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The Electric Bill I’ve Been Waiting For


The $9.57 is the monthly service charge. Note that there are NO charges for kilowatt hours because our solar arrays generated more than we used, even late in the Vermont winter. It looks above as if our beginning and ending meter readings were the same; but, I suspect, that’s because the billing software can’t deal with a meter running backwards.

The arrays are now tilted down to their spring position and it’s clear that we’ll be in surplus on a full year basis since we’ll be generating more per day and using less as the days continue to get longer and the sun higher. In Vermont you can’t carry a credit forward more than a year so it’s time to think of ways to use some of that “surplus” electricity and displace some imported fossil fuel.

Plan is to go to geothermal heat. This uses electricity four times as efficiently as electric radiant heat.  Hopefully we can do that by next winter. Savings’ll be lots of oil which I think comes mainly from Venezuela at our location.

The geothermal heat will also provide domestic hot water. Otherwise we’d switch that to electric. Currently the oil furnace is heating that which means it has to be on all summer.

Now feel a little guilty when I use my gas grill since I could be “using the sun” to cook electrically.

In the future hope to be charging a car with some of this solar power. But plugin hybrids aren’t available yet.


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Business Electricity

Electric Current is one of the most amazing discoveries of all times, we need to learn to look after it to make it last. Energy is unlimited?, we know that we need to be more efficient but we’ll always find ways to generate energy from diferent sources. I wanted to share my story about the use of electricity for getting more alive but I think that will happen another time. cheers for sharing it with us.

leslie moss

if you make electricity how come they do not pay you?????

Tom Evslin


Vermont law (regulation) requires utilities to credit full-retail for residential generation done with the approval of the PSB. But that same state policy specifically limits "payments" by a utility to credit against the bill. Any credits not used in 12 months become a gift to the utility.

Do you know whether the Vermont policy premepts or doesn't preempt the federal law you're citing?



Actually, you need to sue the turkeys. There is a fedral mandate that they have to buy back the excess power and pay you wnat is called "avoided fuel cost". In your case, it is based on the cost to produce the same amount of energy at Seabrook Nuc Plant!!!!!

Go get'em tiger


That's great -- wished my electric bill looked like that. Actually, I live in Vermont as well, and I'm surprised that you can do that well up here with solar. We've thought of playing around with it a little. Knowing that it can be done will definitely be food for thought. Thanks!


In the netherlands any surpluss energy is automatically sold to the electric company for energy credits, and since last week the governement is subsidizing any KwH produced by solar energy with 33 cents, up to a maximum of 850 KwH a year. I know it ain't the best deal ever, but it sure is a great start!

I Applaude your green-thinking, keep it up!

Tom Evslin


I don't think the billing software CAN deal with it because it didn't show the actual ending meter. However, I knew going in that Vermont only lets you carry a credit forward twelve months, never lets you collect.

Actually I'll get the right net result because the meter'll have to run forward for awhile to catch up with what the bill is showing. The utility'll have to find a way to make sure I don't carry forward more than twelve month because I'll be in surplus this year until I install geohermal heat pump or, further off, get an electric car.


You cant buy a plugin hybrind, but you can buy a plugin electric:


Tom Evslin


At over $100K for the installation net of the small VT and federal credits, it'd need to be displacing $5000/year in electricity before it could even begin to paly back the capital. At today's rates it does only about half that.

However, I think with a geothermal system I'd be close to or better than breakeven by displacing oil even with the extra capex. So that's my plan now that I see I am getting the output I hoped for.


That electric bill is enviable! Our electric bill runs pretty high in the winter - same with our gas bill. I'd love to one day have a solar powered home..

Tim McCormack

The billing software can indeed deal with a meter running backwards. The only reason they aren't paying you for the energy you provide is that they aren't required to, as power companies are in some states.


That's great news, Tom. I was wondering, how long until your savings catch up to your investment?

Tom Evslin


We use upwards of 1500kwh/month in the winter. less in summer since we have no a/c. so it's a heavy investment that does displace significant use. Our is a fairly large installation with over 13kw of capacity. it's in a field rather than on a roof top and pointed precisely south.

Bernard Golden

Wondered how much electricity you are actually using? We use a lot and pay a ton (PG&E still paying off for deregulation misadventure). I've thought about moving to solar but want to be sure it's not a heavy investment that displaces only a fraction of use.

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