Changing Times, Changing Rates
There’s a growing trend with electricity providers called variable rate pricing. It’s a way of adjusting rates based on consumption. Many households feel obligated to adjust their lifestyle so that they do not fall prey to the cost peaks in variable rate pricing. Thankfully, Solaron offers an alternative by installing SunVault Storage systems from SunPower. But first, let’s explain a little more about variable rate pricing.
Individual utility companies often have their own name for variable rate pricing, but the main idea is that the price rates for electricity goes up as consumption goes up. In a way, it’s a reflection of supply and demand. Take the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) as an example. SMUD uses a “Time-of-Day” rate program based on when you use electricity. During the night and morning, the electricity rate stays the same, but a higher pricing rate gets applied during peak hours in the evening, when most people use more electricity at home. Many homes have adjusted their power use – TV watching, game playing, device charging, etc. – to late at night. It might be inconvenient, but it costs less. And keep in mind, SMUD is non-profit, so their variable rate plan is more about preventing overconsumption during peak hours, not just maximizing earnings.
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is allowed to make a profit and uses a different model that focuses on consumption. Their Tiered Rate Plan monitors how much electricity you use. If you go above a threshold, you move into the next higher-priced tier. Each user is allotted an average amount of expected usage as a baseline, and a certain percentage over that baseline determines the threshold. Basically, variable rate pricing means that the more electricity you use, the more you have to pay for it.
The SunPower Workaround
Solaron is proud to work exclusively with SunPower systems, one of which is the SunVault system. Like a huge battery, SunVault stores the electricity generated by your solar panels. When your panels cannot generate electricity due to lack of sunlight, your home uses the electricity you’ve stored. When the sun comes back up, it replenishes the electricity you’ve consumed.
What does this mean for you and variable rate pricing? Well, during daytime peak hours, the electricity you use comes from your solar panels. If the sun goes down during peak hours, your electricity comes from your SunVault storage. The only power you’re likely to use from the grid comes during off-peak hours, when your electronic devices (and maybe your car) receive their charges overnight. As to rates based on consumption, all the electricity you are consuming and storing comes from your solar panels. That means you’ll never cross a power threshold again! (Although your battery system may also charge off the grid during cheap hours, making electricity available for use during peak hours. Advanced computer algorithms built into the processors that operate the battery unit work to guarantee you get the most economical power available, be it from the grid, the battery or your solar panels.)
In fact, when you add the capacity of SunVault Storage to your SunPower photovoltaic system, the chance of using grid power lowers even further. By itself, SunVault holds enough electricity to power the average home’s lights, refrigerator, washer, dryer, and electronic devices for more than a full day. Your SunPower solar panels refill your SunVault with any unused electricity, which means you always have a power reserve for your home.
With summer just around the corner, now is an excellent time to get a free home solar analysis from Solaron. We verify your energy consumption, examine your home and property to find the best configurations, seek out the best financial incentives and programs for you. Our experience agents are happy to answer any questions you have about variable rate pricing, solar panels or reserve power systems. Give Solaron a call or schedule an appointment here on our website.