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gonetropo
(@gonetropo)
Advanced Member

We just installed a solar system last Thursday. We have never been solar advocates due to the complexity, cost and long ROI of the past systems but with the advent of new technology, the likelihood of WAPA increasing costs, and the federal tax credits, we had a close look into it.

So far, it is really amazing! The best thing about it is that this system is SIMPLE and all the components are made in the U.S. and carry a 25 year warranty!

We opted for a net metering system utilizing 10 panels, 10 micro inverters, and digital monitoring on the web. It took about 6 hours to install the entire system and the meter runs in reverse all day long while the sun is shining. The system sends performance date back to the micro inverter company every 5 minutes where it is loaded to their monitoring website. You, and anyone if approved, can access the site and see the present, daily, weekly and system to date power generation. You can also see exactly what each panel is producing and troubleshoot the system is required.

And the results! For 5 days, WAPA owes us 3KWH! At this rate, we will have a 2 1/2 ROI.

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Topic starter Posted : June 5, 2012 10:03 am
LisaB
(@LisaB)
Advanced Member

That sounds awesome...congrats, and enjoy being unleashed from WAPA!

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Posted : June 5, 2012 10:38 am
stxrocks
(@stx_rocks)
Advanced Member

Looks like a big step toward making WAPA less dependent on fossil fuels was made yesterday. WAPA signed contracts for 18 MW with 3 different companies. Here's a link to the article.

http://stcroixsource.com/content/news/local-news/2012/06/04/wapa-signs-solar-energy-contracts

Anyone want to take bets on Hodge's comments about reducing rates?

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Posted : June 5, 2012 11:03 am
SkysTheLimit
(@SkysTheLimit)
Trusted Member

Sounds like a 2.5 KW Enphase system. I've been reading up on them on the internet and glad to hear it's performing well!!

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Posted : June 5, 2012 11:53 am
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

It would be great to know more about what this system cost you and who installed it.

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Posted : June 5, 2012 11:54 am
EngRMP
(@EngRMP)
Advanced Member

Very cool... congrats.

It seems the only question that hasn't been easily solved is the issue of hurricanes. What is your plan for protecting the panels during hurricanes? If it only took six hours to put them up, then is it equally simple to take them down for hurricanes?

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Posted : June 5, 2012 12:05 pm
SkysTheLimit
(@SkysTheLimit)
Trusted Member

This link will show you what systems in the VI are producing. Pretty darn cool!!!!
https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public_systems

This tells the company story.

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Posted : June 5, 2012 12:46 pm
billd
(@billd)
Trusted Member

I put in 3k and I'm happy I did so. Will put another 3k in this year.

SCREW WAPA!

Billd

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Posted : June 5, 2012 2:05 pm
EngRMP
(@EngRMP)
Advanced Member

I was in Germany this Spring. On the drive from Heidelberg to Munich (about 5 hours), many (many!) farm buildings had solar cells covering their south facing roofs.

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Posted : June 5, 2012 2:19 pm
gonetropo
(@gonetropo)
Advanced Member

I used Solar Express. You can price the entire system, including installation and Fed Tax Credit on their website.
http://solar.vi/

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Topic starter Posted : June 5, 2012 2:44 pm
gonetropo
(@gonetropo)
Advanced Member

EngRMP

I really don't have any intention on removing the panels unless a really big storm is forecasted.

The panels only took a hour to install, if that! They are on aluminum racks and can easily be removed if needed. The micro inverters are mounted under each panel and simply plugs into the PV panel.

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Topic starter Posted : June 5, 2012 2:48 pm
East End Doug
(@east_end_doug)
Advanced Member

Make sure WAPA does a "final" on the system and installs a digital meter. My system went in in Dec.2011 and they still have not done the inspection and changed the meter.

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Posted : June 5, 2012 4:32 pm
Neil
 Neil
(@Neil)
Trusted Member

Congratulations Gonetropo!

Please post photos of your setup.

----

I can't help but feel bad for all the middle and low income families on the island who will be paying more for electricity than you, and can't afford to invest in their own solar setup. At some point, WAPA itself has to have the solution. I just hope it's not too little too late for the island.

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Posted : June 5, 2012 5:19 pm
stiphy
(@stiphy)
Trusted Member

The house I moved into in November of 2011 had 9X160watt panels installed with battery backup using the Outback Inverter and control system. I interfaced the Outback to the internet via computer and can see what I'm producing online. Pretty cool, here's the link: http://sean.mysolarlog.com/

I am generally producing only 6.5-7kw/day which would take a while to payback if I had bought it myself. The system was put in around 2008 so I am going to guess it would be cheaper now and have a better ROI.

Sean

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Posted : June 5, 2012 6:03 pm
Bruno
(@Bruno)
Advanced Member

If you just installed this system last Thursday, that means you haven't received your final inspection from DPNR yet. If you get caught running your system without a final electrical inspection, big fines. Solar Express has only installed a couple of systems in their history. However, they should not have commissioned your system yet. Maybe they are still learning. If you get busted, send the inspector,"Lenny" to see them to pay your fine.

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Posted : June 5, 2012 7:31 pm
SkysTheLimit
(@SkysTheLimit)
Trusted Member

If you just installed this system last Thursday, that means you haven't received your final inspection from DPNR yet. If you get caught running your system without a final electrical inspection, big fines. Solar Express has only installed a couple of systems in their history. However, they should not have commissioned your system yet. Maybe they are still learning. If you get busted, send the inspector,"Lenny" to see them to pay your fine.

Bruno,
I've read your posts and realize you have years of experience with solar and respect your opinion. What is your feeling about the Enphase micro inverters?

Also, How big of a fine?

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Posted : June 5, 2012 8:44 pm
stxrocks
(@stx_rocks)
Advanced Member

The panels can generally be easily removed in the event of a hurricane, however depending on how they're installed, you may need a special plastic wrench tool to do so. I mounted my system on a flat area over my patio to reduce the wind loading on my sloped roof and also to facilitate removal in the event of a hurricane.

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Posted : June 6, 2012 12:42 am
vicanuck
(@vicanuck)
Expert

Damn...I own an acre or so of vacant land next to my house. I bet I could produce plenty of electricity if I laid a grid of panels out.

Hmmmm.

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Posted : June 6, 2012 11:49 am
Jamison
(@Jamison)
Trusted Member

I would like to see a system that was ran like a generator. A stand alone unit I guess. I know they make little ones for camping, but I'm a renter and if could put 2 panels up out back, feed it into a battery and have it strong enough to power my life, I'd be happy. Downside of renting.

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Posted : June 6, 2012 2:55 pm
IslandHops
(@IslandHops)
Trusted Member

I hope all you net-metering folks are ready to pay WAPA 5 cents for every KW you generate....

http://www.legvi.org/vilegsearch/ShowPDF.aspx?num=29-0315&type=Bill

What a great way to encourage use of alternative energy.

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Posted : June 6, 2012 4:06 pm
Bruno
(@Bruno)
Advanced Member

I have well over 3000 Enphase units out in the field without one failure to date. This July is 30yrs of biz for me. Did solar when is was not cool. Now I'm a hero. Been using Enphase for two years now. Enphase for residential and small commercial is great IMHO. We have many systems pumping out alot of power using these micros. Support is excellent at all levels. That being said, many new installers use them as they believe it is all just plug-n-play solar. That does not make one a solar expert. Putting in a 10 panel system that fast (6hrs) makes me worry. Did they have 5 people working? I don't want to bust on the "New solar company on the Island," but, they are in the tire business. Everyone wants to jump in this opportunity and make some fast bucks. I install by myself, my electrician does the last WAPA connections. It takes me 3-5 full days to do a professional install that won't leak, won't have wires come free in the passing of time and will make the electrical inspector happy. I don't make guarantees that if a 150mph storm comes, your panels will survive. Those statements are for dreamers. We all, or most have been here with cat 1-5 storms. If the panels don't blow away, then debris can get them. I mount my systems for what is said to be greater then 150mph wind loads, but that is all subjective too many things. Also, if panels are taken down pre-storm, then re-grounding the panels/ mirco's upon remounting has to be done, and correctly. Many of the newer companies don't even know the permitting processes for DPNR/WAPA. Always ask for references, and ask lots of questions. Remember, this is a electric generation plant mounted to a roof or ground mount. Don't skimp on a few cents per watt for lack of experiance. It will cost much more than that in the end.

As for the fine amounts? Don't know, never been fined. I know its real, and I would not push the system to find out.

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Posted : June 6, 2012 4:27 pm
Jeff Kruse
(@Jeff_Kruse)
Advanced Member

I hope all you net-metering folks are ready to pay WAPA 5 cents for every KW you generate....

http://www.legvi.org/vilegsearch/ShowPDF.aspx?num=29-0315&type=Bill

What a great way to encourage use of alternative energy.

Is that 5 cents for every KW Hour or 5 cents for every KW of capacity (every month?)? The bill does not specify KWH.

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Posted : June 6, 2012 4:54 pm
Lucy
 Lucy
(@Lucy)
Advanced Member

I hope all you net-metering folks are ready to pay WAPA 5 cents for every KW you generate....

http://www.legvi.org/vilegsearch/ShowPDF.aspx?num=29-0315&type=Bill

What a great way to encourage use of alternative energy.

Is that 5 cents for every KW Hour or 5 cents for every KW of capacity (every month?)? The bill does not specify KWH.

This appears to be for larger commercial and public (schools, etc.) systems ... not residential.

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Posted : June 6, 2012 5:14 pm
IslandHops
(@IslandHops)
Trusted Member

If you bother to read the appropriate section of the VI code, the proposed law applies to all "customer-generators" - not just large producers.

The proposed amendment is not specific in reference to capacity nor KWH, but my assumption would be, given the amount of 5 cents, that it will apply to each KWH you generate. So due to the generous nature of our 29th legislature, WAPA may be able to charge you 5 cents per KWH for generating your own power if you elect net-metering. Don't forget to calculate that "fee" into your potential ROI!

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Posted : June 6, 2012 6:29 pm
gonetropo
(@gonetropo)
Advanced Member

IslandHops

Yes, there was an amendment proposed by one of our genious senators....what makes them think?

The proposed amendment contains the phrase 'Be it enacted by the Legislature 1 of the Virgin Islands'.

So, does anyone know if it has indeed been inacted and how do you suppose they are going to be able to determine the amount of net metering when they don't use digital net metering meters?

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Topic starter Posted : June 7, 2012 11:29 am
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