of these things?
I realize there may be a few different products out there - which are the good, the bad and the ugly??!!

Heads up for Connecticut home owners interested in installing solar PV systems:
There is a new website from the local agency responsible for renewable energy -
You can get an idea of what type of system(s) appropriate for you, arrange quotes and get options on financing.
Not bad.

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ROCKY HILL >> The state’s quasi-public agency in charge of overseeing renewable energy in Connecticut launched a new website Monday designed to provide homeowners with information regarding whether their homes are suitable for solar energ

Georgians revolt!
Another case of power companies trying to gouge money but additional levies against hoem owners with solar PV installed...

A crowd of about 50 people gave Georgia Public Service Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton an earful Monday night concerning a proposed Georgia Power rate hike and controversial proposal to charge solar power users a new fee.

Attention all Aussies with rooftop solar PV systems!

Solar Citizens have a petition to lobby against proposed new network charges for owners of solar rooftop installations.
You can sign up on the link below.


We have written about this topic before...
Seems governments and grid operators give out rebates and generous tariffs to make solar power more attractive one day, then take it all back the next!

The basic premise that home owners with solar panels do not pay their fair share of the cost to maintain the electricity grid is nonsense of the highest order!
Electricity produced from solar is a valuable commodity that is sold back to the grid at an agreed rate. If a home owner invests in a large enough system and reduce their own consumption of power, then it is reasonable and expected that they should have a smaller power bill (or god-forbid make a small income from their utility!).
This does not mean they do not "pay" for the grid infrastructure - this cost simply comes off the total bill.

For example, our home electricity bill used to be around $500 per quarter. Of this, about $400 was the metered electricity consumption, the other $100 were network charges and taxes.
Now we have a new 5kW solar PV system, and we made a massive $7 "profit" in the first quarter! The $100 network charges and taxes were still there, it is just that the total bill was a net credit to us as we exported enough electricity at a good tariff.
If we are not paying our fair share of the grid costs, I should have made at least a hundred bucks!
By the way, the many thousands of dollars spent on the PV system need to be repaid as well, so I am not sure if we are exactly making a profit just yet!

This issue is hot topic in the US and Australia. Yet the basic argument outlined above is rarely discussed in the media.
This is a blatant money grab from grid operators and their lobbyists and must be seen for what it really is!
Change that by sharing this post (and pardon my ranting)!

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Solar Citizens

Did you see this headline in the Australian? They're at it again - trying to tax solar.

Big power companies are fighting to see every solar home hit with a just to connect to the grid. Tell our State Premiers and Energy Ministers that you won’t stand for a tax on the sun by signing our petition here:

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Interesting, and sobering, study about how most Americans do not use programmable thermostats (PT) correctly. This is due to a number of reasons: many do know know how to use them and simply use them as an on/off switch (!), type of controls (touchscreen vs. buttons), and only 30% of low income household had PTs installed.

Guys, if you do have a PT please learn to use it as it will save you $$$ over time!
If you are thinking of upgrading or buying new, consider a touchscreen ...controller.

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What do you all think of this:
A US electric utility is proposing an additional $50-100 charge for customers with solar PV systems!
The basic argument is that PV system owners benefit from the grid infrastructure whilst not necessarily paying their fair share...
This argument seems to neglect the idea that these "customers" are actually producing and selling a valuable commodity and usually the price is set bu others!

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Arizona Public Service (APS), the electric utility provider for much of Arizona, has submitted a proposal to charge a $50 - $100 fee for its customers who install solar panels for their own energy generation and use.