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Save extra solar kWh you produce for your EV

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If your utility offers a rollover option for extra kWh you produce with a home solar system, you should take that option when you sign on the dotted line for your solar system.

editors-blog-entry3Imagine producing 900 kWh of extra solar electricity with your grid-tied home solar system – and getting a big, “fat” check for $26 from your utility for pumping out all of that extra clean electricity.

That’s how many extra kWh a friend of mine in Colorado Xcel Energy territory generated with a 6.6 kW solar system in 2010 and how much money Xcel gave him for his excess production.

That’s about 3 cents per kWh. Meanwhile, Xcel charges its electric customers 11 cents per kWh.

Had my friend opted for the kWh rollover option Xcel offers Solar Rewards customers such as himself – and us – his 900 kWh would have been worth around $100 worth of electricity.

And, if you are planning on getting an electric car? Well, you’ll make out a helluva lot better – perhaps to the tune of oh, say, 16 times better, if you roll over your extra kWh and save them to fuel your future EV!

And, since he’s going to be getting an electric car in the future, it’s fair to do the gasoline-replacement math on those 900 kWh, which, again, netted him just $26 from Xcel. Sorry to be repetitive, but I just had to note this figure a second time because it’s just so, well, incredibly tiny, paltry, miniscule, ridiculous!

Doing the gasoline replacement math
Let’s take $3 a gallon – although respectable financial media outlets such as Forbes are now saying $4 gasoline is a very real possibility in the near-term future, 25 m.p.g. and 4 miles per kWh as our baseline figures, and start crunching away!

  • 900 kWh x 4 = 3,600 miles of solar electric driving (what we like to call Sun Miles®)
  • 3,600 ÷ 25 m.p.g. = 144 gallons of gasoline
  • 144 x $3 = $432

So, what would you rather have in your pocket, a $26 check from Xcel Energy, or $432 worth of gasoline replacement money?

Yeah, I kind of figured you’d say the $432.

Pick the kWh rollover option!
The moral of the story: When signing on the dotted line for a grid-tied home solar system in the U.S., if your utility offers a rollover option for extra kWh -- which, Xcel does, although the default option for Solar Rewards customers is, you guessed it, end-of-year payout – take the rollover option!

[Qualifier: I’m not trying to make my friend feel bad for taking the payout option. He didn’t think he’d be producing any extra kWh, so it didn’t seem to matter much which option he chose a year ago. Instead, I’m just trying to help others who could benefit from rolling over extra kWh their solar system produces annually.]

Even if you don’t end up getting an electric car, you’re still likely to make out better*, perhaps a lot better, by choosing a utility rollover option (again, if your utility offers this option – read the fine print!) and using your extra kWh later -- perhaps for central AC, or, maybe for that Jacuzzi you’ve always wanted.

And, if you are planning on getting an electric car? Well, you’ll make out a helluva lot better – perhaps to the tune of oh, say, 16 times better, if you roll over your extra kWh and save them to fuel your future EV!

*If you live where your utility offers Time of Use (TOU) – which basically means different rates are charged to electric users and paid out to home solar producers based on the particular time of day electricity is used or produced, taking annual extra kWh produced option might not be your best option.

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