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  • derrallg
    started a topic Choosing solar in the SF Bay Area.

    Choosing solar in the SF Bay Area.

    Hi Everyone,

    I live in the Bay Area in a house with no shade issues and a roof that will need different panel placements without all being on the south. I love the amount of information and expertise I'm taping into so far here. I've been collecting bids and so far I've got information, but I'm not seeing anything pre-tax rebate below $3.50 per watt. I've been using the solar-estimate website as well as a post on here for the San Jose company Green Power. Here's what I have so far. I'm also trying to take care of my sub-panel at this point to with Federal Pacific breakers as I'm understanding that this type of upgrade will still fall under the federal tax rebate. It's interesting that some companies give all the information up front and some seem to be more vague. Any thoughts or things I'm not doing right. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Derrall

    Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 10.06.53 PM.png


  • sensij
    replied
    Originally posted by JRqwertyui View Post
    When does a system get listed in the CSI database ? is there an Opt out ? will I know when my newly installed system gets listed ? does it occur when I get authorized to operate ? also, when they list the $/w, do they use the total contract price ? or does someone break out the panel and inverter cost from other equipment that was purchased ?
    Once you file your interconnect application, you will start to show up in the CSI lists. No way to opt out, but it doesn't update too fast... last update was June 30. The $/W is based on whatever system cost was entered on the interconnect application, they do anything to verify it if there are no incentives involved.

    Leave a comment:


  • JRqwertyui
    replied
    When does a system get listed in the CSI database ? is there an Opt out ? will I know when my newly installed system gets listed ? does it occur when I get authorized to operate ? also, when they list the $/w, do they use the total contract price ? or does someone break out the panel and inverter cost from other equipment that was purchased ?
    Last edited by JRqwertyui; 09-10-2017, 10:12 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • derrallg
    replied
    Originally posted by Afrmthabay View Post

    Hi,

    Who did you end up going with I am buying a similar system curious on how the performance is for you if you got it installed already
    I ended up going with Green Power Installers. A few weeks ago there were some good deals on the LG panels available.

    I'm awaiting the PG&E inspection on 9/14, and I haven't connected with the monitoring software yet to see how much it's outputting.

    Leave a comment:


  • J.P.M.
    replied
    Originally posted by cebury View Post
    As usual i agree with you for the most part and you are always full of it. Good info i mean.
    Whether or not that was meant for me, a suggestion meant in the friendliest way possible: Question everything everyone says, even and maybe especially me. None of us is as smart as all of us, and, being retired, no one is checking my work nor I theirs as in a professional engineering environment.

    Leave a comment:


  • Afrmthabay
    replied
    Originally posted by derrallg View Post
    Thank you for your valuable information. I'm certainly taking it to heart and need to step up my evaluations compared to other home upgrades.



    Thanks again for the warm welcome and making me feel a part of this community!
    Hi,

    Who did you end up going with I am buying a similar system curious on how the performance is for you if you got it installed already

    Leave a comment:


  • cebury
    replied
    As usual i agree with you for the most part and you are always full of it. Good info i mean.

    Leave a comment:


  • J.P.M.
    replied
    Originally posted by cebury View Post
    I still say you cant trust those cost numbers. First, there are big differences between the bay area rates and rural areas, so quote seekers shoild knly run local queries. But mostly, you dont know what the number represents. My vendor threw in the entire contract amount which included roof, some extra electrical, MSP upgrade, etc. When i tried to use the db to get similar pricing that was listed in the database, it was a nonstarter. They werent even in the ballpark. They were like crazy $2watt listed in db, but quoted at highest near $4/watt. A sales guy later hinted it was likely the bosses and inside company family installs that were listed, which made sense. Maybe theyve changed the data entry guidelines since 2 years ago, though.

    It was extremely useful to help me see exactly how experienced a company was, such as # installs, turnaround, familiar with my requested technology, etc.
    FWIW, I think I may have been the one who turned you on to the CSI database, but I'd not swear to it.

    I too was skeptical of the numbers as reported in the CSI database until I compared it to known jobs. But, I've got access to well over 100 jobs in my HOA and seen and reviewed every one of those contracts. All of them, for reasons I don't need to understand, agreed with that the CSI price data as well,as every other piece of data in the database for the jobs I am familiar with.

    As for price variation, it exists in spades from what I've seen and I expected what I saw. Take this for what it's worth: You get what you negotiate, not what you deserve.

    Examples:

    3 neighbors in a row, me and the folks on either side of me. 3 Sunpower systems, 3.27 kW, 5.232 kW, and 11.04 kW. all installed within ~ 6 months of one another in 2014. Prices/Watt were $5.50, $4.50 and $5.10/Watt respectively. One other 3.924 kW S.P. job down the street went for $7.44, but that was in 2013. The $5.50 and the $5.10/Watt on either side of me were the same vendor. SolarWorld jobs in the HOA varied from $3.93 to $6.67/Watt. Kyocera, $3.77 to $5.10/Watt. LG, $3.42 to $5.36/Watt. You get the picture.

    Lease prices ( about 50 % of the jobs were either lease or PPA's) also show the same type of variation. The average monthly payment for all leases in my HOA per STC Watt per month was $0.02463/month per STC Watt. Interestingly, the minimum was $0.01962/month per STC Watt; the max. was $0.03142/month and the std. dev. of the population was $0.00268. So, prices were also all over the board. More FWIW: Solar City's lease price was about average, but every one of their jobs had 3% escalation in it. Perhaps interestingly, Baker's leases were for Sunpower equipment, except for 2 jobs that used REC panels, were all a few % less than Solar City/s per Watt per month price and had no escalation.

    Most of the time I asked residents if they negotiated a monthly rate. All I mostly got back in response was dumb looks.

    The average PPA price was ~ $0.165/kWh, but for some reason there have been no PPA's for ~ 2 yrs. or so. Go figure.

    All jobs were on concrete tile or mission tile roofs except for 2 ground mounts.

    Based on the above, I believe the CSI database is reliable when used with some judgment, and that price variations seen are mostly due to some job/site specific variation, but mostly due to customer's ignorance of what they're doing and buying, coupled with their inability to negotiate or knowledge of negotiation. Basically, if the price is high it's because vendors are feeding off people's ignorance of what they are buying and why, at least with respect to jobs I'm familiar with and the neighbors who buy them.

    Second, quote seekers using the database can indeed run local inquiries, at least down to zip code - done it many times. Sorts by any and all columns are possible - done that too. About the only thing not in the database is the name and street address of the user/owner. But you're right - family/company, DIY installs and the like require some common sense and discrimination, as do additional work outside of usual scope.

    In sum, if you or anyone else is looking for information and has the ability to parse the data, using the database will provide information you will not get anywhere else, much less in such an easy to use format, especially for the amount of data available. I had the lowest $/Watt Sunpower install except for $2.69/Watt for a S.P. Vendor installing on their own shop - that was a long way from $4.50/Watt (see reservation # SD-CSI-17646). Part of how I got that price is from information gleaned from the database. The lowest price in the database for a Sunpower system before mine was $4.58/STC Watt. I think mine is still the lowest S.P. price in there, but I haven't looked lately.

    One last point: Given my experience with the accuracy of the database does give me some pause at times when posters from one of CA 's big 3 I.O.U. service areas says they got a great price that I can't find by combing the database. Kind of makes me wonder if some of us a being less than totally honest. I sort of gave up looking or wondering.

    Leave a comment:


  • cebury
    replied
    I still say you cant trust those cost numbers. First, there are big differences between the bay area rates and rural areas, so quote seekers shoild knly run local queries. But mostly, you dont know what the number represents. My vendor threw in the entire contract amount which included roof, some extra electrical, MSP upgrade, etc. When i tried to use the db to get similar pricing that was listed in the database, it was a nonstarter. They werent even in the ballpark. They were like crazy $2watt listed in db, but quoted at highest near $4/watt. A sales guy later hinted it was likely the bosses and inside company family installs that were listed, which made sense. Maybe theyve changed the data entry guidelines since 2 years ago, though.

    It was extremely useful to help me see exactly how experienced a company was, such as # installs, turnaround, familiar with my requested technology, etc.
    Last edited by cebury; 07-14-2017, 10:28 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • sensij
    replied
    It might go without saying, but make sure you filter out the obviously bad data, and use the DC rating, not AC. I've found that parsing the column with the module model to get the power and multiplying but the panel count works reasonably well.

    Leave a comment:


  • derrallg
    replied
    Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

    There no PM feature on this forum.

    Try the CSI data base. Look for the "NEM interconnection applications data set". It's only current through 04/30/2017, but has a lot of stuff you may find interesting. Be warned that here is a treasure trove of info in there, but it's not for the faint of heart. Note that a lot of people overpay. My guess is there would be a lot fewer such folks if they new about this database. There's lots of interesting tidbits in there.
    Yes, there is some interesting information here. If I understand this correctly, for residential average system cost in 2017 for a less than 10kW system in CA it was $4.67 per watt. Changing the data view to PG&E didn't make a difference for this statistic.
    Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 5.56.26 PM.png


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  • derrallg
    replied
    Originally posted by JRqwertyui View Post
    derrallg want to compare notes ? we're getting bids from the same vendors... I couldn't find a way to send private messages. I posted to your Google + account... I hope I'm not infringing TermsOfUse by asking for a side conversation with another board member,
    I sent you a DM on Twitter with my email.

    Leave a comment:


  • derrallg
    replied
    Originally posted by cebury View Post

    Yeah targeting 90% of annual usage is lkely too high a target for someone who doesnt use a lot during working hours, like running the AC from noon to 6. I assume you dont in sf. OTH if there is any chance you will be increasing usage signifiantly down the road, the next few years are the time to help payoff the system, so Id weigh future proof sizing vs. chance of you moving. PGE has already stated (subject to worsening) what their tou will be the immediate future, how they are changing the peak windows and shrinking the summer period down to 4 months. I would bet money the best case scenario, absolute best, is the future will only hold solar PV payoff periods near what they are today. What wont change however is doing those cost effective energy efficiency upgrades for your area.
    It's true, we don't use a lot during working hours. We live about 27 miles from SF, but we get the cooling effect of being close to the bay and don't need AC. When I looked at our times of heaviest usage it was during meal times. My wife sets the dishwasher and washer on time delays for the late evening and my car is charging late in the evening to be ready by 6 AM. I switched out all our lights to CFLs when we moved and am swapping out LEDs as they die. I can't imagine needing to plan for much increasing usage in the future.

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  • derrallg
    replied
    Originally posted by solardreamer View Post
    I suggest you also consider your PG&E rate plan in sizing your system. If you are on a TOU plan then I think targeting 90% of usage could lead to a lot of wasted NEM credit at true up. I used Green Power and I think they are good. If you want, you can ask them to give quotes for your preferred panel and inverter brands. I would stay away from Petersen Dean. I am not familiar with the other installers you listed.
    I'm meeting with Green Power on Monday for a more detailed quote. Since we are on the TOU plan we try and use our appliances off peak and my Chevy Volt is set to begin charging so that it finishes at 6 AM. I'll look more in depth at the 90% target hadn't thought about being too high.

    Leave a comment:


  • J.P.M.
    replied
    Originally posted by JRqwertyui View Post
    derrallg want to compare notes ? we're getting bids from the same vendors... I couldn't find a way to send private messages. I posted to your Google + account... I hope I'm not infringing TOU by asking for a side conversation with another board member,
    There no PM feature on this forum.

    Try the CSI data base. Look for the "NEM interconnection applications data set". It's only current through 04/30/2017, but has a lot of stuff you may find interesting. Be warned that here is a treasure trove of info in there, but it's not for the faint of heart. Note that a lot of people overpay. My guess is there would be a lot fewer such folks if they new about this database. There's lots of interesting tidbits in there.

    Leave a comment:

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