A follow-up to: Watt’s Happenin’? Solar Power is Watt.
Well, the first bill in is. Not a bill for an entire month during which we generated solar power, but instructive nevertheless.
Our two solar panel installations officially went online about 1:00 p.m. on the afternoon of Thursday, May 17. Our May billing cycle ran from May 2 through June 5, and was divided into two separate and distinct bills to reflect our switchover to net metering.
During the period from May 2 until 1:00 p.m. on May 17, we used 429 kWh, which resulted in a charge of $47.68. From 1:00 p.m. May 17 through June 5, total net consumption was 71 kWh for which we were charged $12.93.
But a breakdown of this 19½-day period reveals an even more detailed picture of what actually transpired energy-wise: Our total net metering energy credit was 536 kWh. Household usage over this same time-frame was 607 kWh. Thus, we were billed for 71 kWh of energy. That means solar power generation covered 88% of our total energy bills from the time our solar panels went operational until the end of the May billing cycle.
How does all this compare with May of last year? Good question. In May of 2011 the billing cycle ran from May 4 through June 4. Total usage during that period was 1,094 kWh, for which our El Paso Electric Company bill ran $130.08. That means we used roughly the same amount of energy—1,094 kWh in 2011 vs 1,036 kWh for the same month in 2012—yet, our bill in 2012 was $60.61, or less than 47% of last year’s charge. And remember—that’s with us generating solar power for only 19 ½ days out of the entire 33-day billing cycle, or about 59% of the month.
That’s not the complete story, however. During that 19½ days we actually produced 970 kWh. Yet, net metering only credited us with 536 kWh. Thus, it appears that we only get credited about 55 kWh for every 100 kWh we put into the El Paso Electric Company power grid. I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be a 1-for-1 exchange with the electric company, but until now I didn’t know what the actual rate of return would be.
June will be the true test. That will be our first full billing cycle during which we generated solar power. June historically is also El Paso’s hottest month, and thus it is the month requiring the most extensive use of energy-intensive air conditioning. We’ve already had four days this June at or above 100°, and we’re anticipating triple-digit temperatures for six of the next seven days.
So, expect a more detailed cost-to-benefit analysis in about a month.