February 05, 2014

Hawaii is really different: PV Power

It's a truism that current photovoltaics aren't quite cost-effective at current power prices. You can get systems that show a break-even in a decade plus, but that's highly dependent on the mean time between failures estimates being accurate to that kind of time span; if they're even a little short, you pay more for the panels than you save on the juice.

But that's only the case if you're paying US prevailing power prices. Electricity is a lot more expensive here, for a whole slew of factors some of which are thanks to the gummint, as usual. Which means... that PV power pays off a lot faster, because the panels aren't more expensive here (and the installation ain't that much more either).

This means there are a lot of panels on rooftops around here. Enough, actually, that the utility had real problems with entire neighborhoods which had negative power consumption during daylight hours. (Not just one or two - apparently it's something like 100 of the 451 stations on the grid.)

This led to a really stupid result - the government actually mandated a limit on the number of houses on each block which would be allowed to have a PV installation. It looks like the utility has finally gotten its head out of its rear and is signing on to allowing additional installations so long as the proper gear is in place to prevent a voltage spike of incoming power from blowing out a substation transformer not built to deal with power running the other way. Fortunately, we've already got our panels installed...

Apparently "the government has enacted a really dumb regulation" is not uncommon here. They have a ban on sparklers...

That said, they did give me credit for having my car registered in Texas - I only had to pay the modest plate fee to get registered here until my renewal period in June. At which point it becomes $300/year... oy!

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at 07:50 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 The sun coming almost straight down helps PV efficiency a lot too.
Sparklers huh? I imagine that goes over well with a big chunk of the populace there.
I'm guessing M-80s are right out then?

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at February 06, 2014 05:57 AM (DnAJl)

2 Well... New Year's here is pretty exuberant. My reaction was "continual artillery bombardment from about 9 PM to 12:30 AM", the locals said "much quieter this year". So it's not like I can't see why you'd want to limit the really crazy stuff.

They decided the way to go was to sell fireworks permits, $25/1000 firecrackers, etc. Unfortunately there was not enough fireworks to supply all the demand and so some people got permits but nothing to go boom with (and of course, no refunds...)

Aerial fireworks are banned but that didn't actually seem to stop people. The sparklers were... not so much intentionally banned, but nobody put any thought into "geez, if we're going to let people set off thousands of firecrackers we probably oughta let them burn a few sparklers hey?" In some ways it's a very blue state...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at February 06, 2014 02:03 PM (zJsIy)

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