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Off Peak Rates in Massachusetts?

Discussion in 'New England' started by aronth5, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. aronth5

    aronth5 Long Time Follower

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    I've noticed in various threads that some are able to get off hour electrical rates that are lower then what National Grid (Mass.)offers. The only R2 or R4 rates available from National Grid that I've seen require a minimum kWh monthly usage. Since I have a 6kWh solar system that means I'll never comply. Does anyone know of any options available for National Grid customers?

    http://www.nationalgridus.com/masselectric/business/energychoice/4_supplier_list.asp
     
  2. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    @aronth5: No, your SOL. As a National Grid customer, the only time-of-use rate you might qualify for is R-4. Regardless of your solar panels, though, the 2,500kWh/month minimum is a show-stopper; that's 3x higher than a typical householder's consumption.

    NStar does offer a TOU rate for residential customers, though. It only works if you can really control your load to push usage away from the (broadly defined) peaks. If you have air-conditioning, it's probably a loser.
     
  3. aronth5

    aronth5 Long Time Follower

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    Thank you Robert. Your reply was expected but I figured it didn't hurt to ask. And yes we have central AC.
     
  4. EdA

    EdA Model S P-2540

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    Have you done the math, does anyone have "the spreadsheet?
    With solar panels (which I also have) and central air this may be a wash?

    I just noticed NStar has an R-4 (Optional Residential Time of Use) plan.
    I've started a conversation with them...
     
  5. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    I've done the spreadsheet on R-1 vs. R-4; it's on my other computer, though, so I'll post it later. It's not pretty, just a worksheet I built for my own use.
     
  6. big maple

    big maple New Member

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    I signed up for NStar R-4 a couple of months ago, and they finally installed an updated meter a few weeks ago. Since we have solar, no central air, and charging the car takes about 130% of our normal monthly use, it should be a big win for us.
     
  7. EdA

    EdA Model S P-2540

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    That is awesome. I have 2 fridges, and 2 dehumidifiers and Central Air...

    How big is your solar installation?
     
  8. big maple

    big maple New Member

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    EdA:
    Our PV system is 4.8kw, but it faces mostly west. Since I won't cool the house much during the summer days, our PV generation should easily meet our domestic needs. And the car charging off peak, means that worst case its break even R1 vs R4 in the middle of winter. This month, for example, we'll generate 420 kw.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Typo ... 420kwh
     
  9. Jack

    Jack P-880

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    Big maple, what has your experience been with the R4? After a long process, just got my R4 installed end of August. Have 9.2 kw on my south-facing Waquoit home, and seems to be net plus 2MW thus far since May installation. Considering for my metrowest home, but concerned as it is east-west like yours.
     
  10. robby

    robby Member

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    Did you two need any minimum usage requirements to get on the R4 plan? If not, what's the reason why not everyone would go on that plan?
     
  11. bigmaple1

    bigmaple1 Member

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    (My user name has changed. Long ago I forgot the login to Big Maple, so now, everyone can call me Big Maple1 :))
    I've had TOU (through NSTAR) for about a year now. It has been awesome for us. The 'net' effect is that my solar panel output gets a multiplier of about 1.3 to 1.4 in terms of $$, and almost all of my useage is off-peak. (ACs turned on at 6pm in the summer, lights, cooking, laundry, electronics, all on when we are at home during the evening (or weekends, which are all off-peak). The 2 biggest factors that make this work for us is:
    1 - Solar Panels -- guess what, they generate power during peak times, and are credited accordingly.
    2 - Car charging -- off-peak. This is ~60% of our total energy use (around 700kwh-800kwh / month for the car)
    The numbers aren't quite the same this year, since I built a garage over the winter, and the car is now charging on its own (no TOU) meter. I'm hoping NSTAR will let me transistion that meter to TOU -- they said I need to have enough 'historical data' before we can have that conversation. Also, I am working on getting the excess credit from my house applied to my garage account. This is mostly a paperwork thing with NSTAR.
    Here are my numbers from last month:
    Solar Panel generation 596 kwh
    House use: 556 kwh
    Garage use (cars): 503 kwh
    ===========================
    Total Energy from Grid: 463 kwh
    Total Bills $-47.32 + $105.42 = $ 58.10 ($0.125 / kwh from grid including service charges)

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    I don't think NSTAR has a minimum requirement (or if they do, I don't know what it is and I use enough).
    Also, keep in mind, the 'normal', versus 'peak', and 'off-peak' rates are not close to symetric. If you were to use 10kwh peak, and 10kwh off-peak, you pay the same as about 24kwh normal. If you were to use 0kwh peak, and 20 kwh off-peak, you pay the same as about 14kkwh normal
    Rates for my last bill were
    Peak (all per/kwh charges) $0.31164
    Off-peak (all per/kwh charges) $0.13297
    Normal (all per/kwh charges) $0.18555
     
  12. robby

    robby Member

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    Thanks, that explains it. AC wouldn't be doing us any favors in the summer, it sounds.
     
  13. tga

    tga Active Member

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    Be thankful you have these options. I'm on a municipal electric company - no option for TOU, no funds from the Renewable Energy Trust Fund, and no net metering. And 17 cents/kWh (customer savings, indeed :rolleyes:)
     
  14. 3mp_kwh

    3mp_kwh Member

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    National Grid - Time of Use


    Wow, Nat Grid does have a 2,500kwh per month average one must meet, in order to qualify for peak/off-peak electricity pricing. I am not sure how they pulled off what amounts to the effective disqualification of 90% of their customers (avg U.S. consumption is ~750kwh/mnth). We're ~3,000 sq ft. with a/c, electric water heat, etc, and only get to ~2,000kwh maybe 2-3 times per year, with a Volt.


    It looks like the Nat Grid discount wasn't big, anyway (7.99-1.928= 6 cents/kwh). The base rate would fall between $.13/kwh and $.20/kwh, considering supplier, etc., charges of 8-9 cents. NSTAR has no such requirement and spreads about the same for Oct-May, but gets a lot back when they upwardly adjust the peak rate to $.30/kwh from 9-6PM during June-Sept. -This is the sting daytime A/C can give you. I've been on NSTAR TOU, and typically keep off-peak to peak watts in a ratio of around 4:1. So, its still worth it.


    Municipal utility pricing can vary. I do analysis, from time to time, on the MA utilities and found the off-peak rates of the public entity "Massachusetts Wholesale" can be extreme. About 29 municipalities actually own a percentage of nukes, like SeaBrook, and in towns like Reading offer rates as low as $.03/kwh overnight, all-in. Try your Zip code on whatsmypower.com, as an initial portal through which to determine how you'd fare.


    If you are with NSTAR, be prepared to be persistent, as you sign on to TOU. With a Tesla, I think you'd be hard pressed not to come out ahead. The state also offers a $750 rebate on hybrid water heaters, which I kid you not, can cut ordinary kwh consumption by more than 50% (they can also be put on a timer).


    As far as solar, MA looks like a battle of solar companies on utilities, rather than one where the customer is significantly at the table. I'm not certain, but municipal utilities and the big boys can reject net metering, once they've reached a pre-set cap (~4% of peak load). The point is you will get nowhere, if you live in an area with a utility who has already signed up so many households. For NSTAR and Nat Grid, this applies to their entire state footprint. The smaller, public utilities may have other tools to neglect you, but a lot of this is changing as many states, including MA, reach for unlimited solar caps. So, you might yet get signed up, but beware that other cash flows in the analysis of "whether to go solar, in MA" may also be at play.
    Solar advocates and utilities discuss net metering future for Massachusetts | PV-Tech

    Utilty pricing is very tricky. In states, like MA, where deregulation took effect, the for-profit distributors can't own generation (supply), but do end up being the ones to pass on the off-peak savings ordinarily associated with cheap power, overnight.
     
  15. Jack

    Jack P-880

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    No minimum usage. Only reason why not is it's not easy to do - only one person supports residential TOU and communicating was not trivial. I have not seen my first bill yet, so curious as to big maple's experience. Peak is 9-6 in DST and 6-9PM in EST - so you get the full benefit during peak generation season. My calculations have it way ahead of basic rates, but haven't seen first bill yet.

    Still - great feeling to have the model s run on the sun and free for rest of life - and with SREC's at $278 and TOU - a reasonably short payback

    - - - Updated - - -

    Big Maple (ok if I call you that for short) - thanks for the update - my use case is almost identical. I have a 9.2kw system - south facing - and am generating about 1.3 MW during the summer months. Solar actually help cool the house by shading the roof, or at least I believe so.

    I'm debating whether to solarize my southborough house - which is east/west like yours. My original though was to build out the cape house which is south facing, and transfer the excess - until I found my southborough house was with National Grid and they don't cross-transfer between companies/zones - so I overbuilt down here. You don't have that problem with the house/garage since you're in the same zone. I paid about $36K with auto reporting and all the options with Cotuit Solar for 9.2kw (which is DC - converts to 7.9 AC after .82 reduction), and will get about 1/3 of that back. Do the economics work with your configuration - what is the payback - and who did the work?
     
  16. bigmaple1

    bigmaple1 Member

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    Yes, you can call me Big Maple

    I got a very good deal for my system. It was installed about 22 months ago. I went with Solar City (Power Purchase Agreement - which means they own the equipment, insure it, repair it, and guarantee a particular yearly output, or they refund some money). I paid it all up front, so I didn't have the inflation calculation applied to the cost of the power. Their math showed me paying around 5 cents per kwh from the panels for 20 years. I don't get the SRECs, but my total expense was less than $5,000. They way I calculate it (which takes into account the benefit of how TOU is calculated), I have saved paying NSTAR about $2300 at this point. So, payback will be in less than 4 years. The low capital cost, 20 years of insurance, repair, and guarantee, and removal from uncertainty about the future pricing of SRECs, made the PPA the way to go for us. Also, because I don't own the panels, I get no rebates, incentives, or tax breaks (other than the 10-year property tax abatement on the improvement)

    Note - I checked on getting some panels put on the garage about 6 months ago, and the price with 2 to 3 times what it was for the house. The economics are different in that case, and they would also have a longer payback if I couldn't do TOU at the same time. I'm not surprised about the higher prices, to be honest. I know the state rebate amounts have gone down with each new rebate/incentive program, and since this would be my second install at the same address, there may even be other exclusions.

    For my mostly west facing 4 pitch roof, with an Edge Solar inverter system (hybrid, sort of like microinverter in that it finds the power point for each panel, and if a panel is shaded, it doesn't take down the whole string), my first year (Nov '12 through Oct '13) I produced 5.4Mwh from a 4.8Kwh system. So far this year (Nov'13 through Aug'14) I have produced 5.1Mwh. I do have some evening shading on the panels, and the first year I had a maple tree to the south that had some shading that I removed to build the garage, so this year will probably have a higher total output.

    Hope that is helpful.
     
  17. DNAinaGoodWay

    DNAinaGoodWay Member

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  18. tga

    tga Active Member

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    DNAinaGoodWay asked me to post the attached PDF (he can't, as he is still a junior member).

    It is a Notice of Technical Conference from the Mass Department of Public Utilities. The DPU will host two conferences on 10/16 and 11/6 to "address the following issues identified in D.P.U. 13-182-A: (1) the design and implementation of appropriate rate structures to encourage off-peak electric vehicle (“EV”) charging and associated metering; (2) the positive and negative impact of EV charging on the distribution system; (3) the implementation of grid interactive technologies and pilots; and (4) other considerations raised by stakeholders."
     

    Attached Files:

  19. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    I hadn't been following this DPU docket, but I should have. The commissioners have reached a very important conclusion in the precedent order to this tech conference: namely, that providing EV charging is not selling electricity. The order is here: http://web1.env.state.ma.us/DPU/FileRoomAPI/api/Attachments/Get/?path=13-182%2fORDER_13182A.pdf

    This conclusion--based on some fairly narrow reading of the statutory language IMO--is a Big Deal. It affirms that the EV charging business is not subject to DPU regulation. In Utah they had to enact new legislation to get to that point.

    I encourage anyone with specific ideas about a residential rate plan that helps support EV charging to submit written comments or give oral testimony at the tech conference. Personally I think the nstar TOU rates are pretty good, but I understand that NGrid's program isn't fully open--which is a problem. I don't know what WMECO customers face. But do note that technical conferences are problem-solving sessions, not merely opportunities to air grievances.
     
  20. tga

    tga Active Member

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    I looked through the link you provided. This decision is a good thing, right? We don't want the state regulating who can install EVSE's, where, what they can (or must) charge, etc.

    Or did I miss your point?
     

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