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Discussion Starter #1
I'm interested in this group's take on something I'm thinking about. The SCE rates where I live are criminal (.31 peak and TOU shamefully raises the peak rate even higher). However my natural gas rates are pennies. I browsed around at natural gas generators, and simple math looks like it would cost significantly less to pay for the gas and generate my own power. I understand the efficiency issues, capital cost, and the fact that running the generator 24/7 doesn't make sense and that I'd eventually have maintenance costs, etc. But if we just used it during peak periods to offset the peak rates, could it work?

I'm of course setting aside for the moment the environmental issues, though most of our SCE power is generated by natural gas anyway. And if it matters, we already have as much solar as our rooftop will allow (about 3kw), but this doesn't keep us out of the peak rate.

Anyone have experience with this? Thanks.
 

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Wouldn't you have a nightmare switching issue with solar, generator and utility power all trying to co-mingle?
 

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Wouldn't you have a nightmare switching issue with solar, generator and utility power all trying to co-mingle?
I believe the idea is that you would not be hooked up to utility power at all, only natural gas. The cost to be attached to electricity alone makes natural gas worthwhile and the cost per KW savings is just icing on the cake.

The place where I work used to generate their own electricity when the spot price + maintenance was below that of grid power and that was years ago.

And oddly I have been considering converting to natural gas + solar for 24/7 power, natural gas produced electricity is much cheaper than the grid, especially when you consider you also get "free" heat to use how you will.

The number 1 problem is locating a 24/7 rated genset, you will find you are limited to things that are very very old like crazy jerries 600rpm diesel genset (which can run 90% natural gas) or things that are way too large for your purposes having to modify off the shelf Japanese cogeneration things at a very high cost.
 

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I believe if you take the expected life hours of the generator, measured in thousands of hours, divided by the cost, add in the installation costs, then add the natural gas, you would be way over even the peak rates you have mentioned.

Back of the envelope is the generator installed is 10K, has a life ot 3K hours that's 30 cents right there.
 

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I believe if you take the expected life hours of the generator, measured in thousands of hours, divided by the cost, add in the installation costs, then add the natural gas, you would be way over even the peak rates you have mentioned.

Back of the envelope is the generator installed is 10K, has a life ot 3K hours that's 30 cents right there.
Older slow turning continuous use gensets have a life closer to 6k hours but after 6k you have to replace wear components and your on your way again, the cost of ownership is much lower than 30 cents per KW, but then again you are limited to specific sizes and outputs, the medium size gensets have the highest cost for maintenance, the small and large units have lower costs.
 

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My parents live in southern FL and told me they have neighbors who have whole-house natural gas generators for hurricane season. I didn't see them, but they described them as a semi-permanent outdoors installation (on a slab) in an enclosure like a big fridge on its side. It supposedly has enough power for the full house (does that include a/c? Not sure). It can run itself every week or two for a few minutes (including auto grid-disconnect/reconnect) to make sure everything works, IIRC. Now, can this run 24/7 for months/years? I don't know, but it's worth looking into as existing tech. I don't know any vendors, sorry.
 

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Just curious, but have you looked into the Powerwall by Tesla?

It might be cheaper to store electricity at off-peak rates and then reduce or eliminate your peak period consumption. I don't know your overall power rate structure, but just thought this might be worthy of consideration.
 

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Don't forget that you can get extra solar panels installed on a patio cover or car port cover also, which could easily double your 3kw to 6kw.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, everyone, for your info. If I move forward with this, I'll keep the forum posted.
 
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