Sunday, July 08, 2018

Suburban 5-4-and-a-Door Solar: Update to How Much Does Power Really Cost?

In this post last February, we detailed what contributes to actual cost of power from our local utility for our solar-enhanced home. As mentioned, the posted Georgia Power rates are just a small part of the overall charge. There are fixed add-ons like Environmental Fees and there are hidden costs like Fuel that you can only discover by calling and speaking to a supervisor.

We now have a full year of solar-enhanced bills to analyze, and we have a better idea of how to figure out each of the additional fees. These should be more accurate if anyone is calculating for themselves.

For each of the variable fees, we've done a regression analysis of the 12 months of data to determine more accurate formulas. Not that these are the actual formulas used by the utility. If they were, then the points would line up exactly. The formulas used by the utility appear to be secret and relatively randomized. But these formulas have been accurate within a dollar or two.

Nuclear Fee = 0.009965*kWh - $3.12

Environmental Compliance Fee = 0.01314*kWh - $3.87

Franchise Fee = 0.004657*kWh - $1.05

What we also found is that the fuel charge, which we originally assumed was fixed, seems to vary each month. That makes sense, we suppose, as fuel tends to change costs. However, it's hard to find any other industry that changes their prices month to month based on the cost of fuel. In any case, here are the fuel charges that appear to have been used on our bill over the last month. This is in addition to the fixed $10/month fuel charge.

Fuel Charge = $10 + amount below per 100 kWh
July, 2017$2.84
August, 2017$2.84
September, 2017$2.83
October, 2017$2.56
November, 2017$2.56
December, 2017$2.56
January, 2018$2.99
February, 2018$2.99
March, 2018$3.00
April, 2018$3.00
May, 2018$2.99
June, 2018$3.31

So your total bill cost is Nuclear Fee + Environmental Compliance Fee + Franchise Fee + Fuel Charge + Rate*kWh + 7% sales tax. If you have solar, then there is also a $2.82 fee to have a bi-directional meter, but at least you get about 3.5cents per kWh that you overproduce and sell back to the utility.

It's amazing that no one seems to even notice most of these charges. Georgia Power was certainly surprised when I asked. It's important to understand the total cost of power when deciding to put solar on your home. The published rate is just a small part of the total cost of power.

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