Community Solar

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RailBaronYarr
Capella Tower
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Joined: September 16th, 2012, 4:31 pm

Community Solar

Postby RailBaronYarr » July 15th, 2016, 9:59 am

David Greene wrote:Since we plan to go solar, I've had this crazy idea of designing the garage for maximum solar sq. ft., perhaps like a small saltbox. Anyone know of companies that do this sort of thing? Architects? I'm sure it'd be outrageously expensive but I'm still interested in researching the possibility.
This is kind of off-topic, but have you considered just subscribing to a community solar garden? None of the hassles of customizing roof lines for solar, finding the financing, dealing with tax credits or waiting for the MiM lottery, maintaining the panels, lowered productivity because shade is still a thing in residential areas, etc etc. Just sign up, get more efficient (better sun access) and solar energy for most of the day and production credits on your remaining bill with Xcel. Then you won't be put in an awkward position of opposing a rocket house proposed on the lot to your south, either :)

MNdible
is great.
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Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Future cars / Driverless cars

Postby MNdible » July 15th, 2016, 10:06 am

Let's spin this into a new thread.
RailBaronYarr wrote:This is kind of off-topic, but have you considered just subscribing to a community solar garden?
Does anybody have any experience with the new program? I've been considering it, but have heard that most of the projects are hung up in approvals with Xcel, and it's kind of tricky figuring out which operators are legit. On the surface it seems like a good deal, but I just feel like it's not quite ready for prime time. Would love to hear otherwise.

MNdible
is great.
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Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Community Solar

Postby MNdible » July 15th, 2016, 12:54 pm

[bump]

Thanks for spinning this off! So, anybody have anything to report on this?

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mister.shoes
Wells Fargo Center
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Joined: November 26th, 2012, 10:22 am

Re: Community Solar

Postby mister.shoes » July 15th, 2016, 1:00 pm

My parents signed up for SunShare just last week. I can share what I learn, when and if I learn anything.
The problem with being an introvert online is that no one knows you're just hanging out and listening.

LakeCharles
Foshay Tower
Posts: 847
Joined: January 16th, 2014, 8:34 am
Location: Kingfield

Re: Community Solar

Postby LakeCharles » July 15th, 2016, 1:02 pm

I signed up for SunShare. I have no idea if it was a good idea or not. But when/if I find out I'll let you all know.

mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
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Joined: June 19th, 2012, 2:04 pm
Location: NORI: NOrth of RIchfield

Re: Community Solar

Postby mattaudio » July 15th, 2016, 1:09 pm

The Sun Share people came to my door and keep mailing me stuff. I've seen other smarter people post concerns about their model on twitter etc, so I'm holding off.

RailBaronYarr
Capella Tower
Posts: 2702
Joined: September 16th, 2012, 4:31 pm

Re: Community Solar

Postby RailBaronYarr » July 15th, 2016, 1:11 pm

I also signed up with SunShare. From what I gather, they don't have the lowest rates, but also are the most experienced of current providers in Hennepin County so I'm willing to forego some savings for a bit lower risk. I work with a bunch of solar experts at the Dept of Commerce and everyone seems comfortable with most of the providers in the area.

I'll also report back with some information once the garden gets up and running.

MNdible
is great.
Posts: 5832
Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Community Solar

Postby MNdible » July 15th, 2016, 1:50 pm

mattaudio wrote:The Sun Share people came to my door and keep mailing me stuff. I've seen other smarter people post concerns about their model on twitter etc, so I'm holding off.
Matt, can you find a link to any of these?

structuralEIT
Block E
Posts: 9
Joined: September 21st, 2015, 3:54 am

Re: Community Solar

Postby structuralEIT » July 16th, 2016, 10:33 pm

David Greene wrote:Since we plan to go solar, I've had this crazy idea of designing the garage for maximum solar sq. ft., perhaps like a small saltbox. Anyone know of companies that do this sort of thing? Architects? I'm sure it'd be outrageously expensive but I'm still interested in researching the possibility.
If you're actually interested in this, there are companies that can probably facilitate it. AllEnergy Solar is one, but there are probably others that are similar. They work with structural engineering companies for the structural aspects. They seem to mainly put solar panels are pre-existing houses and garages, but AllEnergy specifically has done new free-standing roof structures for sure, if not actual garages.

Also, solar panels mounted flush on a roof don't require special structural engineering (at least for pre-existing buildings) because solar panels are very light. The structural issue is when are tilted up, wind can get underneath them and cause uplift. So if you built your garage with a mono-slope roof facing south with the right pitch, it wouldn't necessarily even need an engineer. Solar panels are still fairly expensive though, so you might still be better off going with a community solar garden from an economic standpoint.

Silophant
Moderator
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Joined: June 20th, 2012, 4:33 pm
Location: The Gateway

Re: Community Solar

Postby Silophant » July 17th, 2016, 12:57 pm

Yeah, unless you're planning a battery backup (and transfer switch!) to keep the lights on during sustained outages, or you're aiming for the conspicuous conservation effect, a CSG is probably the way to go. The economies of scale with current solar tech don't really start to kick in until you get to megawatt scale, and I'm not sure if your garage is going to be that large.

PhilmerPhil
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Re: Community Solar

Postby PhilmerPhil » July 17th, 2016, 7:41 pm

If I join a community solar garden, how will my neighbors know that I'm an environmentalist???

BoredAgain
Landmark Center
Posts: 267
Joined: July 3rd, 2014, 1:38 pm
Location: Lyndale Neighborhood

Re: Community Solar

Postby BoredAgain » July 18th, 2016, 11:17 am

PhilmerPhil wrote:If I join a community solar garden, how will my neighbors know that I'm an environmentalist???
You can always put up a yard sign.

David Greene
IDS Center
Posts: 4761
Joined: December 4th, 2012, 11:41 am

Re: Community Solar

Postby David Greene » July 18th, 2016, 11:28 am

So if I sign up for a CSG, does it actually expand the solar array? With WindSource XCel has to provide as much wind power as I use. Is that true for a CSG?

For me, this has absolutely nothing to do with visibility, though it is a nice perk in terms of getting other people interested in the technology to promote the primary goal. I simply want to expand our society's non-fossil-fuel options as much as possible.

Silophant
Moderator
Posts: 3896
Joined: June 20th, 2012, 4:33 pm
Location: The Gateway

Re: Community Solar

Postby Silophant » July 18th, 2016, 1:56 pm

So far, what's been happening with the CSGs is that each one is being built on spec up to the maximum capacity of the site (based on lot size, grid capacity, etc) and then subscriptions are sold.

You buy a subscription for x% of the garden's output, which is sold directly to you, with Xcel being the middleman for the actual energy delivery. You'll get a bill from the garden operator for the energy they supply to you, and a bill from Xcel for your base connection fee and however much energy you used over what your share of the garden produced. In the event that your share of the garden's production exceeds your usage, (in June, for example) your Xcel bill goes down to just your base connection fee, and you accumulate credits for months where that's not the case (like, say, December).

RailBaronYarr
Capella Tower
Posts: 2702
Joined: September 16th, 2012, 4:31 pm

Re: Community Solar

Postby RailBaronYarr » July 18th, 2016, 2:03 pm

Right. And to the question of if you'd be able to immediately join or not... 1) spots in CSGs aren't such hot commodities that the wait list is years and years, 2) even if it were, solar costs are coming down quickly enough (bonus point: labor rates for rooftop solar installers aren't dropping) and there are plenty of empty fields in Hennepin County that meeting this hypothetical demand isn't a huge deal, and 3) even if one waited for a year to join a CSG, that risk is about the same as entering the MiM lottery anyway.


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