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Significantly delayed solar project. What should I do?

stonefocus

Member
Apr 7, 2020
47
5
Sunnyvale, CA
Hello all,

I made an order last year September, so it's been about 6 months.
Technician visited my place and took a look existing system.
They said Main Panel should be upgraded to 200A. And they will get a permit from electricity company (PG&E)

I am located in Bay Area and electricity company is PG&E
That's where I am stuck at. I tried to communicate with Tesla multiple times, they have been saying "We are waiting" for several months.

What should I do? Is there anything I can expedite?
It's been enough of waiting and my patience is running out. Should I give up with Tesla and look for other company?
 

Vines

Active Member
Jul 20, 2018
2,052
2,380
Silicon Valley, CA
Hello all,

I made an order last year September, so it's been about 6 months.
Technician visited my place and took a look existing system.
They said Main Panel should be upgraded to 200A. And they will get a permit from electricity company (PG&E)

I am located in Bay Area and electricity company is PG&E
That's where I am stuck at. I tried to communicate with Tesla multiple times, they have been saying "We are waiting" for several months.

What should I do? Is there anything I can expedite?
It's been enough of waiting and my patience is running out. Should I give up with Tesla and look for other company?
Tesla seems to have this problem where customers occasionally slip through the cracks of the process and the homeowner is left either managing the project themselves, or waiting till when Tesla breaks it breaks free. Some who are proactive have spent some time calling and they will get things moving again.

Other smaller companies will try harder for your business and if you are buying 3 Powerwalls or more will be able to get the large scale SGIP incentives, bringing the price closer to Teslas. Nobody will be as cheap as Tesla. Those incentives are dwindling though, so get moving. There is about 22 million left in step 4 funds. If you need a recommendation for an installer, PM me.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
2,125
1,508
East Bay NorCal
I'm 99% sure you're running into one of the serious problems I ran into on my project.

In my case, I had an old 200A main panel that had to become a new 200A "solar ready" main panel. Sunrun was my installer and submitted a work order with PG&E to approve a service disconnect so they could put in a new main service panel.

First, PG&E had routed the application to the wrong team in the local Planning department. Simple enough... I got my application re-routed.

Then, they bickered over whether the service coming to my house was 125A, 150A or 200A. PG&E's own line diagram for my specific neighborhood and house were inconsistent, and they didn't know the gauge cable underground of my house that was coming up to my PG&E meter. They had to send someone to my house to visually inspect what size service I had to determine if I was already 200A (easy peasy) or needed a service upgrade 150A to 200A (OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive).

After that, they bickered over whether this was simply a replacement of a "like for like" main panel. Newer building codes prohibit electrical items from sitting within 36 inches (measured square; not a radius) from the natural gas riser. Im my situation, the gas riser was sitting within 3 feet of my old main service panel since the code allowed that back when my house was constructed. The "like for like" provision allows a homeowner to replace their old main panel with a new main panel (say... 200A with a 200A) so long as they don't make the situation "less safe". This means they cannot move the main panel closer to the meter, and they cannot over-size the main panel compared to the previous panel. This is to allow reasonable projects without the homeowner having to pay the hefty costs to move the aperture that the main service resides and extend the big ol cables from PG&E to reach this new location.

The internal bickering at PG&E is whether or not going solar with batteries is considered an "upgrade" in all instances. Some people at PG&E think solar is a luxury item, so replacing a main service panel to allow a solar project is not within the scope of "like for like." These folks also believe that requiring the expensive lift-and-shift for the main service panel is the brass tax people need to pay to go green and "do things right." They insist the like for like program was only meant for a homeowner to replace old equipment because of age and damage; not to enhance their home.

I had to take it upon myself and work directly with PG&E on a solution. The corporations (Sunrun or Tesla) simply aren't equipped to handle this type of problem solving at the client-level. The corporate solution is to simply ask you to pay out the wazoooo for the upgrade, or just cancel your order. Assuming you actually want to move forward and this main panel is your obstacle, then you've got to do the work to unblock it... or find a different installer. Smaller shops tend to provide better service because they're more agile and motivated. Of course, a terrible small shop will still be terrible, so you'll still need to take care.

I wrote this up for reference on this specific topic in PG&E's area:

In summary, you need to determine if you really are getting a "main panel upgrade" or if it's more like a "main panel replacement."

The replacement is where you already have 200A service and a 200A main panel, but they're putting in a new 200A panel that is newer and more ready for the solar/batteries you may be getting. the like for like should apply if you're stubborn enough and it'll save you a lot of money.

It's hairier if your service is really being upgraded from 125A to 200A. If this is the case, then you will not qualify for the "like for like" provision since the upgraded service is deemed to be "less safe" due to the extra power involved.
 
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SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,185
9,913
SF Bay Area
Until your main panel upgrade happens, Tesla won’t be able to install solar or PWs. I’m guessing this delay is more one caused by Tesla not doing MPUs themselves but contracting out the work with a limited number of electricians qualified to do the work so booked out into the future placing you at the mercy of the availability of that third-party team. That was our case last year back in March. Tesla could schedule our solar for end of March but it couldn’t happen until MPU work was completed.

We asked Tesla if we could have own our electrician pull a permit for it and do the work sooner and get us moving faster on an install date. They were amenable to that and that’s what we did. Covid delayed our electrician but did so with their guys as well so still feel we did the right thing in our case. Work took a few days including tear out, rewiring and stucco flashing and stucco layers. Tesla cancelled out our separate contract for MPU at their end; and after passing final inspection, we notified them of that and got on their scheduled install list.

Our electrician and the stucco guy actually ran us a bit more with permit but by that point we just wanted that required work done so we could get in line for the scheduling of the panels and Powerwalls.

If you go with your own electrician for this stage, be sure he’s done this type of work before. And definitely keep Tesla in the loop. If you want a referral, PM me and I can give you our electricians contact info—we’re Bay area too. Did good work and no problems passing inspection. Had a stucco guy he worked with who also did good work. I know he’s working on a house right now and then updating our NEMA 14-50 outlet to a heavier duty commercial quality one for our car charging. Beyond that not sure of his schedule.
 
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holeydonut

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
2,125
1,508
East Bay NorCal
Until your main panel upgrade happens, Tesla won’t be able to install solar or PWs. I’m guessing this delay is more one caused by Tesla not doing MPUs themselves but contracting out the work with a limited number of electricians ...

But it's like way more fun to blame PG&E. And I naturally assume PG&E is at fault for everything... because they were in my case :p
 
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stonefocus

Member
Apr 7, 2020
47
5
Sunnyvale, CA
Until your main panel upgrade happens, Tesla won’t be able to install solar or PWs. I’m guessing this delay is more one caused by Tesla not doing MPUs themselves but contracting out the work with a limited number of electricians qualified to do the work so booked out into the future placing you at the mercy of the availability of that third-party team. That was our case last year back in March. Tesla could schedule our solar for end of March but it couldn’t happen until MPU work was completed.

We asked Tesla if we could have own our electrician pull a permit for it and do the work sooner and get us moving faster on an install date. They were amenable to that and that’s what we did. Covid delayed our electrician but did so with their guys as well so still feel we did the right thing in our case. Work took a few days including tear out, rewiring and stucco flashing and stucco layers. Tesla cancelled out our separate contract for MPU at their end; and after passing final inspection, we notified them of that and got on their scheduled install list.

Our electrician and the stucco guy actually ran us a bit more with permit but by that point we just wanted that required work done so we could get in line for the scheduling of the panels and Powerwalls.

If you go with your own electrician for this stage, be sure he’s done this type of work before. And definitely keep Tesla in the loop. If you want a referral, PM me and I can give you our electricians contact info—we’re Bay area too. Did good work and no problems passing inspection. Had a stucco guy he worked with who also did good work. I know he’s working on a house right now and then updating our NEMA 14-50 outlet to a heavier duty commercial quality one for our car charging. Beyond that not sure of his schedule.
Thanks! PMed you
 

SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,185
9,913
SF Bay Area
I answered @stonefocus but thought I’d mention here that if you’re getting an electrician to upgrade your MP now would be a good time for him to also pull a permit to add an outlet for EV charging or install a HPWC. As some on here found out not easy or sometimes possible to do after your solar/PW is installed. Hiring your own electrician also allows you to specify the exact equipment (panel box, breakers) you’ll be getting.
 

airboyd

Member
Sep 10, 2020
29
8
Southern California
Hello all,

I made an order last year September, so it's been about 6 months.
Technician visited my place and took a look existing system.
They said Main Panel should be upgraded to 200A. And they will get a permit from electricity company (PG&E)

I am located in Bay Area and electricity company is PG&E
That's where I am stuck at. I tried to communicate with Tesla multiple times, they have been saying "We are waiting" for several months.

What should I do? Is there anything I can expedite?
It's been enough of waiting and my patience is running out. Should I give up with Tesla and look for other company?
That sounds about right for current orders.

I ordered 2 Powerwalls July 2020 and needed my 175 upgraded to 200.

That pretty much ground the project to a halt.

Designs were ready in October 2020.

Permits for the project were approved in December 2020 and the panel upgrade actually happened this week, end of March 2021.

Took 4 guys 10 hours to rebuild it all and install the Gateway and that included the service disconnect and connect and preliminary inspection.

Waiting on final permits...and the Powerwalls.
 
Last edited:

stonefocus

Member
Apr 7, 2020
47
5
Sunnyvale, CA
That sounds about right for current orders.

I ordered 2 Powerwalls July 2020 and needed my 175 upgraded to 200.

That pretty much ground the project to a halt.

Designs were ready in October 2020.

Permits for the project were approved in December 2020 and the panel upgrade actually happened this week, end of March 2021.

Took 4 guys 10 hours to rebuild it all and install the Gateway and that included the service disconnect and connect and preliminary inspection.

Waiting on final permits...and the Powerwalls.
How did you get the permit? Did Tesla take care of it or you should do something on your end?
Designs are ready for me, but PG&E is what blocks this project.
 

airboyd

Member
Sep 10, 2020
29
8
Southern California
Wow that is a crazy amount of work for just 25 amps! Were you maxed out on your load calcs or something?
It's all theoretical amps...

Each Powerwall is 30 amps plus the 60 amps from the solar system and you're already at 120 amps.

Throw in air conditioning 50 amps, pool equipment 60 amp sub, and a Nema plug in the garage for charging and it adds up quickly before you even add in the rest of the house lighting, sockets, oven, fridge etc...
How did you get the permit? Did Tesla take care of it or you should do something on your end?
Designs are ready for me, but PG&E is what blocks this project.
Tesla did it. There's a huge period of non-communication, but I was able to get an email update when I asked about once a month. I was also able to get a PDF of the project and wire diagram which helped a lot. I don't think Tesla thinks about the fact that you're sitting at home and hearing nothing for months on end.

I'm with SDGE and they actually sent me a login after Tesla applied so that I could follow along. SDGE has the same COVID issues as everyone else and is backed up, but they got through my plans pretty quickly once they started looking at them. 5 months from order to permit approval then another 3 for the work to begin. I tried to get involved with SDGE early but they said their hands were tied until Tesla submitted.

It's a bit weird ordering this and not hearing something for months, but so far I've been impressed with the people they sent. It just took a long time and was very, very quiet...
 
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g5mY

Member
Oct 2, 2020
31
11
San Jose
I had another thread on my solar panels. Ordered in mid February; always thought I needed a MPU since I have a single switch 100 amp main. About 50% of the other companies said that I needed the upgrade. Tesla assessment team came by a couple weeks ago and said the same thing, that I would need a main panel upgrade since no room for the solar breaker.

A couple days later, I got a text that my install was scheduled that week. I called Tesla and asked them about the MPU, but they said that I won't need one and they'll work around it.

System was installed two weeks ago; they put a sub panel near main panel that they tied the inverter into. City of San Jose passed it the week after. PGE gave me PTO yesterday (a week after the inspection).

I was expecting in needing the MPU upgrade and told the same, but Tesla went ahead and it's fully operational. Getting my first full day of generation today.
 
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cobra

Member
Feb 8, 2021
184
34
Lansdale, PA, USA
I had another thread on my solar panels. Ordered in mid February; always thought I needed a MPU since I have a single switch 100 amp main. About 50% of the other companies said that I needed the upgrade. Tesla assessment team came by a couple weeks ago and said the same thing, that I would need a main panel upgrade since no room for the solar breaker.

A couple days later, I got a text that my install was scheduled that week. I called Tesla and asked them about the MPU, but they said that I won't need one and they'll work around it.

System was installed two weeks ago; they put a sub panel near main panel that they tied the inverter into. City of San Jose passed it the week after. PGE gave me PTO yesterday (a week after the inspection).

I was expecting in needing the MPU upgrade and told the same, but Tesla went ahead and it's fully operational. Getting my first full day of generation today.
Nice. Any powerwalls? Mind sharing size of your system? If your loads aren't changing in the house and not adding a EV charge circuit then this is reasonable, if they can add all the solar components in the sub panel and feed your existing panel from it.
 

g5mY

Member
Oct 2, 2020
31
11
San Jose
Nice. Any powerwalls? Mind sharing size of your system? If your loads aren't changing in the house and not adding a EV charge circuit then this is reasonable, if they can add all the solar components in the sub panel and feed your existing panel from it.
No powerwalls, which probably simplifies the project. I installed my own wall charger in one of my subpanel a couple months ago, but have always known that I can't charge and have other major appliances running or I'll trip the main. I always charge in the middle of the night, so hasn't been a problem. It's a 8kW system.
 
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airboyd

Member
Sep 10, 2020
29
8
Southern California
Main Panel Upgrade finaled yesterday. Tesla contacted me today, as soon as they had the final permit, and Powerwalls come in 2 weeks. I get my solar connected back that day, but they said to expect 13 weeks for the Powerwalls to be activated (PTO). That will put my total project at about 13 months from start to finish, with the MPU being the main sticking point.
 
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Southpasfan

Member
Jun 2, 2019
462
587
Pasadena
Main Panel Upgrade finaled yesterday. Tesla contacted me today, as soon as they had the final permit, and Powerwalls come in 2 weeks. I get my solar connected back that day, but they said to expect 13 weeks for the Powerwalls to be activated (PTO). That will put my total project at about 13 months from start to finish, with the MPU being the main sticking point.
You will undoubtedly need to do quite a bit of "testing" after you get your PWs installed so that when PTO comes you will be confident in how the system works. :)

One poster from Florida I seem to recall did about four months of testing. You know, can't be too sure.
 
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