Here’s what we’re pursuing (don’t know if we’ll be able to pull it off): We may be able to entice a solar company to own and manage our electrical distribution system. What does that mean?
- The public utility, Eversource, would supply power to a single meter for the community. The solar company would pay for and own the electrical distribution system from that meter to all the buildings, as well as solar panels on all buildings (all the homes and the common house to start, with the possibility of solar-roof carports too). They would be responsible for maintenance and repair of the system.
- The system would incorporate battery storage as well as smart controls connected to our HVAC systems and our major appliances. This would allow the company to manage peak demand to minimize the rate they would be paying Eversource for power.
- The solar company would sell the solar-generated power back to Eversource. We would pay for all the electricity we use, with a small discount. So as homeowners we would not be saving a great deal of money on electricity every month. However, we would not have paid for our solar panels, and we would have saved tens of thousands of dollars on the initial construction.
- HERE’S THE KICKER. In the event of an area power outage, which can typically last for days in Bethany, we would have continuous power to our homes. For individually owned solar systems like those you see scattered in residential neighborhoods, this isn’t possible. When the grid goes down, your solar system is turned off. But for the system being proposed for Rocky Corner, the battery storage and the load management software would enable us to keep the lights and heat on.
Bottom line, the tradeoff is that instead of buying a $20,000 solar system yourself and then hopefully paying for it with reduced power bills, you would be paying nothing for the system and getting a token discount on your power bill. But the big benefit is the protection against power outages.
Wish us luck.