14 December 2011

Why Seattle Isn't a Leader in Solar Energy

I've been planning to do a big post about how our new solar panels are working out, but we still haven't received our first bill. (It's nearly a month late -- I suspect that the city's billing software can't handle the negative number resulting from by the surplus we generated -- and believe me, the city's customer service folks find it pretty weird when someone calls to demand their bill....)

So I can't lay all the numbers on the table for you, except to say that, during the first month, we generated somewhere in the neighborhood of 700-800 kilowatt hours, and about 200 of those went back into the grid as excess. On our best day (in October, by no means the longest or sunniest day of the year), we generated 33 kWh (more on that here)...but lately, well, things haven't been looking so bright.

Which brings us to the Seattle reference in the title. This is a 33 kWh day:



And this was today (in Texas, but probably also most days in Seattle):



Cloudy, grey, and rainy. Today we only generated 2.55 kWh. And 4.18 kWh yesterday. And 2.61 the day before that. We've used about 100 kWh of that surplus we generated last month (which, due to quirks in the way the city gives credits for excess solar, won't be free). At least we're making a dent (albeit ever so slight) in the drought.

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