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Desperately needs advice. PG&E is requiring to relocate and upgrade main panel for Solar panels + PowerWalls

Wildbill

Member
Sep 30, 2018
91
50
SF Bay Area
I ordered a 16.32 kW solar panels with 3 PowerWalls from Tesla last November. I just received an email from my project adviser that PG&E is requiring that I relocate and upgrade the main Panel. The cost will be between $10,000 to $20,000 and will take about 12 months longer. This is the email:

"I have received correspondence from my Project Management, Electrical Engineering team. In order to move your project forward, a main panel upgrade as well as relocation of your main service panel is required, per PG&E requirements.

PG&E not longer allows “like for like” panel swap outs in the same location if we are installation a PowerWall. The reason for this is due to the Powerwall also requiring to install additional equipment that will need the conduit to run over the gas. Since this is not allowed by PG&E, relocation of the main service panel has been made a requirement.

Please be advised that this will be fairly costly, anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on where the homeowner’s transformer box is and how long the trench that would be needed."

Project manager told me that it was because of the gas main so close to the main panel. Here is a picture below.

Has anyone had to upgrade the main panel? Is it that expensive to relocate and upgrade?
Is there any other options available?
Any suggestions?

Thank you.



Please let me know how you would like to move forward, so I may assist in expediting the hard quote retrieval process from our sub-contractors in the area. Should you decide to move forward with Tesla’s sub-contractors to do the work, it will add about 12 months into the timeline due to sub-contractor assignment, scope of work, utility coordination and Tesla’s correspondence and current backlog of pre-construction jobs.
 

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jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
7,807
8,631
Riverside Co. CA
If this is necessary, it would be like any other construction project where you would want to have it out for bid to a few different electrical companies in the area to get quotes. The letter from tesla tells you thats basically what they are going to do (use subs in the area).

Lots of people want to ask "is this the right price for this?" but, these are construction projects. Its like saying "This contractor is quoting 40k for my kitchen upgrade, is this the right price for this?". There are a ton of variables that could make a 40k kitchen upgrade cheap, or really expensive for the same home, depending on what is needed or not, what is included etc.

Approach this as a construction project on your home that is not included in your solar, and get bids, if you decide to move forward with the solar.
 

arnolddeleon

Supporting Member
Jul 21, 2012
702
776
SF Bay Area
Move the gas main? Considering the cost of moving the panel, I can't imagine shutting off gas and retrenching the line, and moving the meter would be $10-20k? But I don't know the permitting or code requirements for that...
I was going to suggest the same, this might be slightly cheaper.

The related option is abandon natural gas, if it is even an option. I'm on personal long term mission to switch to all electric.
 

SaveOurPlanet

Member
Jan 6, 2018
190
111
San Francisco
I suspect most of the expense is from the service upgrade and your service line is underground, I could be wrong. 2 years aog I was told that to upgrade my service to 200A I would expect tp pay 12k-15k just to PG&E and depending on how long is the underground run, electrician cost is additional. I did not mind the cost but 2 electricians told me that wait could be 6-12 months and that is just PG&E wait time.
 
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Southpasfan

Member
Jun 2, 2019
330
450
Pasadena
In my case the main panel upgrade quote from Tesla was fair, based on multiple bids.

You will need to drill down and understand the "why" of this from an engineering perspective to figure out if there is a better idea - like moving the gas instead.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,050
619
East Bay NorCal
Yeah, with your riser literally below your MSP I think it's worth considering moving your riser since that could be cheaper than extending or upgrading an underground conduit/service line. I'm in the same camp as everyone else; seeing your riser literally in the same enclosure as your main service panel is pretty nuts. Even if you didn't want to get PV+ESS, it's worth moving that riser just for the peace of mind at your house.

I posted the following in my other thread about the 36" rule... worth a try to see what PG&E says.

-------------------

1) Try to have your gas riser relocated.
The PG&E electricity folks will tell you "don't touch the gas riser, that's a big no-no". But then remember these PG&E electricity folks do not have your best interest in mind. Moving the gas riser could be cheap, but it's hard to tell without someone really researching your unique situation. Just like before, PG&E has a connections form that you can complete and begin the process to see what it would entail to get the gas riser to be farther away from the main service panel.

If your home is newer and moving the gas riser away from the MSP means getting closer to the street, this could just cost you a couple thousand dollars. This is because newer gas lines can be modified without a complete replacement. And shortening the pipe (getting closer to the street) is way easier than trying to lengthen it. But this could also be SUPER expensive in an older home if they have to replace the entire underground plumbing under your house. PG&E needs to look at it to know for sure.

PG&E will charge a $2,000 cost to do the assessment to see if this option could work for you. The $2,000 will apply toward the cost of moving the riser if you go this route.
 
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holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,050
619
East Bay NorCal
PG&E not longer allows “like for like” panel swap outs in the same location if we are installation a PowerWall


By the way, am I reading this correctly? Are you saying that if a Powerwall is involved, then PG&E will not grant a like-for-like exemption for the Main Service Panel replacement/upgrade?

Like, let's pretend your main service panel was 30 inches away from the riser... and and the new PV+ESS equipment would all be 36" or more away from the gas riser. Are you saying PG&E will deny the like-for-like on the main panel change?

I mean, I really hope they aren't doing this...
 

iPlug

Member
Sep 14, 2019
485
701
Rocklin, CA
If disconnection from NG is an option, concur with idea of arnolddeleon of going all electric in your mild SF climate.

We have been all electric for 2+ years (NG furnace->ducted central air heat pump, NG water heater->HPWH, NG cooking ->induction). If you had to eat 10-20k no matter what, that will go a long way into all electric conversion. This also presumes you have a service panel that can handle moving to all electric (including amperage, bus rating, sufficient breaker spaces, etc).
 

bayareaever

Member
Jun 17, 2013
314
158
East Bay Area
I ordered a 16.32 kW solar panels with 3 PowerWalls from Tesla last November. I just received an email from my project adviser that PG&E is requiring that I relocate and upgrade the main Panel. The cost will be between $10,000 to $20,000 and will take about 12 months longer. This is the email:

"I have received correspondence from my Project Management, Electrical Engineering team. In order to move your project forward, a main panel upgrade as well as relocation of your main service panel is required, per PG&E requirements.

PG&E not longer allows “like for like” panel swap outs in the same location if we are installation a PowerWall. The reason for this is due to the Powerwall also requiring to install additional equipment that will need the conduit to run over the gas. Since this is not allowed by PG&E, relocation of the main service panel has been made a requirement.

Please be advised that this will be fairly costly, anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on where the homeowner’s transformer box is and how long the trench that would be needed."

Project manager told me that it was because of the gas main so close to the main panel. Here is a picture below.

Has anyone had to upgrade the main panel? Is it that expensive to relocate and upgrade?
Is there any other options available?
Any suggestions?

Thank you.



Please let me know how you would like to move forward, so I may assist in expediting the hard quote retrieval process from our sub-contractors in the area. Should you decide to move forward with Tesla’s sub-contractors to do the work, it will add about 12 months into the timeline due to sub-contractor assignment, scope of work, utility coordination and Tesla’s correspondence and current backlog of pre-construction jobs.
My sf east Bay Area solar roof/3 pw install is currently in the final design phase. I agreed to a $5500 200 amp main panel upgrade. The current one is 200 amp but it apparently can’t handle the PWs and it’s also a bit close to the NG riser (which I’d eventually like to get rid of). I assume the price difference is my line is aerial, so no trenching. I talked to one electrician who quoted me $6k so going with Tesla’s price was a no brainer for me.

My advisor did not mention any delay and said the upgrade would be a one day affair which would be contracted out before the rest of the project.
 

BGbreeder

Member
Jun 19, 2020
146
81
Bay Area
I'm not a home inspector, but I will give you this for free: it is really really not a good idea to have a gas relief vent enclosed with electrical equipment. Period. I would remove that door or leave that door nailed wide open until you either relocate the gas service or the electrical service.

Seriously, if that photo shows gas equipment enclosed with a main service panel, it shows a real risk to life and safety. Please run, don't walk, to fix it.

In a lesser vein, I hope those cutouts below your main service panel aren't open electrical boxes.

On your original question, I would look into moving the gas line as an alternative to moving the electrical service, or if you can go all electric, getting it removed. As others have stated, the numbers that you were quoted are not unreasonable, but you will need local quotes, and many local electricians are maxed out at the moment between renovations and rebuilding.

All the best,

BG
 

Ampster

Active Member
Oct 5, 2012
1,683
432
Sonoma, California
I would tell them to disconnect the gas. Convert to all electric and never worry abiut gas leaks. I just made a bid to buy a home where that might be an issue and that is exactly what I am going to do.
NOTE: After reeading the entire thread I was pleased to see this was not just my hairbrained idea.
 
Last edited:

miimura

Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2013
6,106
5,708
Los Altos, CA
I'm not a home inspector, but I will give you this for free: it is really really not a good idea to have a gas relief vent enclosed with electrical equipment. Period. I would remove that door or leave that door nailed wide open until you either relocate the gas service or the electrical service.

Seriously, if that photo shows gas equipment enclosed with a main service panel, it shows a real risk to life and safety. Please run, don't walk, to fix it.

In a lesser vein, I hope those cutouts below your main service panel aren't open electrical boxes.

On your original question, I would look into moving the gas line as an alternative to moving the electrical service, or if you can go all electric, getting it removed. As others have stated, the numbers that you were quoted are not unreasonable, but you will need local quotes, and many local electricians are maxed out at the moment between renovations and rebuilding.

All the best,

BG
I can see in the picture that the gas relief vent is plumbed outside the enclosure. Leaving it open would actually provide MORE access to arc ignition source than leaving the door closed.
 
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SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
8,867
9,462
SF Bay Area
I was rather shocked seeing that enclosure. All you need is a small gas leak and a spark from the electrical panel somewhere. I know from posts on the forum a few older homes have had issues requiring panels away from the gas meter.

We were okay on our distance from the meter but did need a MPU, bus wasn’t adequate for the PWs we were adding. This was back in March last year right before covid shutdown and back then Tesla was swamped with installs. MPUs were done by their subcontractors and we were told that their guys were booked out for several months. Price here in SFBay area where we are was around what other guy paid on his job. We ended up hiring our own electrician to upgrade our panel to speed timing up. I guess with the popularity of solar installs and other construction work, the guys trained to do this work are booked out. A year or more had to be disheartening to hear.

In any event seeing your utility area I would plan on getting the work done asap, either the MPU using your own electrician if you can find one soon or maybe go with the all electric option if that pans out. If you need a referral on a Bay Area electrician with experience in this and does nice work, start a conversation with me. Good luck in any event. Building and Fire Codes and electricity rates are in flux and getting work done sooner is probably more advantageous to you in the long run. Until this utilty work gets done you’re pretty much dead in the water getting the solar/PWs installed. Hopefully PW production will increase while you’re waiting on the other.
 
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Wildbill

Member
Sep 30, 2018
91
50
SF Bay Area
Thank you everyone for all your inputs.

Now I feel very paranoid with the main electrical panel right next to the gas main. I most likely will go forward and relocate the main electrical panel. I am not sure if we can disconnect the gas. Our furnace, water heater, oven, range and dryer all use gas. So, if we were to go all electric, we would need to replace all those appliances.

There is a relief vent that is plumbed outside of enclosure. I hope this makes it slightly safer.
 
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Ampster

Active Member
Oct 5, 2012
1,683
432
Sonoma, California
@holeydonut wrote up a good summary of the issue and the measurement method. There were several suggestions about moving the gas riser to left and it would be worth getting a quote on doing that just to compare options. You would also have to get a plumber to lengthen the house side of your gas plumbing to get the meter out of that enclosure when the riser was mived.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
1,050
619
East Bay NorCal
I’m still concerned about the language from the Tesla advisor that implies no like-for-like if a powerwall is involved...

Granted this particular application is super tight between the riser and the MSP, the Tesla person made it sound like PG&E was stopping like for like since ESS was involved.
 

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