[Ok-sus] OGE's obstacles to home solar PV generation

David Nordahl dnordahl at electricgreensolar.com
Thu Sep 20 23:46:55 CDT 2012

Normally the installer is responsible for the grid tie application and 
working with the utility since they are the ones that have designed the 
system and know the details. I can send a sample grid tie app for OG&E 
filled out if that bit hasn't been completed. Pretty much all meters 
already support net metering, though I think OG&E upgrades grid tie 
customers to smart meters if they don't already have them since they get 
to see some idea of time of use and surplus productions.  A smart meter 
is a bonus for the customer as it facilitates getting maximum bill 
reduction from the solar output during peak rate hours because it 
accounts for time of use.  I've seen people get twice the bill reduction 
in the summer than they were expecting due to peak rate billing with 
grid tie systems.

Some utilities will configure a dual meter setup, but I haven't seen any 
in Oklahoma do that.  If the grid tie app has been approved, then there 
should be no issues commissioning the system unless someone with the 
utility has been specifically directed otherwise.     Worst case 
scenario is that moment-to-moment surplus production won't turn the 
meter back and peak rate production won't be taken into account, but I 
think we're out of peak rate season by now. I haven't yet encountered a 
meter that won't go backwards whether the new digital or old rotary 
style.  I can track down the contact name and number for OG&E's 
interconnect person if needed.  I have it archived in an email somewhere.

As a side note, I've seen customers commission systems themselves many 
times immediately after or before even filing the grid tie app, and 
usually the utility co's don't seem to care or notice... particularly if 
it's been professionally installed and permitted with a utility 
disconnect by the meter.  Not that I would ever recommend that :)

On 09/20/2012 11:03 PM, Bob Waldrop wrote:
> I wonder if someone here may have some ideas for Betty as to who she 
> should contact to get this scheduled.
> Bob Waldrop, Oklahoma City
> On 9/20/2012 10:57 AM, Betty Leggiero wrote:
>> As a widow that wants to be "green", but knows very little about 
>> active solar and even less about trying a DIY, I found OG&E's process 
>> very overwhelming. I hired a reputable company to install a four 
>> panel pinwheel for me. They did all the work and I trusted their 
>> advise on decisions. The only thing I had to do was call OG&E and 
>> have them come out and install a net-meter. I've been trying to do 
>> that for a few weeks now. I leave messages that aren't returned or 
>> get voice mailboxes that are full. It seems to me that if the process 
>> were simplier and OG&E were more receptive, more people like me would 
>> be willing to spend the money.
>> Betty Leggiero
>> Norman, Ok
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> *From:* David Nordahl <dnordahl at electricgreensolar.com>
>> *To:* ok-sus at lists.oksustainability.org
>> *Sent:* Thu, September 20, 2012 10:38:19 AM
>> *Subject:* Re: [Ok-sus] OGE's obstacles to home solar PV generation
>> As someone who has filled out several OG&E grid tie applications I'd
>> have to disagree on almost all the points and say that OG&E's
>> application is by far the simplest out there taking at most 10 minutes
>> for someone that knows what they are doing.  Perhaps things have
>> changed, but the form on their website looks the same as I've been used
>> to.  Oklahomans are fortunate to actually have such a simple process
>> with as little red tape as we have here.  The process in areas like
>> California, Austin, and the northeast are normally extremely complicated
>> and very drawn out, and the author would not have been able to DIY his
>> own system and application in most of these developed markets and still
>> qualify for the state/utility grants and incentives they have there.  As
>> a result the installed cost per watt here is nearly half of what it
>> averages in these other markets.  So to see someone complain about it
>> and to see such little adoption of PV here despite how cheap and easy it
>> is to install here for a DIY-er or retail customer seems very
>> misdirected to me.
>> On the first point, their application does not require any of the one
>> line diagrams or engineering documents and drawings that most other's
>> require.  It is more like a legal document, and the few technical fields
>> can easily be obtained with a brief call to the inverter manufacturer
>> and/or OG&E.
>> On the second point, the smallest limit I've seen for residential grid
>> tie systems is 25kw for the simple grid interconnect agreement formats.
>> Scanning through their documents on their website, I see maximums much
>> larger than this. Above these sizes, the system is considered more of a
>> power plant and the implications of grid connections change so there are
>> different processes involved. No residential system is going to be this
>> large. If there has been a cap introduced on maximum total KWH output,
>> then that specifically needs to be addressed.
>> On the third point, most people are not going to size a system large
>> enough to produce more power than they are going to use in an entire
>> year.  Past this point, a system owner is assuming the role of a power
>> plant rather than someone that is off setting their own power.  I'm not
>> sure why one would assume entitlement to a retail rate pay back for
>> power (though a few states have some provisions for this).  That's like
>> assuming that a grocery store is obligated to buy goods from walk-in
>> customers at the retail rate they sell them for.  There are a lot more
>> regulatory mandates that would be more effective and reasonable than
>> requiring retail buy back for excess production.
>> The forth point is the only real point of contention I see worth
>> mentioning, but I don't see any information on their website regarding
>> it and the article should have focused specifically on this point if it
>> is actually the case.  A couple years ago I was aware of an effort by
>> OG&E to potentially co-brand or develop their own grid tie inverters and
>> require customers to use this equipment if they wanted to connect any
>> solar to the utility.  They had issued an RFP several years back which
>> included the strange request that the contractor source several non-UL
>> listed grid tie inverters for them.  Upon searching around nobody was
>> really able to find any for them to the best of my knowledge.. and I
>> partly suspected their motive was to provide a basis for at some point
>> in the future requiring customers to use OG&E issued inverters. I've
>> never heard of any California approved list.  Rather any inverter
>> connecting to the grid must comply with the UL-1741 spec. OEC requires a
>> copy from the inverter manufacturer of their actual certificate for it's
>> grid tie applications.  If for whatever reason OG&E is no longer
>> allowing UL-1741 conforming inverters to interconnect, than this is an
>> issue that needs to be addressed.  I also have the impression it might
>> be a possible future goal of OG&E to get involved to some degree in the
>> installation and design process.
>> My impression is that their long term goal is to figure out a way to
>> make grid interconnection a mutually beneficial arrangement for both
>> customer and utility, rather than purely an entitlement/regulatory based
>> thing.  If they do get into the PV business in some measure or start
>> producing their own options for inverters and equipment, then certainly
>> consumer choice needs to still be maintained.
>> TL;DR Targeting OG&E as the culprit for making PV inaccessible in
>> Oklahoma is would be what I'd consider a very misdirected effort. But if
>> OG&E has started disallowing customer supplied UL-1741 inverters to
>> connect to the grid, than the issue should be taken up with regulatory
>> agencies.
>> -David Nordahl
>> NABCEP Certified PV Installer
>> NABCEP Certified Solar Thermal Installer
>> On 09/20/2012 07:57 AM, Bob Waldrop wrote:
>> > There is an interesting letter to the editor in the Norman Transcript
>> > outlining what the author believes to be unnecessary obstacles in the
>> > process for getting approved for OGE's buy-back program for electricity
>> > residential users may generate with PV panels or wind.  From the
>> > article, it appears that OGE is less than enthusiastic about 
>> encouraging
>> > homeowners to invest in solar PV.
>> >
>> > Read the letter at
>> > 
>> http://normantranscript.com/opinion/x1709880462/OG-E-s-obstacles-to-home-solar-generating
>> > .
>> >
>> > There may be some process beginning with the Corporation Commission in
>> > an attempt to change this.
>> >
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