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Thoughts on ConnectedSolutions offering in MA & RI for hybrid solar?

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  • Thoughts on ConnectedSolutions offering in MA & RI for hybrid solar?

    Curious what experts are thinking about the change in ROI this program is offering? Link is at the bottom for details. Short version, NGrid will pay approx $1,500/year in incentives for PV customers to install a battery solution that they can draw from during peak loads. At the surface, this would seem to solve many of the (long/negative) ROI topics about moving from net metering to hybrid.

    The number of power outages in my neighborhood is continuing to rise annually. Most of them are not load-related, but instead due to storms, trees on wires, construction-related outages, and so forth. But last year the total outage time was measured in days, with some of them lasting 3+ days straight. With multiple power plants going offline in the region, and Northern Pass defeated in the courts, I foresee this getting worse.

    I run a home office so having consistent power is important. I do have a full generator that I can roll out of the garage for long term outages, but it's loud, annoying to refill, and I try to be respectful of neighbors and don't run it outside of sensible hours. I've had a battery system in the back of my mind to deal with outages. I've got a 9KW solar array (SolarEdge 7600A inverter) today that is of course useless during outages.

    The pros are an accompaniment to SRECs that will shave significant time off the ROI, as well as having uninterrupted power + charging during storm/construction outages. The obvious con is that allowing the utility to tap my batteries during peak loads in summer would greatly increase the number of discharges, and likely negatively impact the life of any battery system. For reference, even on a peak load days when I've got computers & AC in use, I'm still net producing power for the grid on most days and typically wind my meter backwards about 300KWh per month in summer.

    I'm far from a battery expert, and I'd imagine that different battery vendors are going to have different results. From the program listing, it appears they'll accept just about any battery solution.

    https://www.nationalgridus.com/MA-Ho...BatteryProgram

  • #2
    Maybe something to check out, but if it was me, before biting on the $1,500 bait the POCO is dangling, I'd first sit back and think about how all that fits with my goals and needs. Then, I'd get into the economics and the less concrete but probably equally or more important things like what will happen if/how such a deal impacts your ability to run a business.

    If it was me, I'd keep the generator and keep an eye on how the $1,500/yr. incentive program is thought of by those who sign on for it. Waiting a year with my ear to the ground at a cost of $1,500 seems like cheap insurance.

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    • #3
      It's not a showstopper to have occasional/long term interruptions, as I'm getting by today. My genny is in great working order, but when an outage occurs during the day it's not always easy/possible to go outside and fire it up before the small UPS in the office run out. Or if I'm on a biz trip, not having everything in the fridge spoil would be a nice perk. So for me it's not entirely about the ROI of the payback in the program. I'm also not sure how long the program will last, so waiting a year may/may not be an option.

      My biggest concern is that without this program, if I went hybrid my batteries would be topped off at nearly all times except outages, and I'd likely have maybe 4-5 full discharge events per year. On this program, it states a maximum of 60 battery pull events per year, of which I'd imagine many would deplete the batteries fully (program is not specific). So long term longevity would be a factor if the battery solution I go with doesnt tolerate large numbers of full discharges.
      Last edited by Burningislove; 08-06-2019, 01:17 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Burningislove View Post
        It's not a showstopper to have occasional/long term interruptions, as I'm getting by today. My genny is in great working order, but when an outage occurs during the day it's not always easy/possible to go outside and fire it up before the small UPS in the office run out. Or if I'm on a biz trip, not having everything in the fridge spoil would be a nice perk. So for me it's not entirely about the ROI of the payback in the program. I'm also not sure how long the program will last, so waiting a year may/may not be an option.

        My biggest concern is that without this program, if I went hybrid my batteries would be topped off at nearly all times except outages, and I'd likely have maybe 4-5 full discharge events per year. On this program, it states a maximum of 60 battery pull events per year, of which I'd imagine many would deplete the batteries fully (program is not specific). So long term longevity would be a factor if the battery solution I go with doesnt tolerate large numbers of full discharges.
        Something to think about. Even a "big" solar/battery home system may not provide enough power to keep a frig running as long as you need it to save the food.

        Maybe look into an automatic home generator that will turn on when you lose the grid even if you are not home. I know that can get expensive but a couple of 6kWh batteries (which will not last very long) probably cost much more then the big gen set and fuel tank.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by SunEagle View Post

          Something to think about. Even a "big" solar/battery home system may not provide enough power to keep a frig running as long as you need it to save the food.

          Maybe look into an automatic home generator that will turn on when you lose the grid even if you are not home. I know that can get expensive but a couple of 6kWh batteries (which will not last very long) probably cost much more then the big gen set and fuel tank.
          That's a good perspective, thanks. I'm just trying to move away from having to deal with loud generators & manual filling of the tank. All the nearby gas stations lose power when I do, and if it's during a winter storm the open ones are sometimes inaccessible. If I had natural gas service on my street and could have a tankless solution for a NG fired genny, I would have jumped on that already. However, it's not available here nor are there any plans to add it (sigh).

          A 10-12Kwh battery would protect me from most 24 hour outages without manual action. And if the utility is willing to pay me for that deployment, that's where my brain is at. I can always pull out my 5500W genny for longer outages as needed if the batteries become depleted.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Burningislove View Post

            That's a good perspective, thanks. I'm just trying to move away from having to deal with loud generators & manual filling of the tank. All the nearby gas stations lose power when I do, and if it's during a winter storm the open ones are sometimes inaccessible. If I had natural gas service on my street and could have a tankless solution for a NG fired genny, I would have jumped on that already. However, it's not available here nor are there any plans to add it (sigh).

            A 10-12Kwh battery would protect me from most 24 hour outages without manual action. And if the utility is willing to pay me for that deployment, that's where my brain is at. I can always pull out my 5500W genny for longer outages as needed if the batteries become depleted.
            If that size battery works for you and the POCO helps pay for it then go for it. I burn over 40kWh a day so that battery would be dead long before I got home to start the gen set. Still I understand about not being able to have a NG tank but there are some "portable" gen sets that can be told to self start. Again just a thought.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by SunEagle View Post

              If that size battery works for you and the POCO helps pay for it then go for it. I burn over 40kWh a day so that battery would be dead long before I got home to start the gen set. Still I understand about not being able to have a NG tank but there are some "portable" gen sets that can be told to self start. Again just a thought.
              Right, but I've a 9kW array that would be recharging that battery during the day. When I'm running office in summer, running about the same as you (40kWh/day), and when on a business trip it more like 5-10kWh/day. My array produces 45kWh on average per day, so I'd be fine if not home with no need for genny.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Burningislove View Post

                Right, but I've a 9kW array that would be recharging that battery during the day. When I'm running office in summer, running about the same as you (40kWh/day), and when on a business trip it more like 5-10kWh/day. My array produces 45kWh on average per day, so I'd be fine if not home with no need for genny.
                Sounds ok but don't forget about the days that get no sunlight. For that matter just about all of the time I have a power outage I also have a storm going on. So that means no sunlight and no grid. Worse combination you can get.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by SunEagle View Post

                  Sounds ok but don't forget about the days that get no sunlight. For that matter just about all of the time I have a power outage I also have a storm going on. So that means no sunlight and no grid. Worse combination you can get.
                  Storms are usually intense but short lived here. So I might get snow/wind that knocks down utility lines.. But it sometimes takes days to restore grid power, and usually by the next day weather conditions are going to be party cloudy to full sun within 24 hours. Snow usually slides off my panels within hours of a storm due to roof pitch. In 4 years, I've had less than 10 zero solar output days

                  I'm never running AC or other high power devices during a storm, and I can conserve to make a 10kWh battery last a full day. By then, enough light to get some charge back into the battery. If it's full sun, I could fully charge the battery. If not, I can run generator during the day when convenient to charge up fridge/freezer, top off battery, etc.

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                  • #10
                    Back to my original question, given that far more full discharge events are likely to occur per year if I connect to this program, of the 5 battery vendors listed in the program, are there any I should specifically avoid? Or just for hybrid in general?

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