At the mere suggestion that the power company will reduce what it pays for your excess generation (no more "net metering"), this firm shuts down. That says quite a bit for all those glowing dollar figures the sales folks have been tossing about!
More importantly, the entire controversy ignores the latest twist to solar: micro inverters. With micro inverters, the generated power is converted to AC right at the solar panel, and is simply back-fed into your panel. No more "second meter," transfer switch, or permits needed.
Once again, technology and reality have completely out-maneuvered our bureaucracies and politicians. Is anyone surprised?
I think we need to utterly reject this idea that we can mandate "progress" by fiat.
Reno: You said...."More importantly, the entire controversy ignores the latest twist to solar: micro inverters. With micro inverters, the generated power is converted to AC right at the solar panel, and is simply back-fed into your panel. No more "second meter," transfer switch, or permits needed."
Not the case here. Solar (resi) is about an even split between MIs and 'regular' inverters. Yes, permits are required. Yes, NET meters are still required.
As to solar dying a slow death....I get about five (5) per week (Resi).
As far as I can tell, if you still buy more than you make, your regular meter works fine. The power you make stays at your house and the meter runs slower. You will not get paid for any excess power tho. That was the pitch anyway when they were selling me some. The deal fell through when I found out the Florida money was gone and I would not get the $4 a watt subsidy. Suddenly my system was not affordable. I still have the proposal on the fridge in case things turn around. Collectors are certainly getting cheaper.
I suppose it all depends on how they pay for the power you create. The way I understand it here is they will pay for power you return to the grid at wholesale, requiring a special meter but if you are just creating it and using it all yourself the meter just does not see that power at all. That was back in the analog meter days. If the rumor that putting it in upside down would make it go backward, it might have actually been crediting you at retail tho since net power would be going out. I could see why they might want to stop that. The new "smart" meter we have now may work differently. It may be able to track back flow separately right now. We do get some cool statistics tho. I used between 1.8mwh to 2.4mwh each month this year My hourly usage gets down around 1kwh in the middle of the night but by the time the sun is up, I am up over 3kwh. I doubt I will ever be able to afford a system that would offset my lowest spot usage.
Any attempt to regulate the use of micro-inverters is bound to be as successful as attempts to prevent home brewing have been.
Installing a micro-inverter is so easy, it can be done in minutes, by most anyone, without interrupting household supply. The only question is whether the meter will run backwards or not.
Separate meters? Simply not possible, when the micro-inverter ties directly to a breaker in the common panel. There is NO separate panel needed for them. The breaker is all the disconnect you need.
Permits? Might as well require them for replacing a light switch.
Impede the use of micro inverters, and you're taking away the biggest incentive to having solar at all. Until their advent, solar installations were a nightmare of major electrical work. With them, adding solar is as easy as adding a porch light.
Now, there might be a world where legions of agents slink around, peeking into yards and neighbors are expected to inform on each other .... ever notice that EVERY place that has tried that approach has collapsed, a complete social failure? In what universe is imitating failure a sensible solution?
Here is how it works for domestic users in UK. The panels and invertor must be installed by a registered installer in order to qualify for the so called "Feed in Tariff". This is a government subsidised payment administered by the normal energy supply companies. The output of the invertor is metered and is connected into the house panel via a standard MCB. This meter is read quarterly and passed to the energy supply company with which it is registered. (This does not have to be the same supplier as your normal supply, though I can see no advantage in having them different). The Feed in tariff is paid to the householder shortly after submitting the generation meter reading. It comprises two elements, a basic payment per unit generated plus an allowance for the amount uploaded to the grid. This latter amount is assumed to be 50% of what is generated. Obviously there is no way that either the consumer or supplier can know what this amount actually is. The normal supply meter is read and billed as normal. It cannot run backwards, being the modern electronic type, though not a smart type in my case, but just shows "ER" (for error) when power is being exported. The overall economics are quite attractive at present, though the FiT has been reduced as installation costs fall, and there are threats to make more drastic cuts soon. Existing contracts are locked in for 20 years from commissioning. My 3.5kW system cost about £4,500 and I estimate it is worth at least £700 per year to me in cash income plus savings on my supply bill.
Solar is booming here in Massachusetts. With the 30% federal income tax break, which was extended for another 5 years last week, and the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC's) coming in at $200-$300 per 1000-KWH produced, there is work all over the place. The average 5000watt system will produce about 6 SREC's per year and about $12000 over the allowed 10 year Mass SREC program. Payback on your investment is calculated at 4-7 years.
There aren't enough electricians here to do the work. Massachusetts requires a 1-1 ratio on licensed electrician to helpers. Installing panels and racking requires a license. Guys are starting at $30-$35 hour plus incentives. Some are pulling in 6 figures with overtime.
With battery storage on the horizon, solar will not sunset IMO. It will continue to get more affordable. Oil continued to get feed in tariffs even when it was highly profitable. Oil and Gas Power needs to be replaced by the Power of the Sun to save our planet.