20 year energy plan...
 

20 year energy plan or disaster?  

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Cory
 Cory
(@Cory)
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October 6, 2009 4:23 pm  

Afternoon everyone,

I have been closely following the current plan for our islands to boost energy production and lower the costs of delivering enegy for the people. I must say i am extremely dissapointed wtih the outcome so far. Looking in from the outside, it appears to me that this is only about money. Big interest (Hovensa/WAPA) pushing this down the peoples throats...DO this now or suffer is the message. Last night at the PSC community meeting (which was attended by a large contingent from the colorado based company proposing the plan, all in black suits speaking for the first 3 hours), they went into great detail about how they would use scrubbers and various other techniques to make the byproduct safe. This proves that we are dealing with a dangerous material. Burning trash and using pet coke may seem to be a wise economical choice due to excess trash and reduced costs of exporting/shipping petroleum by-products and at the same time adding many megawatts of power. What they havent considered is how this will affect the people and environment of the USVI in the long run. Whats the REAL cost? Do they include health costs over 20 years? Reduced tourism costs? There are multiple towns/cities on the US mainland that have discontinued utilizing pet coke for energy needs...why? Osha manuals/MSDS (material safety data sheets) say that the ash produced is irritating to nose, lungs and skin, just to name a few...To me that means NOT GOOD FOR YOU. What about 20 years of exposure? No one has this data that relates to our islands. What will that do to people down wind of the ash site, what effect will that have on the coral reef over TWENTY years... noone can say. Our islands thrive on tourism, if we are kown as a dirty island and the fish and wildlife and the people of the USVI are affected, all i see is a bleak future. Another fact that is not spoken is that it will be at least 3-4 years before any reduction in cost for electricity consumers with the proposed plan. A solar or wind farm can be operating in a few months...
Instead of utilizing our most abundant resources (sun & wind) we chose to go the cheapest way without regard for the well-being of our people. The USVI is at the back of the pack when it comes to renewable energy, and this plan will keep us there. We had a chance to make a statement and lead the way. Im sad for all people of the USVI and very mad at our elected officials for allowing this to happen

Thoughts??

Cory K.


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Linda J
(@Linda_J)
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October 6, 2009 4:44 pm  

I wasn't there and obviously you were, so I'll rely on your review of the meeting. But most ideas of this kind have good and bad aspects - getting rid of trash would be great.

Do I remember correctly that you have a financial interest in solar/wind power? When posting this kind of report it's helpful, IMO, to declare where you stand. It allows the reader to add a context to your comments.

Me? I want clean, doable and cheap!!


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Cory
 Cory
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October 6, 2009 4:59 pm  

Actually, i wasnt there, but have spoken and listened to people that were. Roger morgans show today was all over it and there will be a live broadcast tonight from 6-9.. Government announcement and im sure a continuation of todays discussion.

Does it really matter if i have a financial interest in solar? Yes i am very pro-renewable energy and its my career path. Regardless...I posted this because i have concern over the health and the overall effect on me and the islands i live on, not for financial gain.


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Linda J
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October 6, 2009 5:30 pm  

Yes, I think it matters. First of all, this is a complicated subject and cannot be condensed into a sound bite - COKE BAD/SOLAR GOOD. Secondly you always brush off the upfront costs as being insignificant. For most people, $12,000 is a huge amount of money. A 10-12 year pay-back does not soften the initial blow. And thirdly, until you can explain the benefits in a way the average person (me) can understand, you are spitting in the wind. I went back and read over some of the discussions on this topic. It made my head hurt. They might as well have been in another language.

I certainly am not qualified to give business advice, but I'd suggest you install your product in 3-6 homes at a greatly reduced cost and them use them as examples of the benefits to be gained. Or talk to some of your present customers about letting you bring prospective clients to see their systems.

I can feel your frustration and I'm sorry if I offended you. But when you have an interest in a company or business it's a good idea to say so up front. I work at the Buccaneer and whenever I talk about hotels on STX, that's always the first thing I say.


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Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
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October 6, 2009 5:37 pm  

The fact that most people in the USVI drink the water collected off the roof of their house makes it Very Important to consider the effects of ash and wind borne byproducts on the cistern water storage - the long term effects here could be lethal.


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Lizard
(@Lizard)
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October 6, 2009 6:17 pm  

One thing is for sure, is that Solar Power has no negative effects on the environment and the carbon based units that live on this planet.


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Bombi
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October 6, 2009 6:41 pm  

Why isn't the PSC persuing the geo-thermal power from NEVIS at 13 cents a KWH ? That's the best deal going.


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Cory
 Cory
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October 6, 2009 7:23 pm  

Secondly you always brush off the upfront costs as being insignificant. For most people, $12,000 is a huge amount of money. A 10-12 year pay-back does not soften the initial blow. quote]

Yes the upfront cost is the biggest problem. Panels, inverters, batteries and labor are expensive, however out of pocket cost is now more like $7-8000 and about 5-6 years payback for a typical system after federal tax credit and VIEO rebates are applied.


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SkysTheLimit
(@SkysTheLimit)
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October 6, 2009 8:39 pm  

Whatever Linda!

He's trying to share valuable info. Too bad if it's too complicated for you(td)


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Trade
(@Trade)
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October 6, 2009 9:18 pm  

He's sharing HIS version. Linda wasn't there so it would be nice to hear the other side. If you want to sell something it would make sense to make it as understandable for future customers without being snotty about it. That goes for satellites as well.


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Linda J
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October 6, 2009 9:38 pm  

I'm a well educated, well off, middle aged woman. I assume I am the demographic Cory is targeting. If I can't understand/am not interested in his product, I thought that information might be of interest to him.

And snottiness(or snootiness for that matter) usually is not a successful selling strategy.


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GoodToGo
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October 6, 2009 10:02 pm  

I'll make this simple - figure out how to reduce/eliminate the up front costs for alternate energy and nobody cares about a coke-fired energy plant anymore. Until then only relatively affluent early adopters will be in the game.

Here's an idea - let's see government backed bonds of companies that would subsidize the upfront cost and then have home owners actually make a monthly payment based on their consumption of energy (obviously it would have to be lower than the monthly cost of traditional energy plants.) It's not novel - it's essentially the same model used by cell phone manufacturers/service providers, your satellite company, etc. with the exception of the government backing which would be need for the alternate energy manufacturers given the longer return periods involved. Just a thought...


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SkysTheLimit
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October 6, 2009 10:56 pm  

Sorry.........but I felt Linda was being a bit snotty and I was just responding. Re-reading my post....I realize the part about "too complicated, too bad" was in poor taste,
Cory should be able to share info here and not be berated. If someone wants to know more about him they can look at his previous posts. He should be able to share HIS side of the story. Although, he should identify his interests.

I just felt like he was shot down about the whole post. 12 year payback??? No, much sooner with rebates and incentives.

Alan
Paradise Satellite
Not affiliated with solar, petcoke, electricity, WAPA, the government.........................


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Jeff Kruse
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October 7, 2009 12:41 am  

I saw in the Caribbean business news today that our power company (prepa) plans on selling power to the VI. Prepa doesn't screw us to bad here. They rely on burning oil but have plans on burning coal. Looks like the VI will get power and PR will have to burn more oil and coal. At least we dont get our water from our roofs.

$8K for solar, come on. My wife and I use about 5KWH a day, no AC, gas stove, gas hot water, all CFL's. My solar system cost $16K. I did the design, installation and shared the shipping costs. I was quoted over 30K from local companies to do this system.

Everything I have learned tells me there is no payback to go solar. The inverters break, batteries go bad quickly, ect. Put the same money in the bank at 4% and you will earn more than you will save with solar. I got a 75% tax credit from the PR governent and my "payback" could happen in 5 to 10 years IF my equipment doesnt break. I'll have to replace the batteries after 5 years and they cost $2500. My electric bill was around $500/year $2500/500= 5 years = never a payback.
Sorry. I didnt do it for a payback.


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Cory
 Cory
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October 7, 2009 2:40 am  

I saw in the Caribbean business news today that our power company (prepa) plans on selling power to the VI. Prepa doesn't screw us to bad here. They rely on burning oil but have plans on burning coal. Looks like the VI will get power and PR will have to burn more oil and coal. At least we dont get our water from our roofs.

$8K for solar, come on. My wife and I use about 5KWH a day, no AC, gas stove, gas hot water, all CFL's. My solar system cost $16K. I did the design, installation and shared the shipping costs. I was quoted over 30K from local companies to do this system.

Everything I have learned tells me there is no payback to go solar. The inverters break, batteries go bad quickly, ect. Put the same money in the bank at 4% and you will earn more than you will save with solar. I got a 75% tax credit from the PR governent and my "payback" could happen in 5 to 10 years IF my equipment doesnt break. I'll have to replace the batteries after 5 years and they cost $2500. My electric bill was around $500/year $2500/500= 5 years = never a payback.
Sorry. I didnt do it for a payback.

Sigh....

First of all....it is so sad to see the poorer nations/territories that will still use fossil fuels for power needs over many more decades 🙁

Jeff! Few questions...

1-What are your qualifications for designing and installing a solar electric system? Did you buy package deal from internet?
2-Did you have a warranty? Systems today have up to 15 years for inverters and 25 years for most panels. What did you get?
3-If you only use 5kWh per day, why did you purchase a system that could produce 2-3 times as much as you use and then have an issue about the payback?

You dont know the current USVI rebate structure, you installed your oversized, inferior warrantied system yourself, and your worried about your equipment breaking. I congratulate you for using gas and CFL's, but maybe you could have used some help in planning your solar electric system.


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Michaelds9
(@Michaelds9)
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Posts: 328
October 7, 2009 2:51 am  

Jeff your batteries should last at least 5-7 years and ten isn't unheard off IF applied and maintained properly.
I know this because sailboaters do it all the time and no group is cheaper than cruising sailors LOL.

In time and when I'm tired of living on the boat plan on building a totally off the grid home and have no worries whatsoever about longevity of the system.


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Jeff Kruse
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October 7, 2009 1:38 pm  

I have been a EE for over 20 years. 2 of my co-workers (licensed PE’s) took the 40 hour class and are now certified PV installers, they helped.
I did not buy a “package” deal but I found the best prices on the internet and negotiated from there. We bought a pallet of panels.
The “local” RE businesses here wanted way too much for everything. I wanted to go local but it was way too much. Shipping cost $2400 and I was able to split that and I still saved many of thousands of dollars.

All my equipment has warranties. The equipment must have good warranties to qualify for the PR tax credit. My Xantrex 4548 inverter has the standard 5 year warranty and I paid $2700 for it. Xantrex is one of the best.

I have 10 Evergreen 205W panels. That’s a 2050W system * 5+ hours of sun (most days) gives me 10+KWH/day production * all losses (charging FLA batteries is not efficient) = a system sized just right. Don’t forget I have to equalize the batteries and that takes significant power.

I don’t have issue with payback. I got my 75% tax credit. I don’t think anyplace has such a tax credit/rebate happening.

The PV class said to use 5 years as the life of FLA batteries to use for the payback calculations. Sure, I hope mine last 10.

Cory, my system is not oversized, the warranty is standard, I have top of the line Xantrex inverter and Charge controller, very good Evergreen Panels, and good Deka 8L16 FLA’s. I don’t expect my inverter or CC to break in 15 years and I hope the batteries last at least 7 years.

Cory, how much would you charge for a 2KW system with a 18KWH battery bank including design and installation on a flat south facing cement roof? I’m sure you may use different equipment but please tell us what you would charge for a similar system so we all can learn.


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Michaelds9
(@Michaelds9)
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October 7, 2009 2:01 pm  

Jeff have you looked at these?
http://www.beutilityfree.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44&Itemid=129

You know what you are doing. Then my next question is if you are experiencing high failure rates of the equipment I assume you know why. Could you share some of the issues you encounter in more detail please? Here or in a PM? batteries go bad quickly How deeply are you discharging the batteries? I imagine you have a power monitor. How many KW per day average?


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stiphy
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October 7, 2009 2:31 pm  

Thanks Jeff for the post, interesting, and I am interested to hear more.

I am still skeptical on the financial viability of solar because I feel like if someone could make money off of it by taking the front end risk and charging me monthly ala any other utility they would. The fact that no one is doing that tells me something and I don't want to be the one taking that risk.

I have excellent credit and would gladly swap out WAPA for another full service utility that installs solar/batteries/inverter's etc. and charges me a minimum monthly fee plus usage. If the cost for this was my WAPA bill minus $.01 and if they maintained my system (aka full service, I don't want to worry about my electricity) I'd do it tomorrow.

Sean


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Jeff Kruse
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October 7, 2009 5:37 pm  

My system has only been running 3 months now. Nothing is failing. All I know about failing equipment is what was said in the class. I could also double my warranty on my inverter if I wanted to pay $400 for the extended warranty. I never buy extended warrantees.

I am discharging 20% every night give or take 5%. I want to keep the batteries healthy. I did however have to do what I thought was an excessive equalization of the batteries because the Specific Gravity was lower than it should have been in some of the cells. I used all the default setting in the Xantrex equipment. Apparently I needed to do long EQ’s.

I use around 5 KWH a day, 3 of that is at night.

My system would maybe make more financial sense if I hooked up to the grid and I may do that in the future. My coworker who got his PV license is connected to the grid and he has 18 panels (we bought a pallet of 28 and I got the other 10). His makes more financial sense and he does not have batteries but his power goes down when the grid goes down.

My electric bill was around $50 a month (depending on the price of oil). The BIG problem for me to connect to the grid is that the “grid tie” insurance here costs $250 a year. If I can get that down to $100 a year I may connect in. Then my batteries can stay fully charged and I won’t lose all the wasted energy that goes with charging the batteries. I designed my system with that in mind.

I don’t have or want a generator. I do have the grid available if something breaks or its cloudy for a week. I was told I could expect 20% energy production during cloudy days. I have found that on really cloudy dark days the energy can be as low as 10% (200w).

One thing I learned is that I am glad I have 2050W’s of panels because it takes A LOT of energy to equalize the batteries. Xantrex uses 2500W when the unit is connect to the grid. I am glad my system is “oversized” 😉 so I can do a proper eq and for those dark days. Also, the extra ($1200 *.75) $300 on spent on two “extra” panels gives me that little extra room for comfort.

It would be great if Cory could quote a 2K/18KWH off grid system so we can talk about the payback time.

I got my my equipment from Affordable solar in ABQ, NM


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IslandHops
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October 7, 2009 6:30 pm  

I have 520W's of panels just on my boat, with 440ah 12v house battery capacity and a 2kw inverter. Solar rules (except when you take your panels off for storm season). I only plan on 5yrs for the FLA's - although eaiser to keep them cooler on the hard than on the boat so your lifespan should be better.

Thanks for the details Jeff - I will likely go grid intertied solar/wind when we build the house, and skip the batteries, although some capacity to run a 12v system in the house (LED/power) will be good too.


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DUN
 DUN
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October 8, 2009 1:33 am  

I am a dealer/service provider for inverter/chargers.
Xantrex requires that you return the unit under warranty(do you have a back up?)
As you know, these things are QUITE heavy.

I suspect battery technology will soon catch up (for use in electric cars perhaps).
This could come about sooner if gas prices rise(oh no!) again.
Or if some sort of carbon foot print tax is utilized.
Battery technology as we use it hasn`t changed (much)in many years.

If you have wind, why not throw in a wind generator?
And,(as the boaters know) D.C. appliances generally use much less power.


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Jeff Kruse
(@Jeff_Kruse)
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October 9, 2009 2:10 pm  

Great. Cory PMed me some info but wants to be cautious posting it because he doesn’t want to look like he is pushing stuff he sells, but I will post some of it because it is great info and interested people should know it.

First, I am pro solar but I am going to tell you I don’t think you will save any money. I did it because it was fun and the PR government “wanted ;)” to pay for 75% of it BUT after seeing your rebate structure I would really need to do some more research. This could save you money.
Cory said you rebate structure allows:
- 50% or $3000 off for batteries
- 50% or $300 off for Charge controller
-50% or $1200 off for inverter
-$3.50/watt max 2k or $7000 for solar panels
So $8200 for grid tied batteryless system, or $11,500 for battery system, then throw in 30% off entire job cost in for of Fed tax credit.

Wow, that’s really good! I don’t understand the section for solar panels. Solar panels can cost under $3.50 a watt now. Does that mean they are basically free? The PR rebate I got was $12000 (tax credit) on $16000 spent. In the VI I would have a rebate of around $10K. I don’t know how the Fed 30% tax credit would work. If it did then the system could be free?

Understanding the rebate structure is critical. Is this a refund/rebate or tax credit, or tax deduction? In PR it’s a tax credit and I can use my $12K a little each year or all in one year depending on income.

Shipping was $2400 for everything from NM but I split the cost with a co worker who did a grid tied system. My shipping costs were only $1200-75%.

I chose a 48V system for better efficiency.

I love my Evergreen panels, they provide more power than I thought they would. My peek power is 2300W on a 2050W spec’d panels. Maybe this could be due to the lens effect of clouds but I routinely see 2100 to 2300 as a peak. Also my angle is set to 17 degrees.

My inverter only has a 5 year standard warranty but 5 more years could be added. It’s a Xantrex and I have the grid handy in case there is a problem.

Whats the Grid Tie insurance cost in the USVI?


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SkysTheLimit
(@SkysTheLimit)
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October 9, 2009 7:24 pm  

Very interesting!!

I was told today by someone close to the issue that pretty much 50% off everything. Solar or wind. He said they would have to give away 1 million a month to use all the stimulus money. And they don't want to send it back!

I was also told you DO NOT have to use a local vendor. You can buy off island if you prefer and the only catch is that the rebate process is delayed because the process doesn't start until it's installed. As opposed to a local vendor starting the process once they know the serial numbers.

Cory? Anyone??


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Jeff Kruse
(@Jeff_Kruse)
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October 9, 2009 7:49 pm  

The " -$3.50/watt max 2k or $7000 for solar panels" appears to me to be 100% of panels up to $7K. The panels I used go for $2.88W now but you could by more expensive panels up to $3.5W if you wanted to.

A 2K system (11KWH a day) looks like a great deal, much more than 50% off but what about installation costs? Do they get a discount/credit/rebate? And how does the FED 30% factor in?

I did my own install and it was A LOT of work. I believe my rack is stronger than a commercial system and it cost me much less. I spent a long time making it but my time was free.


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