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38-year-old condo building going solar


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#41 Bingo

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 10:22 PM

You might be right.  The mechanics of that thing looks a bit daunting and perhaps delicate.

 

We cook our broccoli in one of those, but I suppose you could put a bunch of those up on the roof.

 

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#42 Mike K.

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 06:58 AM

So I wonder, how is this condo building's solar experiment going?

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#43 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 07:31 AM

So I wonder, how is this condo building's solar experiment going?

 

Ya, I'm curious too.


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#44 brucemackenzie

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 05:37 PM

The system has been generating electricity continuously (during the day of course) since it was first turned on June 11, 2015.

In the two full years it has been running (July through June), it has generated 17595 and 16868 kWh of electricity, which is about 4% more than the initial estimate from the 'pvwatts' solar calculator used to work out the finances for the owners. This spring was a bit lower than 2016 with the cloud, and summer has been good with all the sun but the smoke did reduce it a bit. And a tiny dip for the solar eclipse.

The only maintenance of the panels themselves was about half an hour with a bucket of plain water and soft broom to rincse them in May 2016.

We've chosen to put a small fan in the electrical room to disperse the heat from the inverter (the box that converts DC current from the roof to AC that feeds into the grid). And there have been a few glitches keeping data flowing to the Internet, but that doesn't affect the electrical production.

The panels supplied about 47% of the common area electricity in the 12 months to May 31, 2017. Since installation to Aug 31, 2017 they have saved about $5,300 in BC Hydro costs. This is not an exact calculation due to the two-step rate.

There is lots of information about this installation at http://www.bcsea.org/solar-on-strata

Edited by sebberry, 20 September 2017 - 09:28 PM.
Fixed broken URL

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#45 Citified.ca

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 08:13 AM

Fantastic news, Bruce. Citified has published a story at http://victoria.citi...since-mid-2015/


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#46 brucemackenzie

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 08:54 PM

Citified did not contact me about their article.

I am no longer the president of this strata, and have never lived at 909 Pembroke.


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#47 Mike K.

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 09:02 PM

By contacting us on this forum you also contacted Citified (the two are interconnected)  :)

 

You were the president of the strata when the idea came up, when the panels were installed, and for some time afterwards. Whether or not you reside(d) in the building isn't a critical point, we don't think.


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#48 jonny

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:15 AM

So it's a 19 year straight payback ($5,300 saved over two years = $2,650 per year. $50k / $2,650 = 18.9)? If you discount that, it will be more like 30+ years. That's a terrible investment. 

 

The owners should have put that $50k into the bank. 


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#49 Mike K.

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:18 AM

Btw, the piece has been updated to confirm Mr. Mackenzie sold his unit last year and is no longer on the strata.

 

What about escalating hydro costs? Couldn't that push the payback period lower, provided the panels themselves require very limited maintenance?


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#50 lanforod

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:22 AM

Have the values gone up at all? If not, it seems like it'd be a good buy for someone coming in now - benefit of the solar electricity without the upfront cost.


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#51 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:24 AM

What about escalating hydro costs? Couldn't that push the payback period lower, provided the panels themselves require very limited maintenance?

 

Yes, but it's still a poor investment from a strictly financial point of view.  For other reasons, might be OK.  Spread over however many units, it's not too hard a hit to take for some token environmentalism.

 

It's a flat roof.  When they have to replace that (every 15-20 years or so), it will cost a bit more to re and re the panels too.


Edited by VicHockeyFan, 21 September 2017 - 10:25 AM.

<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#52 jonny

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:24 AM

On a straight line basis, yes, but I doubt that makes up for the lost opportunity of the owners investing this money elsewhere (i.e. average market return of 8-10% per annum).  



#53 jonny

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:26 AM

The environmental benefits are dubious. Solar panels and electrical equipment are not exactly green to manufacture and 90+% of our electricity is hydro, which I consider to be very environmentally friendly.



#54 jonny

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:26 AM

Hopefully the owners got $50k worth of feel good vibes. 


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#55 jonny

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:42 AM

Companies typically use net present value for investment analysis (which is the present value of future cash flows, the money you have now is more valuable to money you will have in the future, buying power of money, opportunity cost of investment decisions, etc. etc.). I don't see a way this project could create a positive NPV i.e. these solar panels are losing these condo owners money every year. 


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#56 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 11:26 AM

Companies typically use net present value for investment analysis (which is the present value of future cash flows, the money you have now is more valuable to money you will have in the future, buying power of money, opportunity cost of investment decisions, etc. etc.). I don't see a way this project could create a positive NPV i.e. these solar panels are losing these condo owners money every year. 

 

For sure, if it made any economic sense, businesses would also do it.  None do.  Except when they want to show some environmental aspect of their business, then it's usually just token here or there.  But for your normal business, it's not done.  Can a group of condo owners be talked into it?  For sure.  And that's their choice.


<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#57 brucemackenzie

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 11:27 AM

The owners understood what they were getting when they voted to install this system,and so far it has performed as expected. The electrician was clear to them that this was not going to be a big money maker. They were happy to be leaders in solar power and the installation cost was less than $1,000 per suite, paid back over several years from their monthly strata fees. There were no government subsidies or tax breaks.

 

A full Net Present Value calculation using standard financial parameters would probably justify a majority of the project cost . From this point of view, they each may have spent a few hundred 'extra' dollars on something they just wanted to do, not unlike repainting the corridors in a new colour or remodelling the lobby.

Does this system add a few hundred dollars to the value of a $200,000 suite ? I don't have an answer but it is a small gamble. 


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#58 manuel

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 04:46 PM

The owners understood what they were getting when they voted to install this system,and so far it has performed as expected. The electrician was clear to them that this was not going to be a big money maker. They were happy to be leaders in solar power and the installation cost was less than $1,000 per suite, paid back over several years from their monthly strata fees. There were no government subsidies or tax breaks.

 

A full Net Present Value calculation using standard financial parameters would probably justify a majority of the project cost . From this point of view, they each may have spent a few hundred 'extra' dollars on something they just wanted to do, not unlike repainting the corridors in a new colour or remodelling the lobby.

Does this system add a few hundred dollars to the value of a $200,000 suite ? I don't have an answer but it is a small gamble. 

 

The cognitive disconnect between the implied requirement to do NPV and ROI calculations on building energy efficiency projects and complete ignorance of such on vehicle or overall house purchases is fascinating.  There seems to be a double standard - one is complimented for buying a complete bling car even though it is a horrible investment (almost guaranteed to lose money when compared to buying another car that will get you to the same place at the same time just as safely) but criticized for even a slightly long ROI for being a leading edge consumer on energy efficient goods.

 

Same would go for purchases of smartphones, barbeques and the like.  Usually horrible investments compared to similar products, but those with the sexy get the cudos.

 

Tesla is turning that around of course.


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#59 jonny

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 04:53 PM

Thank you for pointing out that cars, telephones and this solar power project are all expenses and not investments.

I clarified that there is zero financial argument for this project because Citified presented the story like there was.

You're right though. Those solar panels are more of a fashion accessory like a Tesla.
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#60 Mike K.

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 06:58 PM

Well, to be fair, our intent wasn’t to pass judgement. We just presented the facts.

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