$12. That’s the monthly energy bill going forward now that Skypunch is solar powered. Solar energy is not new. What is new is that it’s finally affordable and sensible for businesses and residents alike to make the switch. Affordable does not mean cheap. It’s an investment and needs to be thought of as such just like purchasing a home or saving for retirement. You make an investment in an asset and over time, there is a return on that investment. In the case of Skypunch the solar array will pay for itself in 8 years. That’s a couple years longer than for many customers because the system was oversized for current usage so as to be future-proofed when the array begins recharging electric vehicles as anticipated in a couple of years.
So how does this work? First, this is a grid-tied system with no battery storage of surplus energy. Instead, there is storage of the credits accrued from the generation of surplus energy that is exported back into the grid for use by others. That credit carries forward to offset the cost of any electricity that may need to be drawn from the grid during times when the sun is not shining. This accrual of credits is what’s called net metering which you may read more about at the Solar Energy Industries Association website. But beware, net metering does not work the same way across all of the United States. West Virginia, home to Skypunch Technology, gets it right with a 1-to-1 net metering policy, meaning that for every kW of energy put onto the grid there is 1 kW of credit provided to the customer. In other words, the power company is required to pay retail price for that energy. In other states, for every kW of energy put onto the grid, the customer may receive say 1/2 kW of credit. The argument from power companies is that when they purchase energy from a commercial energy producer, they do so on the wholesale market and pay a wholesale price and that they should not be required to purchase energy from a customer at retail price. If you’re considering switching to solar, be sure to do your research about the net metering policy in your state.
The charts below can help visualize this. Blue bars represent energy produced, orange bars represent energy consumed. The X-axis runs from midnight to midnight so on this day, April 9, 2023, you can effectively see when the sun rose; produced energy; and then set in the evening. That was a total production of 58 kWh. 7.7 kWh was consumed, meaning 50.3 was exported back onto the grid and that is the amount for which credit is accrued. Obviously on this day, far more credit was produced than needed.
The above chart is not typical. As you can see from the smooth curve of the blue bars, there were no clouds that day and April 9, 2023 happened to be Easter Sunday with no work going on, nor any air conditioning running. A more typical chart is the one below from May 17, 2023.
Just from looking at the profile of the blue bars you can see to within 15 minutes when cloud cover passed overhead. Yet there was still 34.3 kWh of power being exported to the grid and accruing credit.
This is a big development, but thanks to enticing federal (and sometimes state) tax incentives, it is now within reach for many. If you’re one of those who’s always told yourself “maybe someday,” today could be that day!