Wednesday, May 12, 2021

On PACE to Catch that Wave?

After buying his home here on Marco, Steve became concerned about the intermittent fluxuation and outages of our electricity grid and its potential to do damage to his electric devices. He found a protective alternative that not only eliminates those fluxuations but relegates the power grid to a backup role for his home. It will keep his home functioning while others worry about their food spoiling in their idle refrigerators or worse. Steve caught onto the Solar Power wave now, finally rising in Florida.     

Ironic that Florida is late catching a wave that started here. Photovoltaic electric panels were first deployed for use here over 70 years ago on satellites launched from Cape Canaveral. The basic science of PV, using photons to cause electrons to move hasn’t changed, but everything else around it has; efficiency, manufacturing cost, applications and reliability. Like our usual weather, many of those PV innovations came to us from the west coast. Many there buying into solar to save on their high electric bills and voting with their dollars to move away from the use of dirty fossil fuels and their volatile costs.   

For many here, going solar brings savings as well. Sunlight is clean, and its free cost is stable. Here’s the “but”, there is a cost to harness it. That upfront cost is determined by your demand for electricity. After adding up your last 12 electric bills, you size the system to match that usage, essentially reflecting your home’s energy efficiency and your use habits. Improved energy efficiency make sense here as it reduces the size and cost of the PV system. Why buy more just to waste it?

Property Assessed Clean Energy, aka PACE, provides an opportunity for convenient asset-based financing of such improvements. PACE has been adopted by the State of Florida, Collier County and the City of Naples and is awaiting Marco’s City Councilors’ consideration and approval. It makes zero down financing available repaid through your property tax bill as a non-ad valorem item. Its term can go for 20 years and not be due on sale, when your purchaser agrees to assume the obligation. There is no prepayment penalty and PACE in Florida can include other Storm Hardening improvements to your home as well.

When your PV system is installed LCEC replaces that one-way electric meter that has measured your consumption of inbound electricity with a bi-directional one. This implements Net Metering to capture the saving created by your PV system. When your system is generating more electricity than your household is using, it automatically sends, and measures, the excess electricity going out to the grid.  Running your meter backwards lowers your metered use of utility power. So, it goes daily, and at the end of the month your utility bill will reflect the total of those daily credit and debits. Seasonally the Sun set and rises predictably, presenting shorter or longer times of useful insolation which affects household use of electricity as well. At the end of the calendar year a final tally is struck. Designed right, your annual Net LCEC billed cost could be minimal. Under Net Metering you’re being paid retail value for your solar generated electricity as long as your annual total generated does not exceed what LCEC would have served you without solar. If you exceed that threshold, they pay only wholesale.   

But… the sunset every day! What happens then! Next time…

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