A buy all sell all arrangement of metering renewable energy seems to be one of the more popular ways of metering solar power and wind power these days. But what is it? How does it work? Is is right for me?
What is Buy all Sell all?
Buy all sell all is a way for small scale renewable energy producers to connect back into the grid. This typically uses a two meter setup. One meter measures what customers are consuming and the other measures what they are producing. It is pretty simple really.
How does it work?
As stated, in a buy all sell all arrangement two meters are typically employed. Normally when we think about renewable energy we think about solar panels on someone’s roof. This is accurate but often times customers think that as soon as they put the solar panels on the roof their power bill will go down. While this can be the case in a net metering arrangement it is not the case in a buy all sell all arrangement.
Surprising to some is that in a typical buy all sell all arrangement the normal electric bill does not change. This may be confusing. But what we are saying by buy all sell all is that we are going to buy all of the power that we use from the power company as usual. Then, all of the power that our solar panels or wind turbines produce will be sold back to the utility.
One of the easiest ways to think about it is if the solar panels or wind turbines were physically located in another state. You are still producing the power but it does not reduce your bill.
On your power be you will get something like an avoided cost credit. This is paid at a predetermined rate set by the utility. Normally it is close to the wholesale rate they pay. So, if you pay $0.10 per Kwh they may pay you $0.05 per Kwh. This means that you are not getting the retail rate paid back to you.
Is a Buy all Sell all Arrangement Right for You?
If it is the only option available then yes. If net metering is available then it is probably a better option as you can trade retail Kwh per retail Kwh. Before agreeing to either or you need to make sure that you read your rates very carefully to make sure they make perfect sense to you.
Renewable energy metering can be confusing. You have buy all sell all and you have net metering. But which on is right depends on your circumstances and what is available from your utility.
Net metering is often times a confusing topic for many. But, it does not have to be. Many people try to make it more complicated than it really is. Here I want to define what net metering is. I also want to talk a little bit about how it pertains to renewable energy. Finally I want to help you decide if net metering is right for you.
What is Net Metering?
Net metering is used when some form of generation is used on the same service where power is being consumed. Confusing right? As always, I want to use an example. First, let’s talk about the term “net”. To net something out means to subtract what is used from the whole amount. For example, if you had $100 worth of sales but you had $45 worth of expenses then you netted $55. The same thing works with net metering. If you are generating power, be it from a generator, solar panels or wind turbines etc., and you are putting that power back onto the grid we need a way to calculate what you consumed versus what you produced.
Net metering typically uses one meter. Using a traditional electro-mechanical meter you can actually watch the disc turn backwards when you are producing more than you are consuming. This is an analog way of doing the math for you. When you are consuming more than you are producing the meter turns the correct way. When you are producing more than you are consuming the meter turns backwards.
Net Metering and Renewable Energy
I could not talk about net metering and not mention the role it plays in renewable energy metering. Most likely the first thing that popped into you head when you read the words “net metering” was solar power. So, is solar power metered with net metering? The answer is yes. This was the most common way to meter solar power. It is easier to do from a billing stand point and can be less work all together. With other types of renewable energy metering separate billing accounts need to be set up for credits and it can be very confusing. Using one meter however, allows you to read the same meter just like you did every month. As far as billing goes it looks like the customer is using less every month.
However, not all utilities offer net metering tariffs. That is unfortunate because from a customer’s view it is really the best of options for feed in tariffs. This is because you are trading retail Kwh for retail Kwh. What I mean is that if the rate that you pay for electricity is $0.10 per Kwh every Kwh that you avoid because of your solar panels or wind turbine reduces your power bill by $0.10 per each Kwh you produce.
Is Net Metering Right for Me?
It depends. If it is an option that is available to you from your utility then it is most likely the best option. There are many things to consider with the different rates that may be available but generally speaking, net metering is usually the best option.
Are you planning on trying to produce more than you consume? Many utilities protect themselves against this by making sure that they limit the size of your renewable energy service. They pay wholesale rates for electricity so why would they want to pay you retail for what you produce?
In conclusion, I hope this dispels the net metering confusion that is floating around out there. Normally one meter is used in this arrangement. This type of metering provides a simple and easy way for utilities and customers to enjoy the benefits of renewable energy systems. Also, if it is available where you are it is most likely the best option for you.
Solar water heaters can be a very useful way to saving money on your power bill. A water heater alone can easily cost a family of two $20-$40 dollars per month. Now think if you have a larger family what that could cost you throughout the year.
Heating your water by the sun is not a new concept. Back in the 1970’s there was a big push to conserve energy by heating your water with the sun. It however did not last very long. There are a few different types of solar water heaters out there. They can be as simple as laying a garden hose in the sun to a full enclosed system that uses a heat exchanger to transfer the heat from a liquid that does not freeze to the water.
The system that you decide on depends upon your location. If you live in a warm climate where it never or very rarely has freezing temperatures then you can go wth one of the more simple systems where the sun directly heats the water. The basics of the system include the solar water panel, some pipe and an old water heater. This is my favorite system because you can utilize your old water heater as a backup in case it is cloudy and there is not sufficient sun to heat the water. The old water heater also acts as a storage tank for the hot water and keeps it hot and ready for whenever you need it.
If you live in a climate that sees freezing and below freezing temperatures, you will need to go with a system that uses an antifreeze type of liquid just like your car so the water in the system does not freeze. You would also be wise to utilize your old water heater as a backup for when there are clouds or if the panels are covered in snow. You can also use the old water heater as a hot water storage tank using this method as well.
One of the best thing about solar water heaters is that they do not need electricity to run! This not only will save you money on your power bill but it will also allow you to take hot showers when there is no power! Imagine that there is a storm that comes through while you are at work and the power is out. You will still be able to take a hot shower.
Another advantage to having a solar water heater is that once you have it installed you are one step closer to being off the grid. In my opinion, this should be one of your first things to consider before going off the grid. Before you go and install $30,000 worth of electric solar panels on your house, put a solar water heater up there and start saving right away. It is also more efficient to heat your water with the sun than it is to power your old electric water heater by the electric solar panels you are thinking about putting up. This is because there are always losses with electricity. There will be losses due to heat, wire and electronics. This means that you are better off to heat your water with the sun first. This also means that you can save some money on the electric solar panels because the load that they will need to carry will not be as great. Electric water heaters can typically pull anywhere between 1500 and 4500 watts. This is 1500 to 4500 watts that you will not need to buy solar panels for.