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Maryland Post-Intall Activities

This is a rather long post, discussing our post-install process and experiences, now that we have PTO and completed most of our various incentive submissions. Much of it will likely be specific to our county (Montgomery), utility (PEPCO), and state (MD) but some aspects apply more generally. I did try to include a summary of lessons learned at the end of each section.

We started planning with Tesla for a v2 solar roof install in July, 2019, and then moved to v3 (8.19 kW DC,) which pushed the schedule to be as soon as weather would allow in 2020. Initially, we planned 1 PW but did switch it to 2 a couple weeks before install. Install began (with teardown of the old roof) on 2/28 and ended on 3/14 (except gutters, which were scheduled a few days later.) The remainder of this post is about the county inspection process, utility interconnection process, and applications for state incentives. Somewhat unexpectedly, the highest marks probably go to the state and then the county. And the overall theme with Tesla had already been mentioned many times on this forum – everybody seems to do a really good job completing their tasks, but communication between groups is lacking, so the customer may need to assume that general contractor role to speed things along.

County Inspection

In our area, the county is responsible for code enforcement and inspections. In what is likely a typical process, plans must be submitted before install, the county reviews and approves them, installation occurs, and then the county inspects. County approval is a prerequisite for PTO and for state incentives.

Initially, everything seemed to be moving smoothly. Permits (both a Building Permit and Electrical were required) were applied for in July, 2019, and then updates were made in November to reflect the move to v3. Unfortunately, things did not remain on track, though from what I can tell, most of the blame lies with Tesla and with me.

As mentioned above, we added a second PW to our order just before install. We indicated we wanted the change, but only if it would not delay the process. Tesla assured us it would not. That turned out only to be true in so far as the install itself. Unfortunately, Tesla did not submit the updated plans to the county before our install started. The main impact here is that, during the install, Tesla found they needed to make some small adjustments to the plans. However, these were significant enough to require updating the permits again. Because the change for the PW was still in progress, the county would not (according to Tesla) accept additional changes until the existing reviews completed. Then, on top of that, there were additional issues found that required another set of reviews. Fortunately, despite the pandemic, the county was actually doing a pretty good job of meeting its timelines and the multiple cycles of reviews were completed on 4/21.

The pandemic meant the inspector would remain outside while a Tesla employee came into the house to provide the necessary evidence to the inspector via video call. Though the county could provide an inspector the next day, to coordinate everybody, inspection occurred on 4/27. Other than the inspector being about two hours late showing up, everything went smoothly – in truth having the inspector remain outside and also having a Tesla employee present was great for the chances of the inspection passing. The inspector gave the Tesla employee the “passed” sticker and that process was complete.

In hindsight, the biggest thing we could have done differently to speed the process would have been to more closely monitor the permit application with Tesla and the county to ensure everything was being submitted. The county does have an online portal, but it does not appear to show submission times – only reviews/approvals – so it is not always obvious when the county received updates from Tesla. Other than the deficiencies in the portal, I have to give the county credit for moving things along, even during the pandemic.

Utility Interconnection

Once the county process is complete, Tesla could apply for PTO from PEPCO. This is slated to take up to 4 weeks. Unfortunately, it ended up taking 12 weeks, until 7/20. In this case, I put much of the blame on Tesla initially, and then on PEPCO.

PEPCO must also review and approve plans before installation. Like with the county, this was completed well in advance of our install. However, what I did not realize is that all of the updates being sent to the county for review were not being sent to PEPCO. Only once we got county approval did Tesla begin submitting paperwork to PEPCO. This means we would have to wait another 3-4 weeks for technical reviews. On top of this, PEPCO found deficiencies (and I cannot speak to the exact nature) in the paperwork, so multiple sets of reviews were required. As such, we were not back to an “Approved to Install” status until 6/8. At that point, Tesla could actually request PTO.

PEPCO also has one of the worst web presences I have encountered. In part, we still today have an outstanding work request for solar, despite getting PTO. Then, PEPCO started sending us emails from a different domain with status changes on the application. The emails invited us to login to a specific page, but doing so brought a message letting us know we have no project. Along with it being difficult to find somebody on the phone, it made tracking the process a challenge.

Tesla did apply for PTO soon after the 6/8 date. Per PEPCO, the next step would be to replace the meter. What they did not tell us is that the smart meters already in place were net-meter capable with an over-the-air update. Only because I noticed one day that our usage had reset to 0 did I figure out this step was complete (and then noted a $0.21 estimated charge from 1-2 am one night, presumably when they applied the update.) So, we never did receive notice on that step.

After 5 weeks passed, we started raising the issue of the overdue PTO with PEPCO. It is unclear whether that helped or was a coincidence, but two business days later, on 7/20, we finally received PTO. This consisted of 12 emails from PEPCO’s system within half an hour, all having the same status change but only one of which had the attachment confirming PTO.

The biggest thing we could have done to push this process likely would have been to get Tesla to submit the proper paperwork to PEPCO immediately, rather than waiting for the county. I suspect this is an example of the downside of Tesla’s siloed approach – the individual/department responsible for utility interconnections was likely just never alerted that they had to do more work until the PTO step hit, at which point they realized they couldn’t apply for PTO before changes were reviewed. On the PEPCO side, there is not a lot it seems we could do – they mostly (other than the final PTO step) seemed to respond exactly 1 day before the required due date to all tasks. They really have little incentive to speedily convert customers to net metering (and PEPCO does provide full net metering.) We did choose to operate off grid when we could, to not waste the opportunity to generate energy – it did not seem incompatible with the agreements we signed since passed inspection and never operated the system on grid.

State Incentives

In addition to the federal ITC, there are three incentives related to solar/PW in MD that are discussed below. Two other incentives include no sales tax for the solar (but not for PW) and no property tax adjustment for the value of solar, but those are automatic. I am unaware of any available county or utility incentives, and I have not gotten around to signing up with Solar Coin.

We waited until PTO to apply for all of these incentives. It is possible that the first two might have been accepted after county inspection, depending on how one reads the rules, but we felt safer waiting for PTO, even though such documentation was not required in the end.

Maryland Energy Storage Income Tax Credit

This is a credit of 30%, up to $5,000, for installation of battery storage systems, like PWs, in residential buildings (Maryland Energy Storage Income Tax Credit- Tax Year 2020) from the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA). As it happens, this credit is just about perfectly maxed out with two PWs. The only requirement is that the batteries are “for use as electrical energy at a later date or in a process that offsets electricity use at peak times.” However, the definitions do not require any specific amounts to be used later or to offset peak use.

There are several items that are required from Tesla, and to speed the process, I requested them during the long wait for PTO. These included:
  1. Basic contact info for Tesla.
  2. Paid-in-full invoice, with specific line items for PW costs, including hardware, tax, labor, permits.
  3. NRTL certifications for the PWs.
  4. Cut-sheets for the PWs.
Tesla did provide the requested items to me, and the only issue ended up being the invoice.

There is an online application and the process was fairly straightforward. In addition to what I requested from Tesla, I needed to provide some other documentation I had on the permits being approved and pictures of the install.

After submission on 7/20, I received an email the morning of 7/21 indicating an issue with the application – namely that the paid-in-full invoice only had a single line item for the PWs and did not break out the component costs. I responded with a copy of the contract from Tesla which broke out all the costs, though it did not show the $0 balance (and as an aside, I claimed $0 for PW permits because I already maxed the credit – if getting 1 PW, you might need to have Tesla allocate permit costs appropriately.) To their great credit, even though neither document itself met the criteria, the MEA accepted the two documents together did meet them. On 7/23 – only 3 days after the initial application – I received the credit certificate for $5,000. That credit can be claimed on our 2020 state tax return.

The main thing here is to review the application ahead of time and have the documentation ready so you can submit the application right away. As far as the MEA goes, I could not have asked for better service and response – I was stunned to see a state agency process a credit so quickly and efficiently. Also, note this credit is funded for $750k. I am surprised how little is claimed, but if it should run out, I understand they will reject the application and not hold/allow it for next year.

Maryland Residential Clean Energy Program

In addition, the MEA has a credit of $1,000 for solar installations (MEA - Residential Clean Energy Rebate Program). This is handled somewhat similarly to the storage credit in that there is an online application. The differences are that this is a rebate, so you get a check (instead of a tax credit – which also affects federal taxes and the ITC differently) and, my understanding is that grants are paid out first-come, first-served, but as more money is allocated, existing installs will get paid.

Again, I requested in advance documentation from Tesla, though the only thing I knew at the time that I needed from them was appropriate contact information. Much of the rest (including proof of ownership, pictures of the roof, copies of the permits, and the license number from the contract) I could get myself.

However, I did find one item that was not mentioned on the website (that I saw) and ended up being a field in the application that only appears after you check that a professional installed (as opposed to self-install) and that is the NABCEP – North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners – professional’s name and number. Because I had not requested this from Tesla, and because the person at Tesla at first did not know what this was, this delayed the application by about a week.

Once I did submit, I again give MEA credit for quickly reviewing it. The one odd wrinkle here is that they require your SSN, and, likely because their online system is insufficiently secure, they require you to mail in a signature page where the only added piece of data is your SSN. I placed this in my outgoing mail the same night. However, the next morning they emailed to let me know that, due to the pandemic, the setup an encrypted email process to submit the document, because it may take weeks to get paper mail. As the mail had not been picked up, it was easy enough to submit this electronically.

After submitting, I discovered another wrinkle (which they do mention on their site – I missed it,) which is that all older properties – over 45 years – must be reviewed by the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) as the law provides that they cannot issue rebates where the installation creates an “adverse impact” on anything deemed historic. While I am very confident there is nothing historic about our property, it appears this review can take weeks or months as the MHT does report slowdowns with the pandemic. At least this review is initiated automatically by the state – the only thing they recommend for such structures is providing a photograph of the front of the property along with the application. Once the review is hopefully complete, we should be in line for the $1,000 rebate. My understanding is that it can take several more months to receive it as they meter out the funds available.

Again, the best thing to do is review the application ahead of time and get what you need from Tesla early (including the name/number of the NABCEP professional.) The MEA again seemed to move quickly to review and grant initial approval to the application, though I will reserve comment on the MHT review since it is ongoing.

Maryland SRECs

Maryland also provides for SRECs, essentially where solar generators can sell credits for each MWh to utilities which need to meet quotas for clean energy generation. We chose to work with SRECTrade and filled out an application on 7/20. There was a short delay because we registered the facility in both my and my wife’s names (because I signed the Tesla contract but our electric is in my wife’s name) and the automated signature pages didn’t seem to fully support that, so they emailed us another form to fill out. Once that was done, on 7/24, SRECTrade indicated the application was submitted to the state to register our facility, and that would take up to 45 days. In fact, we received approval on 8/12 – only 19 days. At present, we are still waiting for our July numbers to appear – they are marked “Pending” in the SRECTrade system. Since our solar is under 10 kW DC, reporting of actual generation is not required – it is based on estimates. So, it will be interesting to see how that all compares.

As with the other incentives, the best thing to do to speed this process was to gather the required documentation in advance. This application did require providing signed copies of all documentation from the utility approving the install and granting PTO. Since SRECTrade is in business (in part) to make money off of SRECs, they were very responsive getting the system setup. Again, credit to the state for getting our system registered well within their stated timeline.
 
Really helpful explanation, thanks! I'll be embarking on solar panels + PW's in the near future too - I'm in Howard County but the process is very similar.
Yeah - at least the state stuff should be the same. With luck, your utility will handle the interconnection better, though I'm guessing you are BGE, so owned by the same parent company.

On the Storage credit, two things of note that occurred to me. The bigger one is that they have a January 15 deadline for submitting applications for the prior year, and there are specific rules about when it is complete (as I mentioned, it may be at inspection, not PTO.) But if there is any question for an install that spans 2020-21, definitely check as they seem to be pretty strict on the deadlines. The other is more an interesting oddity that - at least for my contract - Tesla advertised the solar credit but not the battery credit. I don't know if that has changed as it seems like they would want to advertise all of the incentives. They didn't really have an answer why when I asked (I was worried they knew a reason it wouldn't qualify) but I had no issue with the state accepting it.
 
Great writeup, thanks.

I'm about to apply for all the incentives, and now I'll Know what else I need to ask my installer for. They don't seem to have a clue beyond final price paid.

It would be nice if they, a local installer, could just give me a PDF with everything in it.

In terms of our PTO, we found out at about 4:30pm on a Tuesday that the meter had been swapped. Someone came and did it in the morning and didn't tell us. :D We have Potmac up here.
 
Great writeup, thanks.

I'm about to apply for all the incentives, and now I'll Know what else I need to ask my installer for. They don't seem to have a clue beyond final price paid.

It would be nice if they, a local installer, could just give me a PDF with everything in it.

In terms of our PTO, we found out at about 4:30pm on a Tuesday that the meter had been swapped. Someone came and did it in the morning and didn't tell us. :D We have Potmac up here.
This is another area where you save money with Tesla but have to do more work. I believe both the MD solar and battery incentives have an option to indicate you are an installer applying for your customer. I would guess that most local installers submit the applications on behalf of their customers as part of the contract. But I would agree that it would be nice if Tesla was at least prepared with all the documentation needed. Some of it you might already have in the material Tesla already provides to the customer and utilities, but not all of it, and not in one place.
 
WJGjr,
I am starting the Tesla V3 Solar Roof process today, we will see how the Pandemic delays the process. Many thanks for the postings. I am down in Anne Arundel County and hope to get this roof system installed in the near future (?). Did you think the Powerwalls were a good idea pre-Pandemic? And your thoughts post-Pamdemic, if they differ at all?
 
WJGjr,
I am starting the Tesla V3 Solar Roof process today, we will see how the Pandemic delays the process. Many thanks for the postings. I am down in Anne Arundel County and hope to get this roof system installed in the near future (?). Did you think the Powerwalls were a good idea pre-Pandemic? And your thoughts post-Pamdemic, if they differ at all?
If you want a broader set of opinions, it might be worth asking in its own thread, only because there is a wide spectrum of opinions. Specific to here (not sure about your utility) there are no time of use rates available to me, so my reasons for going with PWs are:
  1. Ability to power our home during an outage. For our house, 2 PWs were sufficient for whole-home backup, along with a sure start device Tesla installed on our A/C. Larger homes (particularly with larger A/C units) and/or homes without gas heat/hot water would likely need more PWs.
  2. The pricing is very good right now. With the $5k from the state, 26% ITC on the rest from the feds, and the solar+PW discount Tesla was offering when we got our roof, the price point was much more attractive.
  3. Future flexibility. While I don't really expect more outages, I do expect TOU rates to arrive soon (PEPCO - and I think other MD utilities - are running TOU pilots now, though PEPCO's at least is closed to new customers.)
That said, right now, it would be very difficult to provide a hard ROI on PWs. It is mostly for convenience/peace of mind against outages, with the added hope that it might save me money if and when TOU comes in. I'm not sure the pandemic has really changed my opinion - I suppose it does heighten awareness that things can change fast. But, if anything, watching what is happening in CA, or the recent story in the Post talking about how easily the gird can be hacked, are the kind of things that might increase my satisfaction with getting PWs. (At least, as long as our inverters don't have the malware the Post suggests might already be in grid equipment.)

As a side note, since you are just starting the process, are you aware of the referral process/bonus for Tesla? It sounds like if you already have a vehicle, you can self-refer, but if not, you can get a referral code that gets both you and the referrer a discount. I would, not surprisingly, be more than happy to share my code if you do not have one and have not put in your order.
 
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I guess I am starting backward, no EV yet but hopefully I will buy one in the near future. My utility company (BGE) has a price increase, again, in October. Several years ago I replaced my second story HVAC with a very efficient A/C rating and the next week BGE had a 72% increase, so I noticed no impact after a $8700.00 investment.
My roof is nearly 20 years old and I am getting ready to sell my house in the next 3-5 years. So my goals are somewhat unique, I want to put a premium roof on the house, add electric back-up (PW) and reduce my monthly bills to provide the next owner with value and flexibility.

Please send me your referral code and I will see if Tesla will honor it ATF.
 
I guess I am starting backward, no EV yet but hopefully I will buy one in the near future. My utility company (BGE) has a price increase, again, in October. Several years ago I replaced my second story HVAC with a very efficient A/C rating and the next week BGE had a 72% increase, so I noticed no impact after a $8700.00 investment.
My roof is nearly 20 years old and I am getting ready to sell my house in the next 3-5 years. So my goals are somewhat unique, I want to put a premium roof on the house, add electric back-up (PW) and reduce my monthly bills to provide the next owner with value and flexibility.

Please send me your referral code and I will see if Tesla will honor it ATF.
I will PM you the link - no worries if they don't take it. I too do not have an EV, but a lot of folks here do seem to go with the EV first.

On the A/C, the numbers you will want to look at are the "LRA" (Locked Rotor Amps) for the units. Add those up (since it sounds like multiple,) divide by 30, round up, and that is the bare minimum number of PWs you would need to ensure your units can all start in an outage (since they could come on at the same time.) And, you might need more for other loads that are running. The purpose of soft start/sure start devices is to effectively reduce the LRA number, but if you look at these forums, there are issues others have reported, depending on the unit. So far, so good with ours, but it is worth researching if you plan to use them as part of the project.
 
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This thread was extremely helpful. We drove past your house in Silver Spring a couple months ago and decided to move forward with the SGR after seeing how amazing yours looked. We are doing a new construction so it might be a little bit different but hopefully the timing works out.

We put our $100 down in on 6/29, received a txt in early August stating they started permitting and another txt on 8/12 saying all permits were approved. Our SGR system is 18.07Kw with 4 PW's. We don't have outages often here currently but we wanted to future proof it and we be prepared for power issues with more severe storms, etc.

At the same time, we are getting a 7.25kw system on our guest house (it didn't qualify for the SGR because it has a steep roof on part of it). Oddly, Tesla won't tie it together as one project. Everything has to be done completely separately. I'm hoping they can tie it to 4 PW's so we can feed them during outages but they weren't sure if that would be possible or not. I think part of the problem is we are going to have 2 200 amp circuits but I don't fully understand it.

So far, we are impressed with Tesla and hope things stay that way. Thanks again for all your input!
 

willow_hiller

Active Member
Apr 3, 2019
4,063
23,595
Maryland
Thanks for the write up, @wjgjr !

This doesn't apply to MoCo, but for anyone visiting this thread from PGC, we've actually got a 50% property tax credit up to $5,000 that is very poorly documented: https://www.princegeorgescountymd.g...Alternative-Energy-Tax-Credit-Application-PDF

As far as I understand, it has a very extreme waiting list. When a different contractor called the county on our behalf at the beginning of the year, applications submitted in January 2020 were being fulfilled in 2026!
 

willow_hiller

Active Member
Apr 3, 2019
4,063
23,595
Maryland
A small write-up for any future Maryland residents that need license numbers and NABCEP certification numbers for Tesla. With help from @wjgjr , I've realized that all of the information I needed was actually public, it just took a hell of a lot of searching to find:

1. Tesla lists all of their state-by-state license numbers here: Contractor Licenses | Tesla Support In Maryland their Home Improvement Contractor license number is "HIC 128948" and the license number for their Master Electrician is "EL-11805"

2. License look-ups in the state of Maryland can be found here: Licensing Queries - Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing - Maryland Department of Labor where you can verify the HIC license, and lookup the Master Electrician: Welcome to the Master Electricians Public Query (just enter 11805 from above). His name is "NICHOLAUS A MEYERS."

3. The MEA needs the electrician's NABCEP number which can be found via the NABCEP directory Board Certified Professionals Directory | NABCEP. In this case Mr. Meyers is a "PV Installation Professional" with a NABCEP number of "PV-101913-001653."

These are the required details as of writing. In the future, any applicants can simply ask Tesla for their HIC license number and Master Electrician license number, and they should be able to lookup all of the further required details.
 

willow_hiller

Active Member
Apr 3, 2019
4,063
23,595
Maryland
Nice job tracking all that down - still crazy that Tesla doesn't simply have this as a stock answer - this is not a new incentive, and I can't believe no other customers have needed the NABCEP number before.

FWIW I forwarded the information on to the advisor that was trying to look it up for me, and she actually responded in 2 minutes with a thanks saying she would keep it on hand for the future.

So the lucky Maryland resident who gets her as an advisor will be set, and the rest will hopefully find this thread.
 
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Just to close out two items.... I received the $1,000 check from the state yesterday, one day short of 3 months after submitting the application. There was nothing additional I needed to do - it took about 3 weeks to approve the application, and another 3 to complete the historical review, which, as expected, found nothing historic about the property. The program noted it would take 6-8 (or 8-10 in other places) weeks for the state to issue the check (and I may have missed it, but I did not see an option for an electronic transfer), so 7 was within their schedule.

SRECTrade deposited payment for our first SREC on 10/23. Again, no additional work on my part. With the smaller system, they estimate my production, and it appears they may be basing it on the actual weather for the month. I say this because both Aug. and Sept. estimates were really close to my actual and do not align with the estimates I got from PVWatts (in the sense that the ratio between Aug. and Sept. was not the same.) In any case, Aug. was not quite enough to generate an SREC, so the first was generated at the end of Sept. Using their managed sales option, they sold it on 10/9 ($78.25, so apparently they have more resolution than their graphs, which are in whole dollars.) They take their commission and two weeks later (I am guessing they make a bit holding the funds a couple extra days) deposit the funds into my bank account.

With that, the only remaining paperwork before being in fully operational mode is next year's taxes. For the state, hopefully there will be no issue using the credit certificate issued for the PWs. I also expect the state to issue a 1099 for the clean energy grant, meaning I will have to pay federal taxes on that amount (but then do not have to deduct it from the ITC amount, so it essentially becomes a wash.)
 

willow_hiller

Active Member
Apr 3, 2019
4,063
23,595
Maryland
I also expect the state to issue a 1099 for the clean energy grant, meaning I will have to pay federal taxes on that amount (but then do not have to deduct it from the ITC amount, so it essentially becomes a wash.)

I think your tax interpretation is correct, but I wouldn't wait for the state to issue you a 1099-G. I received the MEA EVSE grant last year, and waited months for a 1099-G that never appeared. I ended up just filling out my taxes as if I had a 1099-G for it.
 
I think your tax interpretation is correct, but I wouldn't wait for the state to issue you a 1099-G. I received the MEA EVSE grant last year, and waited months for a 1099-G that never appeared. I ended up just filling out my taxes as if I had a 1099-G for it.

I think I am now signed up to receive them electronically from the state, but they do seem to be slow to get them out in past years, so we will see. I know they explicitly stated that the grants are taxable and we will receive a 1099, but that doesn't mean they will follow through in the end.
 

willow_hiller

Active Member
Apr 3, 2019
4,063
23,595
Maryland
I think I am now signed up to receive them electronically from the state, but they do seem to be slow to get them out in past years, so we will see. I know they explicitly stated that the grants are taxable and we will receive a 1099, but that doesn't mean they will follow through in the end.

Yep. I also signed up on interactive.marylandtaxes.gov. I just checked, they still don't have a 1099G on file from my 2019 grant. I think they only issue them for things like unemployment payments.
 

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