As I mentioned in a series of blog posts, we are going solar on our new home in Texas. I considered this a bold proposal ($37,044) because in 2011 we made small improvements to our home in California that I classified as a modest proposal ($1,581):
- A Bold Proposal: Solar Plans for My Home Energy in Cypress, Texas
- A Bold Proposal: Proposed Layout of Solar Panels for My Home in Cypress, Texas
- A Bold Proposal: Proposed Schedule for Solar Panels for My Home in Cypress, Texas
- A Bold Proposal: HOA Approval for Solar Panels for My Home in Cypress, Texas
- A Bold Proposal: Installation of Solar Panels for My Home in Cypress, Texas
With our installation complete by Freedom Solar Power, it was time to move forward with the inspection.
Electricity in Cypress, Texas is open to competition. When we lived in Alameda, California, our electricity was available from a sole provider — Alameda Municipal Power. We loved Alameda Municipal Power because it was dedicated to the public interest since it was owned and operated by the City of Alameda. That kept rates low. In Texas, rates are kept low via competition. Cypress residents can choose among suppliers such as CenterPoint, Reliant, TXU, Frontier, 4Change, Cirro, Constellation, Champion, First Choice, Direct Energy, Trieagle, and Pennywise Power. We chose TXU as our provider since they were recommended by Freedom Solar Power as having a good solar program. Despite choosing TXU, CenterPoint provides the infrastructure for all of Cypress, so our solar energy system has to be approved by CenterPoint before we can use it.
Thanks to Devon McCarley of Freedom Solar Power who worked closely with CenterPoint, the series of nine steps done electronically happened in a matter of hours instead of weeks:
Document the Installation
Since this was not Freedom Solar Power's first rodeo (Now that I live in Texas, see what I did there?), they photographed the installation as they proceeded with the project.
This one is my favorite because it shows the wiring and support rails that are hidden once the panels are installed:
The picture also shows one of the SolaDeck boxes that has flashing to prevent roof leaks from the wires that connect the panels to my circuit breaker box in the garage.
Freedom Solar submitted an application to operate the solar system to CenterPoint Energy. This triggered an electronic signature request to the homeowner.
With the vendor's request and the homeowner's signature received, CenterPoint approved the application.
Inspection in Progress
An approved application triggered an inspection. CenterPoint wanted to ensure that the system is to code before allowing it to be connected to their electrical grid.
Freedom Solar Power submitted the photos that they captured during the installation. This allowed CenterPoint to determine that the job was done the right way.
By examining the photos and having previously worked with this vendor, CenterPoint approved the installation and generated an agreement to operate the system.
With an agreement generated, the homeowner gets a request to sign it. So I received another electronic signature request.
When CenterPoint received the electronic signature, the agreement was considered to have been executed.
Permission to Operate
With an agreement in place, the homeowner receives permission to operate. This was what Freedom Solar Power and we were waiting for!
The agreement between us (as homeowners) and CenterPoint includes a specification of our system:
With permission to operate, my wife, Sheryl, flipped a few switches, and we were in business. I'll let the system run for a while and report back on how we monitor the system and how much money we're saving. The return on our investment is estimated to be 10.5 years, but we may use more than normal the amount of energy in the future as an electric car may one day be in our garage.
Autodesk has always been an automation company. Today, more than ever, that means helping our customers automate their design and make processes. We help them embrace the future of making, where they can do more (e.g., increasing efficiency, performance, quality), with less (e.g., less energy, fewer raw materials, shorter timeframes, less waste of human potential), and realize the opportunity for better (e.g., innovation, user experience, return on investment). Doing more with less for the opportunity for better includes our employees as well as our software.
Electricity is alive in the lab.