Monday, January 14, 2013

The Answer is Grid-Tie

I spoke to Curt Snyder from Crest Solar in Keesville this morning.  My head was starting to swim, evaluating off-grid, grid-tie, or just grid.  I needed to bounce ideas off of someone with hands on experience.

My discussions with National Grid weren't good, as I wrote earlier.  They won't run service until construction starts, they said, and then it could take as long as five months to get it.  That irked me, to say the least, and I got it in my head to go off-grid just to spite them.

Curt at Crest Solar was a huge help here.  Without going into all the details, at this latitude, going off-grid doesn't make financial sense unless you're running power lines for a mile or more.  A 7 KW solar array, installed and connected to the grid (no batteries), is about $26,000.  There is a $10,500 rebate from NYSERDA that comes off the top, making it $15,500, but it has to be grid-tie.  There's no rebates if it's off-grid.

So to be tied to the grid, I have to run a power line 500 feet from the pole in my driveway to the house.  While National Grid wants $15,000 to do that, I figured I could do it myself for a fraction of that.  I called Nick at to get an idea of what I need for 150 amp service.  First, he said I'd need to talk to a licensed electrician to get a recommendation, but then said I'd most likely need TC-ER 1/3 underground tray cable which would cost about $6,000.   Yikes!  But still better than $15,000.

Of course, since we're not going to have an electric stove, hot water heater, or clothes dryer, we don't need 150 amp service. If we go as low as 60 amp service, the power line would cost a lot less.

National Grid has to buy the power my array would generate at full retail prices.  Curt said that the PV system should generate enough excess power during spring, summer, and fall to earn enough credits to pay for the usage through the winter.  Our only electric bill would be the delivery charge, which, by the way, seems to be all over the map.

So at this point, if we're connecting to the grid, we can wait until the house is finished and see how high our electric bills are before deciding to go solar.  We'll have a better idea of the payback period.


  1. Grid-tie is the more flexible way to go solar.
    (I'd still get a generator for backup; if Bleecker is as rural as it sounds, I'd do so even without solar..rather than need to haul water to flush in a long outage or risk food spoilage).

    NY is one of only 8 states that has a feed-in tariff program (CA, FL, HA, IN, NY, VT, WA and OR). 7K is a good sized array; rather than delay going solar, you could put in a smaller array as a compromise if everything is getting too pricy. Our 2K gives us 40-50% of our electric needs... but we're pretty frugal.

    Once you dig up your driveway it'll be too late to decide 60 amps is inadequate. Our funky rustic camp has 60 amp service and that sounds inadequate for a small home. Will you have any motors or fans? (solar has a formula to determine how much amperage you'll need).

    It's overwhelming to think about, but needs to be planned (and digested) in parts!

  2. hey. the statistics here are mind boggling. thanks for sharing such informative blogs. they do really motivate on going green .

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