Friday, February 24, 2012

On the grid

I received an e-mail on 2/14 from PG&E confirming that they had received all the required paperwork from Real Goods. When I had talked to them a few weeks ago, they had said it would take from 10-30 business days from when they received the paperwork until they could come to the house and swap the meters.

I guess they were wrong. Yesterday, I happened to be working from home for an unrelated reason. The doorbell rang, and I was shocked that it was PG&E! They were here to install the meter. It took all of 30 minutes, about 2 minutes of which was time with the power to the house off. I was in the middle of a meeting while this happened, so I had to switch to our backup wired phone (yep, still have one of those in the house), and then it was done. When the meeting ended around 4:30, I was able to see the paperwork the tech had left. I now am switched to E-6 Time of Use net energy metering. When I went out to look at the shiny new meter, there was a couple of things that stood out.

First, it has a sticker on it that says "Meter runs both directions". That is what I have been waiting for. The second thing was a tag attached to the meter with a label that explicitly grants me permission from PG&E to turn on the solar panels and hook them to the grid. So, I reached up to the inverter box and turned the dial to ON. I was rewarded a few seconds later with a green light. Unfortunately, it was nearly 5pm by this time, so there wasn't much light left to generate power, but I am officially generating power.

I was hoping to be able to check how much power I was generating, but I am still waiting for the information from Real Goods on how to do this remotely. I will check the readout on the inverter box itself when I get home tonight, but in the near future, I should be able to do this from my computer.

So, if you had 2/23/12 as the day my solar would be working, you win the prize. Now to see how much power it generates, and what my savings are. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another delay

Since the county signed off on the permit, I thought the system was ready to start working. All that was left was for PG&E to swap out the meter on my house for one that could run backwards, and to connect the 2 systems. I was told that PG&E typically takes 3-4 weeks to do this. So, after waiting 2 weeks and hearing nothing from PG&E, I decided to give them a call to see when the connection would happen. That is when I got my next surprise. PG&E never received the request from the solar company to do the connection. Once they do, they have 30 business days to do the hook up, but their goal is 10 days.

So, my next phone call was to Real Goods Solar to find out what the hold up was in getting the paperwork to PG&E. I know all the paperwork PG&E required was ready, since the helpful agent at PG&E had pointed me to a list on their website, and I had received a packet from Real Goods that had my copies of all the documents. Apparently, the finance company that Real Goods used for my transaction hadn't signed off on it yet. I am not sure why this is a holdup, as PG&E doesn't require anything from the finance company to do the hookup. The agent at Real Goods said it was in process and should be taken care of this week. I sure hope so, since the system is doing nothing sitting on my roof not hooked up to the meter.

What upsets me the most is that once again there was no communication from them on an issue. The last contact I had from them was the day of the inspection, when the rep said all he had to do was go back to the office and send the paperwork in to PG&E, and then it was all in their hands to get it turned on. Obviously, that wasn't true. And two weeks later, i is still not true. If I had not called to find out when the next step would happen, I would not even be aware of the issue.

I guess we will see if the paper work gets to PG&E next week.