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Emergent Microgrid Customer, 2020
Mrs. Paul writing for her HOA's Monthly Newsletter:
"If any of you have walked by my unit in the past few months you might have noticed something new on the roof of my 6 pack: solar panels. Now that it’s installed I wanted to share my experience with my fellow Association Members.
I had wanted solar for a long time and for various reasons; part of me sees it as a duty to do-my-part when the “powers that be” aren’t doing theirs (looking at you, SCE)! Being the first one at THE RESIDENCES to “go-solar” meant I was going to be the Guinea Pig - dealing with all the first-time questions and challenges from the HOA. I’m proud to say that the process has now been made easier for all of you wanting to make the same decision.
Firstly - residents at THE RESIDENCES have been looking into solar for years. But for various reasons, including the challenge of using ‘the Common roof’, nothing was ever installed. In 2018 California passed a law that clarified how common roofs are allocated for solar and I decided that the savings, improvement to my unit, and reduction in carbon footprint, meant it was something I was going to do.
As I explored my solar options, however, I learned that 1) most solar companies don’t want to work on the type of (metal) roof we have, 2) solar doesn’t work when the grid is down, unless you have battery backup - even if the sun is shining, and 3) the average solar installer isn’t yet setup to install batteries.
Remember those PSPS events? They’ll be back, so what I really wanted is to have power when they hit! A battery added to my solar would be like insurance to protect me during a long power outage. How are you planning to “get by” in case of a week-long power outage?
Luckily a friend of mine who is also concerned about PSPS events (especially when we are stuck at home!) mentioned that he had just had a home-battery installed; giving him exactly the type of backup power I wanted for a blackout. His battery is charged by his solar and the system works together to form his own “microgrid” - independently powering his home when the grid is off, and actually supporting our local electricity infrastructure when the grid is on.
My friend put me in touch with the guys at Emergent Microgrid who did his system. They came out and explained their process. All they needed to get started was to download my energy usage data from the utility so they could analyze it, which I’ve learned is a key step for designing and sizing a microgrid system. A few days later they gave me a detailed proposal, and a plan to work with the HOA to determine how the common roof would be divided up for solar. They explained that, essentially, you have the right to install solar on “your %” of the shared common roof (which in my case was 1/6th of the 6 pack) and that doesn’t have to be directly “above your unit”. The plan was sound, the price was right, and so I decided to move forward.
The actual install was pretty quick and the microgrid is running; I am proud to say that between my solar and battery I am indefinitely and automatically backed-up during a blackout. My CPAP machine, TV, computer, A/C, lights, phone, fridge, and microwave won’t miss a beat. I’ll have virtually no electricity bill, even though I have an Electric Vehicle. And -- back to our shared goal -- I’ll be helping to reduce my carbon footprint on the world!
Even if you’re not interested in solar / storage, you should have someone check if you qualify for a ‘Medical Baseline’ rate. When Emergent noticed I wanted my CPAP machine backed up, they shared with me that by owning this equipment, I qualified for an SCE program which reduces my bills and gives me a monthly credit of free electricity. This is not dependent on income.
Although there were of course some challenges getting this first microgrid through the HOA’s system, I think that my experience has helped blaze a trail at THE RESIDENCES. Like-minded residents should be able to follow a similar path in just a matter of weeks from signing a contract and installing the system. It truly wasn’t as hard as you might think to get it done. I hope that anyone interested reaches out to come take a look, and I’m especially looking forward to the days where we can all visit with one another again in person!"
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