I just got back from the NABCEP 2018 CE Conference in beautiful Niagara Falls, NY. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP®) is a nonprofit professional certification and accreditation organization that offers both individual and company accreditation programs for photovoltaic system installers, solar heat installers, technical sales, and other renewable energy professionals throughout North America. NABCEP was officially incorporated in 2002 and its mission is to raise standards while promoting consumer and other stakeholders’ confidence within the renewable energy industry.
I was invited by NABCEP to speak about financial paybacks of residential systems beyond simple net metering. My presentation showed the differences in financial return for a residential customer if they installed a simple grid-tie only solar electric system versus one with equipped with an energy storage system. The results were quite interesting to see the differences in cost and financial return when adding an energy storage system. In California, utilities have moved over to NEM 2.0, also known as Net-Metering 2.0, this type of billing structure for a solar customer includes non-bypassable charges and a TOU (time of use) period from 4pm-9pm in which energy prices from the grid are higher than day time rates. Surprisingly, owning a PV system without energy storage provided the fastest pay back even though the PV system owner would have to pay higher prices for the energy they consume in the evening. The cost of energy storage currently is too high to provide a better return than just having solar panels on your roof even with the TOU rates being higher from 4pm to 9pm. Offering PV systems to customers has become more complicated compared with the NEM 1.0 with all the utility rate reforms, TOU rates and other fixed charges. Its important now to identify the needs of a customer early on in the sales process to determine they value in a PV system and why they want to go solar. A customer who is financially driven is better off with a simple PV system but someone who wants back-up power and independence from the utility would appreciate a system with energy storage system when though the pay back would be double compared to a simple grid-tie PV system. I've attached my presentation to this blog post. Feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions.