Category Archives: Renewables and Energy

San Diego – Time of use rates for solar give batteries a boost

What ‘time of use’ means

At the beginning of this month, San Diego Gas & Electric instituted new TOU rates.

Approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, TOU pricing fluctuates to encourage customers to run appliances and devices that consume a lot of energy — such as air conditioners and washer/dryers — when demands on the power grid are not as high.

For example, SDG&E offers residential solar customers a couple of TOU options, dividing the hours of the day into peak, off-peak and “super” off-peak time frames

Here’s the breakdown on weekdays:

  • On-peak: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Off-peak: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight
  • Super Off-peak: Midnight to 6 a.m.

And here’s the pricing that SDG&E offers households with a solar energy system during the summer months (June through October) when the grid often gets stressed from things like higher air conditioning usage:

  • On-peak: 54.2 cents per kilowatt hour
  • Off-peak: 27.9 cents per kilowatt hour
  • Super Off-peak: 21.9 cents per kilowatt hour

The price differential during winter months (November through May) is much less dramatic — just two cents per kilowatt hour separating On-peak and Super Off-peak.

But clearly, during the summer months, there’s a big financial incentive for customers to use power during off-peak and super off-peak hours.

What it means for solar customers

And that has an effect on the approximately 120,000 SDG&E customers with rooftop solar systems that produce electricity during the course of the day.

“In this new world order, when you use energy is as important as how much energy you use,” said Daniel Sullivan, CEO of Sullivan Solar Power.

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Aussies have a suggestion to get more from your solar panels when you’re actually at home – Split Style Installation

Solar panels alone won’t make the biggest impact in driving down power bills.

Other ways to drive down costs even further is through smarter panel alignment, which can boost hours of sun exposure, and installing battery storage.

Solar energy company Shinehub’s co-founder and solar consultant Alex Georgiou said historically solar rooftop panels in Australia have been installed as a single, north-facing unit, to make use of the midday sun, but fail to provide solar energy when users are at home later in the day.

Solar engineer Jin Kim says a split-style installation is needed to increase efficiency and panel usage.

“North-facing panels will pump plenty of energy back into the grid, but the vast majority of households panels need to be facing in other directions, like east and west, in order to generate power at the times you’re actually at home and using it,” Kim says.

Georgiou claims that users of this split-style installation were running power bills as low as $10 per month during winter.

Peters says this simple panel alignment change nearly halved his costs.

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SDG&E and city-run alternative compete to provide 100 percent green power in San Diego

The government-run alternative to San Diego Gas & Electric, known as community choice aggregation, is getting some competition from the investor-owned utility.

To reach its goal of using 100 percent green energy by 2035, the city of San Diego has been looking at establishing a community choice program for more than a year.

Now Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office has said it will also study a plan submitted by SDG&E for going all green within the next two decades.

“We’re excited to transition San Diego to 100 percent renewable energy, and research done this year identified two programs that could help us get there,” said city spokesman Greg Block.

Under community choice, SDG&E would continue to operate the electrical grid and charge for deliver power, but elected officials would assume control of the buying and selling of that electricity from power plants to city customers.

Ratepayers can opt out of the government-run program if they prefer the utility’s rates, potentially creating competition between the two entities.

The utility’s counter proposal to community choice is expected to be released to the public in the next two weeks.

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