We now have more than four months of experience operating the solar array at NWREC—and everything is working. We have daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly data available. Visit Solar City's website to see the electrical energy we are producing with the array.
Our monthly electrical consumption is approximately 20,000 kWh and during March, April and May, our array produced more between 23,000 and 35,000 kWh—considerable more than we needed.
All excess power goes back into the grid and we receive credit for it that can be used during lower production months. We believe we will see at least six or seven months each year when we are producing more power that we need—and, therefore, banking for future use.
At NWREC, we pay two bills. One to Solar City—the owner of our array and who is responsible for all the operations and maintenance. Also, we pay a bill to our utility company—PGE—for our line/meter charges and any power we need that we cannot produce with the solar system.
Thus, we pay Solar City 4.4¢/kWh for the power we generate with the array—which ends up being a lot in the summer months. The array panels are especially efficient right now when they are new. But, the 4.4¢ rate is less than half of the standard commercial rate and is fixed for the next 20 years on our contract agreement—so, a very nice deal that will only get nicer in the years ahead. And, the PGE bills we are getting are now only for meter and line charges. All the power is being off-set by the array.
The bottom line that is projected during the course of a billing year throughout all seasons—is that we expect to reduce our annual electrical bills by about 50% or $10-50,000.
Keep watching the website data records mentioned above to see how we are doing.
Finally, you now may notice the sheep grazing under the array panels. This is our latest addition to the community. We have three sheep grazing for the summer to utilize the grass growing on the site. We are looking at developing bee pollinator habitat for the array in 2015. But, for now, we like the idea of grazing as a way to manage the vegetation on the site.