How is power sold to the POCOs? Solar today??

fastline

Senior Member
Location
midwest usa
I have several smaller projects coming up, but have realized that solar is becoming a big thing in our area and I have been tasked with asking some questions and determining "how", not "can I" sell power to the retailers? In recent times, our local power cooperative is apparently buying land and building solar farms! They are now in the "energy for profit" business! That seems odd since they were put in place to be an "at cost" provider for rural areas.

I want to know how to sell bigger power and where this conversation needs to go? What I suspect is big solar guys are working to lock others out through contracts. I know this because a friend is engaged with a potential 30yr lease for some of his ground. They apparently enter into a "purchase agreement" with the retailers.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
My thoughts and understandings for most situations is POCO may be willing to go with net metering setups where you are typically only reducing the peak demand but still normally have more consumed from utility then you put back in.

If you actually want to sell power to them on regular basis, I think most them want you to commit to a contract that specifies you will contribute X amount of power to the system on regular basis - this weeds out those that aren't all that committed and usually makes them go on somewhat large scale compared to those I mentioned first.

Keep in mind when it comes to managing the needs of the grid, they want suppliers they can depend on, and you will have serious terms to comply with if you want to play this game. Also the limitations of different alternate sources does present them with a desire to only depend on a certain amount of input from those sources. Wind stops blowing or cloudy days is not always going to be predictable or controllable compared to the reliability of coal, gas, nuclear sources but can help lessen dependency on those when the alternate is available to use.

And I may add that like any other industry, the players with biggest pockets do like to make it harder for competition to have a chance in about any way they can.
 

fastline

Senior Member
Location
midwest usa
I should be clear, the discussion is about selling power to the retailer on the regular. I do see this as quite a scam but want to examine it so people can be made aware. Retailers are used to controlling your energy bill. That is finally changing, but there are still many people that will never touch alt energy. I am not looking at a "net meter" arrangement, but serious commitments. I am certain big players are working to lock others out. If that is the case, I want to air that out with officials.

The government went to work 100yrs ago to ensure alcohol was taxed to the max, and I suspect that is coming for solar. lmao..... seriously, it will happen though.
 

jaggedben

Senior Member
Location
Northern California
Occupation
Solar and Energy Storage Installer
It's pretty unclear what exactly your asking. Broadly speaking solar installations fall into two categories; grid generator and 'behind the meter.'

Grid generation involves contracts similar to what utilities and grid operators make for other grid power plants. Solar is certainly cheap enough these days to compete with any other source, at least on a pure $/MWh basis (leaving aside dispatchability). However if you don't already work in the general field of power generation for the grid you probably have a very steep hill to climb.

'Behind the meter' is customer sited and usually (but not always) involves 'net metering.' For 'behind the meter' residential and commercial sites, numerous software products exist that will calculate financials. Find one that supports your location and application.

Beyond that, you really need to become at least somewhat familiar with the details of regulations in the particular state you want to install in, and with the particular utility you're interconnecting with. The website https://www.dsireusa.org/ is a half-decent resource for getting started with and finding organizations to ask further questions.
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
Location
-
Occupation
Engineer/Technician
How to sell power..

Step one. Call the POCO.
You will have to have a purchase agreement contract.
Cooperatives aren’t under the same obligations to net meter as IOUs.
We pay only avoided wholesale cost to solar providers.
Also, only a certain amount can be back fed to the utility.

On our system the solar company or individual wanting to sell large power must have an engineering study done at his expense. Any and all expenditures to accommodate the sale of Solar is the sellers burden.
As far as how much, it’s good to say “I have 200 acres I want to put solar on”. But much more than 10 acres ~ 5MW will be too large for most distribution circuits to handle (~200A) as utilities look unfavorably to back feeding through a station transformer onto the transmission grid. Creates some problems with faults and invertor shutdown.

One close to here was 243 acres. It was $90,000,000 in 2015.
It was transmission connected (115kV)
I have the utility commissions contract...

Homeowner scale is easier and isn’t a problem as long as we know about it.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
Just to repeat, these sorts of rules vary from state to state.
Very much so. Some states require POCO's to buy all the solar that's available at a pretty hefty feed in tariff, others not so much. First call should probably be to the state Public Utilities Commission, or whatever entity POCO's have to go in front of to justify their rates/tariffs.
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
Location
-
Occupation
Engineer/Technician
Just to repeat, these sorts of rules vary from state to state.
Correct, thank you...

To add to that... utilities are finding out that net metering is turning out to be a “wash” as far as money is concerned.
When the cost of peaking power is factored in over the course of a year no one “loses” money.
 

fastline

Senior Member
Location
midwest usa
Here is the general thought. The local Coop are generally just a PITA mostly due to their management. For this reason, a large privately owned solar array is going in to serve a large property. However, this might be looked at differently if the Coop is open to buying power. The array was not going to be that big, but could be expanded to around 1MW, but that is probably max.

The reality in the area is "net meter" was quickly screwed over for "banking KWH" which just helps small people. If we build out this larger array, we are looking for financial compensation. I do realize the red tape is thick and the big players want to make it ridiculous to get in. I do realize there comes a point where energy contribution can just be more than the infrastructure can handle or need. The target installation is actually at the very "end of the line" so feeding that point could help reinforce rather than supplement.

I do realize there seems to be only 2 types of grid tie. Tiny home owners where they likely will never see a dime for their contribution. And commercial providers where "massive" comes too mind. 1MW is not all that big and can easily hide in the country and enough of those can certainly give redundancy to the grid, while being silent and neighbor friendly. That is our intent here!
 

jaggedben

Senior Member
Location
Northern California
Occupation
Solar and Energy Storage Installer
Here is the general thought. The local Coop are generally just a PITA mostly due to their management. For this reason, a large privately owned solar array is going in to serve a large property. However, this might be looked at differently if the Coop is open to buying power. The array was not going to be that big, but could be expanded to around 1MW, but that is probably max.

...
Between asking the co-op directly and finding any solar advocacy groups to help you make your best case, you may work towards what is really possible. Be prepared to put some time into it.

I do realize there seems to be only 2 types of grid tie. Tiny home owners where they likely will never see a dime for their contribution. And commercial providers where "massive" comes too mind. 1MW is not all that big and can easily hide in the country and enough of those can certainly give redundancy to the grid, while being silent and neighbor friendly. That is our intent here!
Again, and not to be too much of a broken record, but it depends where you are. There are some places where homeowners have been saving gobs of money with solar and others where it hasn't been made possible.
 

fastline

Senior Member
Location
midwest usa
It does seem like having a convo with state officials might be the first move. I know the local Coop and they are usually less than helpful. The man in charge now is an EE and licensed electron, so he does know what is going on, but we got into it yrs ago about certain motors being on their grid but he would not concede that with a VFD and smooth ramp time, he could not tell the difference. We left that convo with "you only want a 10hp motor on the line, but let me just throw a 100hp on your line with a VFD and lets see if you can spot it"...lol Honestly the harmonics could spot a VFD, but not that motor.

Anyway, we only have one provider in this area. They are less "progressive" than others but I guess they are also investing in solar right now so maybe they "see the light"......lmfao.......just entertaining myself......

I am looking at this install as an entrance to storage which I am hoping will open some doors. We all know solar+storage is key. We need that.
 
Correct me if I'm wrong,, but don't you have a choice of who you sell the power to? I believe it is called a take-off, and that's a big part of the business is finding out who will pay top dollar for your solar energy. For several years I worked on a bunch of 1-5 megawatt systems for several solar companies. Building these things is the easy part, it's the business end that is the hard part in my opinion.
 

Carultch

Senior Member
Location
Massachusetts
Correct me if I'm wrong,, but don't you have a choice of who you sell the power to? I believe it is called a take-off.
Offtakers is the word you are looking for. I.e. the customers who virtually get assigned the kilowatts and/or kilowatt-hours your system produced. Takeoff is the term in estimating.

The actual energy simply follows Ohm's and Kirchhoff's laws through the distribution feeders to find its way to the site's immediate neighbors who consume it as it is produced. You can't really control where the energy really goes, but the assignment of credit is what you can control.
 
Offtakers is the word you are looking for. I.e. the customers who virtually get assigned the kilowatts and/or kilowatt-hours your system produced. Takeoff is the term in estimating.

The actual energy simply follows Ohm's and Kirchhoff's laws through the distribution feeders to find its way to the site's immediate neighbors who consume it as it is produced. You can't really control where the energy really goes, but the assignment of credit is what you can control.
Thanks, I was close!

Of course, but under the new-ish deregulation model, on paper you are selling the power to pretty much whoever wants to buy it. Granted the local POCO has to "move" the energy. I don't know how the user / buyer and local power company split up the pie.
 

jaggedben

Senior Member
Location
Northern California
Occupation
Solar and Energy Storage Installer
For example, take a look at this link. there is no discussion of a power company, and I don't understand how they could not be a party in this:

There may be a 'wheeling' cost that needs to be paid to whoever owns the lines between the producer and the offtaker. Not that I know anything about it besides what I've found with search engines.
 

brantmacga

Señor Member
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrical Monke
I know this because a friend is engaged with a potential 30yr lease for some of his ground. They apparently enter into a "purchase agreement" with the retailers.
Please ask your friend to consult with a 3rd party on the details of their lease agreement.

Two years ago, my cousin leased 800 acres of his farm for a solar installation, and the operator has a 10 year walk away clause in the contract. That is, if in 10 years the panels are not producing enough electricity to justify the maintenance, they can abandon it. The county also gave them 10 years of tax breaks. They agreed to put $1MM in escrow for cleanup if they walk away. I have a friend that recently retired as the president of the power division for one of the largest engineering & construction firms in the world that specializes in solar and gas. He told me the $1MM won’t come close to what’s required to completely remove the installation.


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fastline

Senior Member
Location
midwest usa
Thank you! I agree 100% as I have dealt with oil/gas leases and they like to leave things out such as site rehab. In this case they are only leasing about 40 acres, but I told him to get me the lease and get his atty involved. It sounds like a 30yr with option to reup another 10yrs twice. I told him to watch the language on that reup because the land value may be much higher and would justify renegotiating. This is in the heart of an industrial park.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Please ask your friend to consult with a 3rd party on the details of their lease agreement.

Two years ago, my cousin leased 800 acres of his farm for a solar installation, and the operator has a 10 year walk away clause in the contract. That is, if in 10 years the panels are not producing enough electricity to justify the maintenance, they can abandon it. The county also gave them 10 years of tax breaks. They agreed to put $1MM in escrow for cleanup if they walk away. I have a friend that recently retired as the president of the power division for one of the largest engineering & construction firms in the world that specializes in solar and gas. He told me the $1MM won’t come close to what’s required to completely remove the installation.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
What is $1MM? to me that appears to be 1 million, times 1 million - a 1 and twelve zeros following it.

Google search for MM mostly comes up with millimeters though it shouldn't be capitalized letters for that use or a couple other units of length depending on which letter is capitalized.
 

brantmacga

Señor Member
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrical Monke
What is $1MM? to me that appears to be 1 million, times 1 million - a 1 and twelve zeros following it.

Google search for MM mostly comes up with millimeters though it shouldn't be capitalized letters for that use or a couple other units of length depending on which letter is capitalized.
MM = million in finance


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