SDGE is increasing rate by another 11%. Anyone still sitting on the sideline regarding Solar?

Submitted by ocrenter on October 14, 2017 - 7:14am
Already got Solar
46% (13 votes)
Still paying monthly bills to SDGE
43% (12 votes)
Researching or waiting for installation of Solar
11% (3 votes)
Total votes: 28
Submitted by ocrenter on October 14, 2017 - 7:21am.

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/busi...

I got Solar in beginning of 2015. At the time based on my 2014 $1900 per year electric bill, my 5 kw system at $10,500 after fed rebate would have a 5.5 year ROI timeframe.

Using the current SDGE tariff rate, that 2014 usage would blowup to $2850. Assuming a 5 kw system is still at the same cost (likely less by now), the math for ROI would be 3.5 years.

I can't begin to imagine what the math would be like if the 11% increase is put into place in 2 years per the SDGE request.

Submitted by svelte on October 14, 2017 - 12:51pm.

Several reasons why some folks don't get solar.

They live in a condo where the outside is the responsibility of the association.

They live in an apartment.

They're getting ready to move.

They have one of those complex roofs that doesn't lend itself to panels.

No money.

Etc.

Submitted by SK in CV on October 15, 2017 - 7:29am.

I didn't vote, as I live in AZ where solar isn't cost effective because of politics. My $1,500 a year electricity bill could maybe be cut in half, and a 15 year payback isn't worth it.

But there are a couple of interesting points about solar that I've never seen discussed here.

First is, it's not that difficult to install yourself if you're handy and you're willing to put some time into learning how to do it. I'm not handy around the house, it's not something I'd ever consider trying. But I have a friend who is, and he installed his own on his home in Salt Lake City a few years ago.

I'm not sure exactly what installation prices are in CA right now, but I suspect they're somewhere in the $3.50 per KW range. He installed his for $1.00 per KW all in. He had one friend help him, installed it over a weekend, and the utility come out and inspect and flip the switch a few weeks later and his utility bills went down to zero. He learned how to do it by watching a couple dozen youtube videos. He just finished installing solar on a home he built in Austin. He is not, nor has he ever been a builder. He's a tech PM.

2nd item is solar economics. As I said (and think is close to right), solar costs about $3.50/W installed in CA. Price is similar in the NE. In AZ that cost is as low as $2.80, and I've seen bids as low as $2.60. As a result of very recent regulation changes, it still doesn't pencil out except for larger users (more than 8-9 KW systems). Solar is just about the only tangible property that I'm aware of that is always priced based on savings to the buyer, like an investment return, rather than the actual cost of the underlying products and services. And every vendor is part of this pricing model. Resellers of panels charge more where solar saves more. System resellers (the guy at Costco) charge more. Electricians who do the installation charge more. Very unusual pricing model.

Submitted by svelte on October 15, 2017 - 9:48am.

SK in CV wrote:

I'm not sure exactly what installation prices are in CA right now, but I suspect they're somewhere in the $3.50 per KW range. He installed his for $1.00 per KW all in.

Think you mean $3.50 per W, not KW.

Two years ago, I had mine installed for $3.20 per W before rebate, which equates to about $2.20 per W after rebate. This is in San Diego, and I would imagine prices have come down if anything, not went up.

For my system, just the panels alone would cost me $15K to purchase while the inverter would be $2K. So before we get into the wiring or any other materials, I would have been at $17K which is $1.60 per W.

Not sure if your friend used cheaper products or got them at a significant discount off of retail, but the prices above are the best I could find online.

I'm not versed in roof modifications, high voltage wiring, or interfacing with SDG&E so to me the labor cost of another $16.5K was worth it. I have a guarantee and I know what was done is safe and meets code.

Everybody's got different comfort zones - glad your friend found his.

Submitted by SK in CV on October 15, 2017 - 10:07am.

svelte wrote:
SK in CV wrote:

I'm not sure exactly what installation prices are in CA right now, but I suspect they're somewhere in the $3.50 per KW range. He installed his for $1.00 per KW all in.

Think you mean $3.50 per W, not KW.

Two years ago, I had mine installed for $3.20 per W before rebate, which equates to about $2.20 per W after rebate. This is in San Diego, and I would imagine prices have come down if anything, not went up.

For my system, just the panels alone would cost me $15K to purchase while the inverter would be $2K. So before we get into the wiring or any other materials, I would have been at $17K which is $1.60 per W.

Not sure if your friend used cheaper products or got them at a significant discount off of retail, but the prices above are the best I could find online.

I'm not versed in roof modifications, high voltage wiring, or interfacing with SDG&E so to me the labor cost of another $16.5K was worth it. I have a guarantee and I know what was done is safe and meets code.

Everybody's got different comfort zones - glad your friend found his.

Yes, I did mean per watt.

I suspect if SDG&E price increase goes through (maybe it's a done deal, I don't know), that prices will go up, not down. Because prices, across the country, are based on savings, not on the cost of the materials and installation. It's cheap in Florida, and still very rare. Politics make it hard to pencil out. Just the opposite of CA.

Even with your numbers, the $16,500 that went to the installer/reseller is a pretty big price to pay. That's what my friend saved by watching youtube video's and doing it himself. He actually drove to Denver from SLC to buy his panels, because they were significantly cheaper than he could find anywhere online. They were standard LG panels, identical to the panels the Sunrun guy at Costco sells.

Submitted by svelte on October 15, 2017 - 10:32am.

SK in CV wrote:

I suspect if SDG&E price increase goes through (maybe it's a done deal, I don't know), that prices will go up, not down. Because prices, across the country, are based on savings, not on the cost of the materials and installation. It's cheap in Florida, and still very rare. Politics make it hard to pencil out. Just the opposite of CA.

No matter the politics I would probably not get solar panels if I lived in FL because they have to deal with hurricane force winds. Similarly, panels will probably never been real popular in TX, OK because of tornados and regular bouts with hail. Here in the southwest, we tend to forget that extreme weather in other parts of the country can change the dynamics of what you can invest in long term.

SK in CV wrote:

Even with your numbers, the $16,500 that went to the installer/reseller is a pretty big price to pay. That's what my friend saved by watching youtube video's and doing it himself.

All in how you look at it I guess. Quite often labor runs me as much as parts on a lot of what I purchase. It took a team of four 2 full days to do the installation, and I didn't have to worry about the permit or anything. Just sign on the dotted line and that's it.

Looks like AZ rates are going up 4.5 percent this year, and they are going to Time of Use billing which could mean an even higher bill, considering the bulk of electricity demand in the desert will center around a/c.

I ran the figures out your way for your elec usage (I figure about 13K kw/hr per year based on your bill size) and $2.80 per w installed, and you're right - payback is 13 to 15 years for you. But as elec rates creep higher, that'll probably change. As of right now, probably only worth maybe considering if you plan on staying forever in your home.

Submitted by Escoguy on October 15, 2017 - 12:01pm.

All five systems I installed in North County San Diego give an annual return of 14%.
Three years in about 50% paid for.

Not that renting was hard, but having solar makes it faster.

Submitted by svelte on October 15, 2017 - 5:15pm.

I think when I bought mine I calculated break even at 6 to 7 years.

With all the rate changes of late, I'm sure I'm down to around 5 years or less.

Submitted by FlyerInHi on October 16, 2017 - 12:31pm.

SK in CV wrote:
I didn't vote, as I live in AZ where solar isn't cost effective because of politics. My $1,500 a year electricity bill could maybe be cut in half, and a 15 year payback isn't worth it.

But there are a couple of interesting points about solar that I've never seen discussed here.

First is, it's not that difficult to install yourself if you're handy and you're willing to put some time into learning how to do it. I'm not handy around the house, it's not something I'd ever consider trying. But I have a friend who is, and he installed his own on his home in Salt Lake City a few years ago.

I'm not sure exactly what installation prices are in CA right now, but I suspect they're somewhere in the $3.50 per KW range. He installed his for $1.00 per KW all in. He had one friend help him, installed it over a weekend, and the utility come out and inspect and flip the switch a few weeks later and his utility bills went down to zero. He learned how to do it by watching a couple dozen youtube videos. He just finished installing solar on a home he built in Austin. He is not, nor has he ever been a builder. He's a tech PM.

2nd item is solar economics. As I said (and think is close to right), solar costs about $3.50/W installed in CA. Price is similar in the NE. In AZ that cost is as low as $2.80, and I've seen bids as low as $2.60. As a result of very recent regulation changes, it still doesn't pencil out except for larger users (more than 8-9 KW systems). Solar is just about the only tangible property that I'm aware of that is always priced based on savings to the buyer, like an investment return, rather than the actual cost of the underlying products and services. And every vendor is part of this pricing model. Resellers of panels charge more where solar saves more. System resellers (the guy at Costco) charge more. Electricians who do the installation charge more. Very unusual pricing model.

I agree.

With big ticket consumer items it's all about the financing or cash flow of the buyer rather than the cost of the product.

I plan to learn and build my own off grid house once I find the land. My business plan is to rent out the house to earthy crunchy nature-tourists.

Submitted by ocrenter on October 18, 2017 - 4:41am.

Escoguy wrote:
All five systems I installed in North County San Diego give an annual return of 14%.
Three years in about 50% paid for.

Not that renting was hard, but having solar makes it faster.

Can you charge more rent by having solar?

Submitted by ocrenter on October 18, 2017 - 5:04am.

Net metering has made a huge difference for solar installation. And perhaps because of net metering, SDGE time-of-use peak rate has not budged despite rate increases across the board.

Ultimately, the combination of net metering and time-of-use really help make solar installation an amazing deal for anyone that can make the investment.

One interesting aside, check out commercial electric rate, unreal how cheap commercial rate is compared to residential! No wonder we don't see as many solar installation on commercial buildings compared to SFR.

Submitted by andymajumder on October 23, 2017 - 3:31pm.

I just got Solar installed, Sunpower top of line panels with 25 yr warranty on the panels, installation & inverter. A 5.5KW system would cover 100% of my current needs & it comes close to $2.25/W (after tax credit). You could get it installed for somewhat lower price if you chose other cheaper panels, including some pretty good ones like LGE. To me getting solar panels in SD seems like a no-brainer if your household consumes anything more than 500KwH/month. Based on the math I've done, I will recoup the cost of my system in 52 months at current rate (with the 30% tax credit of course). If SDGE rates go higher will recoup it even faster and my electricity costs are only about $15/month after that for a pretty decent sized home.

Submitted by svelte on October 23, 2017 - 9:09pm.

We just paid off our solar panels this week, and they cover our complete elect bill.

Free electricity for the rest of my life, feels pretty sweet to say!

Submitted by FlyerInHi on October 24, 2017 - 12:33am.

I am jealous. I live in a condo.

Submitted by Oni Koroshi on October 24, 2017 - 10:04am.

My energy bills are too low for solar to make financial sense. Hopefully the Tesla roof tiles mature and drop in price so by the time I finally need a new roof I can make the switch along with a powerwall.

Submitted by ucodegen on October 24, 2017 - 1:08pm.

SK in CV wrote:
I didn't vote, as I live in AZ where solar isn't cost effective because of politics. My $1,500 a year electricity bill could maybe be cut in half, and a 15 year payback isn't worth it.

'They' are also trying to make it difficult in Nevada.
http://fortune.com/2016/01/14/nevada-sol...

Some of it has been able to be rolled back but not for new installations,
http://fortune.com/2016/09/16/nevada-sol...

Another part of the problem is that some counties and states are trying to make living 'off-grid' illegal. ie. Palmdale - Palmdale, California.
https://offgridsurvival.com/livingoffthe...
http://www.laweekly.com/news/la-countys-...

Submitted by TeCKis300 on October 24, 2017 - 2:33pm.

I installed 5.28kw worth of solar back in early 2012. Along with the purchase of an electric car. The pairing has been the best investment ever. Ever!

Because it makes me eligible for a TOU (time of use) plan. Which means my electric production during the day, at peak rates, banks me electric credit that I use at night, at better than 2:1 ratio, to almost 3:1 in summertime.

This powers my 4000 sq ft McMansion with reasonable A/C use, along with ~15,000 miles/yr on the EV, for less than $300 settle up at the end of the yr.

Considering that my energy bills were ~$2750/yr electricity + $2400/yr gas, or $5150 annually. And that I purchased the system for less than $12k after credits.

Absolutely sitting pretty 5 years later, still reaping all the benefits.

Submitted by ocrenter on October 25, 2017 - 9:14pm.

TeCKis300 wrote:
I installed 5.28kw worth of solar back in early 2012. Along with the purchase of an electric car. The pairing has been the best investment ever. Ever!

Because it makes me eligible for a TOU (time of use) plan. Which means my electric production during the day, at peak rates, banks me electric credit that I use at night, at better than 2:1 ratio, to almost 3:1 in summertime.

This powers my 4000 sq ft McMansion with reasonable A/C use, along with ~15,000 miles/yr on the EV, for less than $300 settle up at the end of the yr.

Considering that my energy bills were ~$2750/yr electricity + $2400/yr gas, or $5150 annually. And that I purchased the system for less than $12k after credits.

Absolutely sitting pretty 5 years later, still reaping all the benefits.

Thumbs up!

Doing the same as well. I'm almost at 50k of electric driving in 3 years. Half from my TOU/solar, half from level I charging at work. At first I was feeling a little guilty charging at work, then I realized commercial rate is only 12 cents per kWh, even cheaper than TOU super off peak!

Submitted by montana on November 2, 2017 - 9:19pm.

I am a big fan of solar. Purchased my 4.5kWh system 3.5 years ago and will break even in about 9 months. 10 year projected IRR of 14%, one of my better investments by far.

The pricing model is a very interesting model for sure. I know a number of people in the sales, installation and financing arena of solar and they squeeze every nickel and dime they can out of every geographic area that is possible.

One of the areas that a consumer can save the most regardless of geography is by being a cash buyer. But first, you need to understand where the sales/installation company is making their money. Most installers end up selling a financial product in a driveway that doesn't belong to them. The financing party will usually pay between $0.80 to $0.90 to the installer, often referred to the dealer discount. The discount enables the financing party to offer the low 2.9%, 3.9%, 4.9% product offerings, as a result of the end investor requiring a rate of return higher than the coupon on the note (less costs to service or finance as well as defaults) and to cover all of their overhead. Get a bunch of bids with financing from installers. Then start inquiring with the management of the company to find out how many dealer points they are ultimately paying to the financing company. A smaller local shop is probably getting $0.80-$0.85, while a larger regional shop with more scale is probably getting $0.85-$0.90. If the shop you are going with is only getting $0.85, then negotiate with them as a cash buyer, if you are able to pay cash, and offer them something greater than $0.85. Installers love cash buyers because they can get full retail price, they also love certain financing partners that provide the lowest dealer points.