Why is solar not bigger on the VI?
Given the high kWh charges and reported unreliabilty of the electricity coming off the grid, how come mroe folks aren't giving solar a try? Is it because of the likelyhood of damage during storms?
I think it may have to do with the cost of the equipment...I mean, sure, it pays for itself over time, but many of us here don't have the funds available to buy and install solar for our homes.
The panels are darn expensive here because of freight charges. Further, there are concerns about damage from hurricanes and also theft when the owners are off-island for a while.
Another reason is that up until about six months ago WAPA did not buy energy back. This is something that utility companies in the states do that make solar more cost effective. Since WAPA didn't do that until recently and the cost of putting in solar is SO high it didn't make sense. There are solar hot water heaters. I had one installed by Home Depot but it broke and Home Depot has no one who can repair it so there goes that idea. Now I have a solar hot water heater on my roof and am unable to use it.
Combination of lack of rebates and no net metering till recently. The rebates that exist are minimal, and come from the VI govt. In the states, my rebate would be from my utility co, and be alot of money. Now WAPA has finally agreed to approve/allow net metering but their contract has alot of drawbacks and I don't know anyone who has agreed to sign it yet---it's a real dilemma for us, as we would like to put pv panels up.
Many residents are transient & only stay a few years. They're not going to sink a bundle in something like solar when they plan on leaving. Condo Associations can be tricky about what they'll allow. Before we had concrete roofs installed after Hurricane Marilyn some owners had solar water heating with the unit on the roof. The storm took the roof & and the water heater. After that the Association won't allow anything drilled into the roof including solar water heaters & any type of antennae or satellite dishes.
Anybody know what WAPA is currently charging per kWh?
Stateside, the federal government is offering homeowners a 30% tax credit up to $2k on solar installations. You know, they don't have to go on roofs if you have any yard at all. Condo's could even have a collective grid feeding multiple units. I'm sensing a business opportunity.
And if the math works out right, who cares if WAPA buys back the power. You can get off the grid entirely with batteries and power inverters. (Battery technology has come a very long way in recent years!)
If the math works out??? Obviously you have little idea what is involved, and no idea what goes on in the VI, if you don't even know the cost of our power. And how much impact is a $2000 rebate going to have (PS--expires Dec 31 2007 unless it was extended in the energy bill just passed) against the cost of a PV system that will power a house? Stateside, costs run between 8 and 10 dollars a watt--that's $10,000 a KW--and a decent-sized house might need at least 5KW to even think about being self sufficient--might need 7 or 8KW, so $50,000, $60,000 or more, and that does not include the cost of the batteries--which will be in the thousands, and they have a finite lifetime and then need to be replaced--now, multiply that by the shipping and customs etc if you buy components not made in the US--labor costs in the VI, etc, and you find yourself paying close to $20 a watt-- how many folks are going to spend 50,000 or more upfront to power their house? Then, decide what you will do with your PV panels if there is a storm coming....they are glass you know...
sorry, but sometimes I really get tired of stateside saviors coming to help all us see the error in our ways without even bothering to learn the basics first...
I hate to interrupt a good rant, but:
"Nanosolar, a privately held solar energy company whose backers include Google Inc's co-founders, on Tuesday said it has started to sell what it calls "the world's lowest cost solar panel."
Nanosolar's technique allows it to make panels profitably for less than $1 per watt, it says."
These are "thin-film technology" solar cells.
Unfortunately, Nanosolar's 1st year of production is already spoken for but this is just the beginning of what will be world changing technology.
Go take a valium or see a shrink or something...you've got a bit of a rage problem.
Hello, very good points for both sides, just a side note, I have lived on Puerto Rico this last year and solar water heaters are big! They are permanently mounted to with stand hurricanes, Plexiglas, not glass, I went to a trade show and found complete units very reasonable. As a general contractor I have repaired many a unit because people buy from chains such as Home Depot, which pay their technicians $5.00 and hour and let me say this without argument, you get what you pay for! A 5.00 crappy job.
It is good to see people thinking of change, that ,I'm mad and not going to take it any more attitude is fine by me, only if enough people get mad and say enough! can change be brought about.
I will be moving to STT by Jan 1st and I have already come to terms with WAPAs monopoly. What do I intend to due personally? Use as little electricity as possible, be as absolute energy conscience as humanly possible, give them as little of my money as i have to.
Oh and keep energy in mind when it comes time to vote!
Peace and Prosperity for all in 2008!
Have to agree with Beachy. It is frustrating to have people tell us how we can improve our lives who don't live in the VI. I call it the missionary syndrome - folks who want to come help the poor, ignorant natives. Many have good ideas and good intentions. But get here and live here for a while before you start to advocate specific changes.
Amen, Linda & Beachy! Do you actually think we LIKE paying the outrageous WAPA bills? I'm sure most of us who do pay the extortionate rates know very well how to conserve as much as possible - much more than Statesiders who turn on the A/C once it gets to 70° outside.
"Condo's could even have a collective grid feeding multiple units. I'm sensing a business opportunity. "
I won't hold my breath. Try dealing with a few Condo Associations down here. Why isn't everyone in the States using this if it's so advanced & wonderful? When it does come down in price there I'm sure it will be more popular on the mainland but until then, be assured it will cost a LOT more down here so as to make it not feasible for most people. Those I know with buckets of money grumble about WAPA but certainly aren't redoing their houses with Solar. I have a hard enough time preparing my place for a hurricane. I can't imagine how much more involved taking down solar panels, etc. One who is into energy saving is Doug White, the architect.
In answer to your question, it is costly!
We are starting out small, we have 12 vt in our shack, and both villas using simple batteries, a couple of boat cabin lights and also have an inverter that we hooked up to the computer as to not worry about WAPA going out!
You can always add as time goes on!
We are investing in Solar water heaters for all 3 places and also investing in Solar water pool heaters for the villa pools! From what we know, your hot water heater consumption is approx. 40% of your power bill! There are other alternatives as well! You can also get a on demand tankless hot water heater which is energy efficiant, tho you are still dependant on WAPA.
W went to a store that sells the equipment (can't think of the name at the moment) and he says that the rebate is not in effect right now so we are waiting for that to be in effect. He siad the rebate was $700 on a $2500 unit.
In all honesty, since the new price hike, I don't know exactly what we are paying per Kilawat hour! Will find out when the new bill comes in!
It certainly does help to be knowledable in the area and to beable to do it yourself!
At the moment we have 18 Solar panels, none of which are in use at this time, but peace of mindto know we can
can throw out 6 panels and make ice cubes!
Right now, we don't have enough battery storage for them. We used to, but the batteries are 20 yrs old, so we have
to reinvest. The batteries were: 4 250 amp hour nickel cadium batteries.
We also have a 19 cubic ft. Sun Frost Solar fridge which was used after Hurricane Marilyn. We also used 6 solar panels, (2 sets of 12 vt trilam solar panels) pv direct to our well pump.
The Hella fan is incredible! It uses 1/4 amp on high and 1/6 on low. German made. This is above our bed now with a 12 volt cabin light!
Just the other day, WAPA was out. We retired to our bedroom, turned on the fan and 12 vt cabin light and were reading magazines. Noticed the power came back on, but coninued reading....Then we decided to watch a little TV, went to turn it on and discovered WAPA had gone off again! WE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT!!!! Made us both laugh!!!!! 🙂
lol speaking of missionaries, anyone remember how beal aerospace was going to save us all from ruin and golden, he's finally on his way out the door, these islands can't even keep a decent recycle program going.
We at Point Pleasant are involved in an alternative energy study with Syracuse University. We're exploring both solar and wind generating systems. We are looking to employ both types of systems in an effort to become energy self sufficient.
And of course energy conservation is a must.....low wattage light bulbs, efficient air conditioners with timers, etc.
This is a result of a well run Owner's Association by a good Board of Directors.
"Why isn't everyone in the States using this if it's so advanced & wonderful?"
Well...for one thing, I pay 7.5 cents per kWh for all the electricity I can consume and it's 99.99% reliable. Even at that cheap price, $1 a watt has a payoff under 7 years (panels have 25 year warranty). At 30 cents a kWh a system could pay for itself in less than 2 years. (maybe a little longer, depends on mounting configuration and other installation costs).
The shipping thing is a total red herring. If I were going in to the business, I'd buy in bulk and ship panels by the ton. I'll be in STX late Jan to do some recon....
Future Islander, Pt. Pleasant is a massive complex compared to the one I live in. Your condo fees are also massive compared to mine. Solar has been around a long, long time so good luck to those who want to start a business in it down here but it's best to find out the cost of doing business first.
Is it syndrome, or position? LOL
"Solar has been around a long, long time"
Thanks for bringing me back to my original intended point Trade.
Just as a 200 mb hard drive cost $225 in 1994 and a 500 gb hard drive can be bought for $100 today (1/5000 of the 1994 price per mb), Solar Panel technology is changing rapidly. I predict we'll be measuring the cost of solar panels in watts per penny within 10 years. It's a brave new world!
Uh-huh but not necessarily down here - at least until long after everyone else.
I think you misunderstood me.....the Owner's Association is looking into alternative energy sources for the whole complex, not just me.
I'm not going into business here.
I live in Puerto Rico. I considered installing a Solar Hot water system. It would have cost around 2K. The system could last 10+ years but will wear out and need replacing.
The water temp going into the house is probably 78 degrees. I don't take very hot or very long showers but my wife does so things average out. We got an instant on Gas LPG water heater. It only cost $200. Even if the price of LPG tripled we will still save money. We just don't use that much gas.
On the environmental front, it took a lot of energy to make that big heavy hot water panel (x2) and storage tank along with all the extra piping. The system I bought is very small and not very heavy. Even though I'll be using little bits of non-renewable energy all the time I don't think it will add up to the amount it took to create those massive panels, tank, and pipes.
I didn't misunderstand you, Future Islander. To go into that would require a large assessment & for a small complex it would be very high per unit. Not easy to collect especially when none of our units is rented to tourists.
Also, having a unit that has been in the process of being auctioned off due to a now dead owner who quit paying utilities/dues/insurance for a few years before he croaked while renting it out doesn't help because that burden has been laid onto the rest of us. It's been in the foreclosure-auction process for at least 2 & maybe 3 years now. I sure wouldn't vote to lay out several thousand dollars for solar when I'll only be here 2 or 3 more years. And I'm not thrilled with roof solar panels either. We went through hell after Marilyn & I don't want anything attached to our roofs. I'm not saying they don't work, they do. But disassembling this stuff when a storm comes is not anything I care to tackle & neither does anyone else who lives here. We're just thrilled we have a massive generator that turns on within 5 seconds of an outage & stays on until WAPA levels out. It's in a concrete bunker so we laid out a lot for that & it was worth every penny.
And before you talk about an inefficient board which I certainly agree DOES exist on STT, none of that was our board's fault - it's our slow-moving government system which still hasn't had the auction even though our attorney (more big bucks) worked hard to get it done. That attorney is now a judge (Mike Dunston). So comparing Pt. Pleasant to where I live is apples & oranges. Hope it works for you but it won't for where I live until the price becomes VERY cheap. It's not going to be inexpensive for a very long time because it's not that popular in the States. In a little market like here the prices will be high for the rest of my lifetime.
I have to agree with Linda J. Things don't always make sense here. One of my pieces of advice to newcomers is to keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut. "Settling in" takes a period of time. This is when you figure out just HOW different things are, and if you can stand it. As to why things are the way they are- sometimes there is no why...