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Net metering – selling your solar power in the Philippines

Net metering – selling your solar power in the Philippines

So since late May 2017 I’ve had solar panels on my roof. But I had to wait more than 4 months, early Oct 2017, until I could sell the excess power I generate from those panels.

What happens between the installation of the panels and the selling of your excess power? Net metering.

Basically net metering is the term for getting your local electrical utility (in my case Meralco) to buy the excess power you generate. All utilities are required b law to offer net metering to their customers. From the term itself you can probably already guess that net metering involves properly measuring the power you generate and crediting you accordingly.

It sounds simple but there’s a lot of red tape involved in getting your net metering approved.

Before I detail my experience, please note that you do not need net metering in order for your solar panels to work. You only need metering to sell your excess energy. For example, you are generating 2.5kw but are only using .5kw. What happens to the excess energy of 2kw? If you do not have net metering then it is simply wasted, you do not get any money for it. With net metering your local utility will buy your excess power from you and pay you for it.

Without net metering solar panels can still be economical, especially if you generally consume more energy than you produce. Generally though you will need net metering to get the most value from your solar panels.

A run down of how I got net metering:

  1. Went to my local Meralco office, looked for the guy handling residential net metering
  2. Guy came over to the house, looked at the set up, reported back to Meralco
  3. Meralco required me to pay for an energy feasibility study of my area. This was kind of funny as Meralco wrote it like they were offering their services to me – as if I had a choice on who to get for the study.
  4. Meralco required me to enroll my Meralco bill under an auto debit arrangement (This is required for Meralco accounts which are less than a year old. I fell under this as I had just bought my house so the Meralco account was new.)
  5. Meralco required me to move my main breaker outside of my house and onto the street level. In case of a power interruption Meralco is afraid the electrical wires in my area will still have juice in them since my solar panels are still producing power. The breaker outside is to allow Meralco’s repair crew access to shut down the power in my house. This was the most expensive part of getting net metering and it is unnecessary to boot. See my discussion below.
  6. Because I had to monkey around with shifting my breaker outside the house I had to get a certificate from my city (Makati) saying that they inspected the new set up and everything was fine. (A lot of people get stuck on this process since getting your LGU to do inspections is excruciating.)
  7. I had to pay a nominal fee to the Energy Regulatory Commission which issued some certificate saying that I am registered to produce energy. (Again, more red tape and paper work.)
  8. Meralco changed my meter to a digital meter which can monitor how much energy I’m selling to them

So all of the above took a lot of time, more than 4 months. Again it’s frustrating that you’re trying to do something good (solar panels generate clean energy) but the regulations make it extremely time consuming in order for you to realize that good.

It’s doubly frustrating because parts of the process can be streamlined. Take steps 5 and 6. Meralco’s fears of my lines still being electrified during a brownout are unjustified since my inverter (the device which converts the power generated by the panels, which is direct current, into power which can be used for the home, which is alternating current), like all other modern inverters, automatically turns off when external power is cut. So in the event of a brownout, my inverter will turn off. Without the inverter there won’t be any power flowing from the panels to my home or the electrical wires outside my home. As such there is no need for the Meralco repair crew to have access to my breaker.

Having to move my breaker was also costly as I had to hire a contractor to do this. Fortunately the contractor took care of procuring the certificate from Makati City Hall (step 6). For that alone I was willing to pay them for their service. The contractor was recommended by Meralco but you can get anyone you feel comfortable with. In the end the contractor did good work and I certainly appreciated not having to deal with city hall. Still steps 5 and 6 were expensive. And this is on top of your cost for the panels.

Finally though, after more than 4 months, everything is completed and I am selling my excess power to Meralco.

Choosing a solar panel installer in the Philippines

Choosing a solar panel installer in the Philippines

I’ve always wanted solar panels on my roof but neither had the clearance (been living with other people) nor the money to install them where I lived. Recently though I’ve moved to my own place so clearance was no longer a problem. As for the cost I was able to strike a business deal which covered most of the cost of the panels (more on that later).

There are a ton of solar panel installers in the Philippines. Before I tell you who I finally chose I’ll just give an overview of how it was to deal with them and how much they quoted for a 3kw system. (Note this was in 2016, prices may have changed by the time you read this.)

Solaric – No one responded to my inquiries so I had no quote from them.
Solar Philippines – Also no response.
Matec Solar Power – Around PHP360,000 for a 3kw system. This is all in, the price includes the panels, the inverter and installation.
Sol Energy Systems – The person spoke to couldn’t give me a quote and asked me to call back :l
United Solar – Initially the price was PHP300,000 but they were nice enough to reduce it to PHP285,000.
Miester Solar – Also no response.

So while there a lot of solar installers in the Philippines (and I’m sure there are many more that I did not contact), a lot of them could invest more in better sales staff.

I eventually chose United Solar and I am quite happy with them. One of the main reasons for my choice was because my primary contact there, Monica, was helpful and very conscientious about following up with me. The follow ups weren’t pushy but they were quite regular, around every 3 weeks or so. Even after I decided not to get solar (eventually I changed my mind) she would still touch base every now and then. It wasn’t a hard sell though, just an occasional reminder which I appreciated.

A large factor also was the cost, United Solar was the cheapest quote I got for a 3kw system. Usually you get what you pay for and I’m wary of the cheapest cost but since communication with United Solar was always very prompt, and they seemed to be on the ball, I decided to risk it.

The panels arrived around a month after I paid the 50% downpayment and installation took a day. The reason for the delay was the inverter was stuck in customs. The installation was very clean and the inverter fit nicely into the space we chose.

The installers and the head guy leading the installation, Bryan, were all nice and pleasant. Bryan in particular took the time to explain some of the numbers behind solar operation in the Philippines.

TL/DR: If you’re looking to buy solar panels in the Philippines, I fully recommend United Solar.

 

Whale sharks in the Philippines: Donsol or Oslob

Whale sharks in the Philippines: Donsol or Oslob

For nature lovers and adventure junkies, one of the attractions in the Philippines is getting the chance to swim with whale sharks. Whale sharks, or butanding as they are known locally, are the largest living species of fish.

If you’re interested in swimming with these gentle giants (whale sharks eat plankton and are not aggressive) then you can either go to Donsol (in Sorsogon) or Oslob (in Cebu).

So which place is better?

I’ve done both and I would strongly recommend going to Donsol instead of Oslob.

Image courtesy of wikimedia.
A butanding. Image courtesy of wikimedia.

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Smoke Belcher Alert #10

Smoke Belcher Alert #10

Air quality in Manila is poor and most of the pollution comes from vehicles.

We have laws in place that require all vehicles to undergo emissions testing before the vehicles’ yearly registration is released. As usual in the Philippines the law is admirable but its execution is twisted to make another racket for all the parties concerned.

The end result is that there are heaps of smoke belching vehicles on the road.

This is my continuing diary of spotting those vehicles. My corner of the internet is a quiet one. In all likelihood the owners of these vehicles will never know that there is video evidence of them smoke belching.

Still, this is my small time bid to try to document these polluters.

Vehicle: Jeepney
License Plate: PYM-599
Location: Kalayaan Ave. Makati near the intersection of Makati Ave.
Date 10-8-15

Smoke Belcher: PYM-599
Smoke Belcher Alert #9

Smoke Belcher Alert #9

Air quality in Manila is poor and most of the pollution comes from vehicles.

We have laws in place that require all vehicles to undergo emissions testing before the vehicles’ yearly registration is released. As usual in the Philippines the law is admirable but its execution is twisted to make another racket for all the parties concerned.

The end result is that there are heaps of smoke belching vehicles on the road.

This is my continuing diary of spotting those vehicles. My corner of the internet is a quiet one. In all likelihood the owners of these vehicles will never know that there is video evidence of them smoke belching.

Still, this is my small time bid to try to document these polluters.

Vehicle: Converted L300
License Plate: UWC-407
Location: J.P. Rizal Makati
Date 9-29-15

Smoke Belcher: UWC-407
Smoke Belcher Alert #8

Smoke Belcher Alert #8

Air quality in Manila is poor and most of the pollution comes from vehicles.

We have laws in place that require all vehicles to undergo emissions testing before the vehicles’ yearly registration is released. As usual in the Philippines the law is admirable but its execution is twisted to make another racket for all the parties concerned.

The end result is that there are heaps of smoke belching vehicles on the road.

This is my continuing diary of spotting those vehicles. My corner of the internet is a quiet one. In all likelihood the owners of these vehicles will never know that there is video evidence of them smoke belching.

Still, this is my small time bid to try to document these polluters.

Vehicle: Motorcycle
License Plate: ???
Location: Rockwell Flyover
Date 9-29-15

Smoke Belcher
Smoke Belcher Alert #7

Smoke Belcher Alert #7

Air quality in Manila is poor and most of the pollution comes from vehicles.

We have laws in place that require all vehicles to undergo emissions testing before the vehicles’ yearly registration is released. As usual in the Philippines the law is admirable but its execution is twisted to make another racket for all the parties concerned.

The end result is that there are heaps of smoke belching vehicles on the road.

This is my continuing diary of spotting those vehicles. My corner of the internet is a quiet one. In all likelihood the owners of these vehicles will never know that there is video evidence of them smoke belching.

Still, this is my small time bid to try to document these polluters.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi Pajero
License Plate: UBF-772
Location: Kalayaan Ave. right before Makati Cemetery
Date 9-22-15

Smoke Belcher: UBF-772
Smoke Belcher Alert #6

Smoke Belcher Alert #6

Air quality in Manila is poor and most of the pollution comes from vehicles.

We have laws in place that require all vehicles to undergo emissions testing before the vehicles’ yearly registration is released. As usual in the Philippines the law is admirable but its execution is twisted to make another racket for all the parties concerned.

The end result is that there are heaps of smoke belching vehicles on the road.

This is my continuing diary of spotting those vehicles. My corner of the internet is a quiet one. In all likelihood the owners of these vehicles will never know that there is video evidence of them smoke belching.

Still, this is my small time bid to try to document these polluters.

Vehicle: Hyundai Accent
License Plate: UVG-567
Location: Kalayaan Ave. right after the turn from Rockwell Drive
Date 9-18-15

Smoke Belcher: UVG-567
Smoke Belcher Alert #5

Smoke Belcher Alert #5

Air quality in Manila is poor and most of the pollution comes from vehicles.

We have laws in place that require all vehicles to undergo emissions testing before the vehicles’ yearly registration is released. As usual in the Philippines the law is admirable but its execution is twisted to make another racket for all the parties concerned.

The end result is that there are heaps of smoke belching vehicles on the road.

This is my continuing diary of spotting those vehicles. My corner of the internet is a quiet one. In all likelihood the owners of these vehicles will never know that there is video evidence of them smoke belching.

Still, this is my small time bid to try to document these polluters.

Vehicle: Light Truck
License Plate: RLV-772
Location: Buendia, near the EDSA Buendia Flyover
Date 9-5-15

Smoke Belcher: RLV-772
Smoke Belcher: RLV-772
Smoke Belcher Alert #4

Smoke Belcher Alert #4

Air quality in Manila is poor and most of the pollution comes from vehicles.

We have laws in place that require all vehicles to undergo emissions testing before the vehicles’ yearly registration is released. As usual in the Philippines the law is admirable but its execution is twisted to make another racket for all the parties concerned.

The end result is that there are heaps of smoke belching vehicles on the road.

This is my continuing diary of spotting those vehicles. My corner of the internet is a quiet one. In all likelihood the owners of these vehicles will never know that there is video evidence of them smoke belching.

Still, this is my small time bid to try to document these polluters.

Vehicle: Light Truck
License Plate: ZKV-977
Location: J.P. Rizal Extension, in front of Puregold Makati
Date 9-7-15

Smoke Belcher: ZKV-977
Smoke Belcher: ZKV-977