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Marsden
Posts: 307
Joined: August 20th, 2001, 5:42 pm
Location: Maryland

Re: Going Solar - ROI and Payback periods

November 24th, 2022, 8:32 pm

How do you heat now?

My house is crap for solar: we have a brilliant surface for it ... facing north. Our south face's roof is broken up by dormers (those are basically extensions from a room through the general face of the roof, leading to a window to bring in light) and we have a couple big shady trees ... which I think at one time was the ecologically clever thing to do: have deciduous trees on your south side to block the sun in summer and let it through in winter.

And we have steam heat, which isn't generally compatible with a heat pump. At least we converted from burning oil to burning gas.
 
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DavidJN
Posts: 219
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

Re: Going Solar - ROI and Payback periods

November 25th, 2022, 1:45 am

A practical problem in transitioning to solar energy in Canada is higher property insurance costs. Is that problem evident elsewhere? Fortunately, the insurers here seem to have no similar prejudice against heat pumps. 
 
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Marsden
Posts: 307
Joined: August 20th, 2001, 5:42 pm
Location: Maryland

Re: Going Solar - ROI and Payback periods

November 25th, 2022, 2:11 pm

Is the notion that solar panels are more vulnerable to damage?
 
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DavidJN
Posts: 219
Joined: July 14th, 2002, 3:00 am

Re: Going Solar - ROI and Payback periods

November 25th, 2022, 2:45 pm

P&C insurance rates in Canada require approval by provincial regulators, something that has frankly always worried me. I don’t know how finely the rate approvals are cut, but I assume the companies have convinced the regulators there are either reliability and/or safety issues with DIY solar (the acronym DIY itself is probably the reason), or perhaps simply a lack of experience (feigned or otherwise) underwriting such business.  
 
Another impediment to green energy transition in Canada is that our regulated large-scale conventional power generators have reacted to the threat of DIY solar hollowing out their customer base by dramatically altering their billing practices and not in a helpful way. The typical electrical utility bill in Canada these days is increasingly comprised of regulator-approved fixed charges that are by definition not sensitive to electricity usage. So, if you hang on to your conventional utility service for either energy diversification purposes or any intent to sell your surplus solar back to the utility, you now face significant monthly fixed charges simply for the right to remain connected to the grid.
 
What to do with large-scale, regulated, guaranteed-return power utilities as their customer base erodes away will be quite a challenge. Rates will be rising for those poor unfortunates stranded with conventional utility electricity because they cannot afford the capital cost of a DIY solution. Government will surely end up directly subsidizing conventional utility operators as their customer base erodes – alas more guaranteed private profit funded by the suffering taxpayer.
 
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Marsden
Posts: 307
Joined: August 20th, 2001, 5:42 pm
Location: Maryland

Re: Going Solar - ROI and Payback periods

November 25th, 2022, 11:16 pm

Another impediment to green energy transition in Canada is that our regulated large-scale conventional power generators have reacted to the threat of DIY solar hollowing out their customer base by dramatically altering their billing practices and not in a helpful way. The typical electrical utility bill in Canada these days is increasingly comprised of regulator-approved fixed charges that are by definition not sensitive to electricity usage. So, if you hang on to your conventional utility service for either energy diversification purposes or any intent to sell your surplus solar back to the utility, you now face significant monthly fixed charges simply for the right to remain connected to the grid.
As I understand it, the traditional practice of electric utilities was just to figure a global mark-up to apply to all electricity sold in order to cover the cost of maintaining connections. This obviously breaks down when some customers go solar.

A lot of these sorts of issues could probably be addressed fairly effectively by pairing something like a demogrant with whatever policies you want to promote/discourage. It's generally good, for example, for people to go solar, but probably the ability to do that is skewed toward the well-to-do, regardless of how you structure incentives; just owning your home rather than renting is one confounding matter. Monopolistic and near-monopolistic utilities are already quasi-government -- why not just cover the cost of maintaining lines from general revenues?

But in America, at least, I don't recall ever seeing such a thing seriously proposed.