Industrial-Scale Solar Power and Software Solutions that Bypass Utility Roadblocks

See How New Software Gives Manufacturers and Mid-Large Companies Energy Independence at Lower Cost

If you live in a solar friendly state and utility district, count your blessings. If you don’t, but your company has renewable energy mandates you’re determined to meet through solar energy, today you have found the secret path to evading the wiles of the utility company.

Why Do Some Utilities Try to Fight Back Against Solar?

Because they have a misguided understanding about how solar actually benefits them more than it costs them money.

Does a customer who goes solar pay less in direct costs to the utility? Yes. But there’s more to it than that. 

A grid-connected solar energy system produces energy. That’s what utilities normally do, and now you’re doing it for them. With any excess energy produced by your system, the utility gets to use it and sell it to other customers. They didn’t have to pay to generate it. But they get to sell it. 

Some utilities use net metering, where they pay the customer who generates the electricity at the retail price per kWh. Other utilities only pay the ‘avoided costs,’ meaning they reimburse the customer at the wholesale rate, which is much lower than the retail price. 

Either way, while you are paying less in direct costs to the utility, the profits they earn off the energy you produce offsets those losses to a large degree.

Additionally, in places where electrical grids are stretched too thin and suffer occasional brownouts, independent energy producers help reduce the strain on the system. Everyone wins when more energy gets produced for no cost.

What Utility Companies Do to Restrict Solar

All that being true, some utilities continue to push down hard against their customers when they go solar. They do it to everyone from homeowners to large companies.

Some of their tactics include:

Non-Bypassable Charges

These are fees not related to your power production, yet still charged by the kWh. Here’s an article that explores this in greater detail.

With these fees, you pay for the energy you use, regardless of where it came from. So if you have a solar power array installed but have a non-bypassable charge for ‘nuclear decommissioning’ of, say, $0.0015 per kWh, you’ll pay that charge regardless of how much of your energy consumption came from your solar.

Grid Access Charges

The utility can also make you pay simply because you’re still tied to the grid. They might charge you something like $0.78 per kW. So if you have a 500kW system installed at a warehouse or manufacturing plant, you would pay $390 per month simply to have power, before you’ve used any of it. According to the same article just referenced, Arizona Public Service charged $0.93 per kW of solar.

Punitive Monthly Charges

Alabama Power went so far as charging $30 a month to every customer that installed a solar energy system, in addition to a meter fee and a grid access charge. It’s essentially a solar tax, because it gives absolutely nothing of value to the customer, and in fact penalizes them for going solar. Message received, Alabama Power.

The good news is, the software system you’re about to read about helps your company come out ahead even in the face of these heavy handed tactics.

Eliminate Net Metering

Some utilities don’t offer net metering at all, or pay rates so low as to make the value you get from the solar array minimal at best. In other places like Arizona that used to have net metering, it’s being taken away at the utilities’ bidding.

Without net metering, producing excess energy in the day provides you no financial benefit. What we’re about to show you nearly eliminates this problem.

Peak Demand Charges

For companies and manufacturers, this is actually one of your greatest sources of rising energy costs. For large companies, utilities often set a ceiling for how much power they will guarantee you at any given moment. It might be something like 100kW.

If a manufacturing plant ramps up production and turns on a number of systems within a 15 minute time frame, you might be using more than 100kWh of power. Anything above that will be charged at a much higher rate. These are called peak demand charges, and if you sustain this higher rate of usage for extended periods of time, you lose big. Peak demand charges have been known to eat up 25-50% of the power bill for some companies that can’t avoid going over their limits frequently.

Therefore, anything that helps reduce your grid-sourced energy usage so it stays below that ceiling will save your company a pile of money. “Grid-sourced” is the key to this. If you have a solar array producing energy for you, then you aren’t using energy from the grid. 

If you can make it work so that your solar energy always produces enough to keep you below your ceiling, you’ll save big.

But how can you make that work? What if your highest demand periods happen at night? What if you’re running systems all night long? 

person using a forklift

Groundbreaking Solar Energy Management Software Unlike Anything Else Available

A number of forces can work against your company’s solar array from producing power and saving you the most money possible. 

It’s not just about avoiding all these fees and rate hikes from the utility, or their limitations on what you’re allowed to produce from solar. Some utilities even limit the size of the solar array you’re allowed to connect to the grid. 

But you’re also up against things you can’t control, like weather, seasons, and time of day. Again, if you run energy-intensive industrial processes early in the morning or late at night, the sun isn’t shining. And, irregular consumption means that – especially if you have an unfriendly utility company – with a solar array you might produce extra energy in the day that essentially goes to waste.

Coastal Solar has developed proprietary solar energy management software that solves ALL of these problems to the farthest extent possible at this point in time.

Here’s what our software does:

1) Integrates with high-capacity energy storage batteries

These are not small-time batteries that homeowners would buy. These are industrial scale workhorses. The software manages the relationship between your solar array, batteries, power usage, and even your generator if you have one.

2) Reads weather patterns a week or more in advance

If you have four sunny days in a row, but the weather report predicts two days of clouds and rain after that, the software will direct the battery to increase its stored energy in advance so you can continue operating – free of the grid – during normal and peak demand periods of time. 

In that instance, the software may direct the battery to store more energy than it uses on the sunny days, knowing that it will use far more of the stored energy during the rainy days that are coming. 

In other words, this system is like the ant in the fable about the ant and the grasshopper. 

The ant diligently plans ahead all summer, storing food for the winter. The grasshopper jumps around willy nilly, thinking nothing of the future. In winter, the ant doesn’t starve. And the grasshopper has to beg the ant to help it out. Our software, combined with a high-capacity battery, enables you to become the ant.

Likewise, this software-battery system manages your energy usage and storage so you use ALL the solar energy you produce, and in such a way to minimize or eliminate peak demand charges. 

3) Monitors your energy usage habits

The software will track how your company uses energy. As it gathers data over time, it will figure out when during the day, month, and year you use more or less energy. By coordinating that data with weather data and solar production data, the software will enable your company to use as much of the energy produced by your solar array as possible, and it will get better at it over time.

In other words, the grid is now your backup source of power.

How This Software Bypasses the Utility Company

Think about the strategies they employ to discourage you from going solar.

If you have peak demand, our software will ensure that you only buy what you need from the grid, so you won’t pay those higher peak demand charges.

If your utility charges higher rates at certain times of day or in certain seasons (or both), the software will use your stored energy to reduce energy use from the grid during those times. You save more money.

If they charge you non-bypassable charges, these will be much lower because you will be using far fewer kWh from the grid. 

If your utility doesn’t offer net metering, it doesn’t matter anymore. You’re not selling any energy back to the grid, because you’re using everything you produce. 

Here’s another way to think of this:

It’s sort of like a blend of an on-grid and an off-grid solar system. Yes, you will still be on the grid. But with solar plus storage you will be producing your own energy.

The money you will save with this approach will far eclipse what you would save if you just installed a solar array and let it run on its own. 

Trying to Meet Your Renewable Energy Mandates?

Only a few companies in the nation have the resources and understanding to implement systems like this for manufacturers and other large companies like big retailers and hotels. 

Coastal Solar is one of them. 

If your company is striving to meet your renewable energy mandates, but you don’t want to get ripped off by the monopolistic utility in the process, this is the exact reason we created this software.

Contact a Coastal Solar consultant to learn more

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