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The absurdity of OhmHours in a net-negative situation

darelldddarelldd Posts: 3Member
edited January 2018 in Solar Users

I really want to like this system, and help make energy production more efficient and cleaner. But because I've already invested so heavily in energy savings, The ohmconnect system for me is frustrating at best, and a deterrent to energy saving at worst.

My home is a net-negative electricity consumer. I'm a producer. All year, every month (though not every hour or even every day). So far, almost every one of my forecasts have been negative. And to beat a negative forecast, I have to be MORE negative, of course. And many times, that is simply impossible. Not difficult. Impossible.

(I should point out how amusing my status bars are: I typically need a larger status bar (more negative) to show that I've beaten my forecast of a shorter status bar (less negative) except for those rare times when ohmhours are set when my forecast is positive consumption, in which case my status bar needs to be shorter than the forecast bar. So... most days my status bar needs to be longer than the forecast in order to win, and sometimes it needs to be shorter. It is confusing and crazy, and impossible to take in at a glance).

A typical example of my impossible-to-beat scenario: My forecast is -2.5 kWh because for the last days and weeks at this hour, the sun has been up, and I'm making lots of electricity from my PV system. My forecast is for production of 2.5 kWh, not consumption. But on this day of the OhmHour, a storm has rolled in, and the clouds have severely cut my solar output. So even if I shut off EVERY electricity consumer in my entire house, I am penalized for generating if my solar output as dropped to, say, 1 kWh during this time. Sure, I can opt out and lose my streak. Or I can stay in and lose my streak. There is NO possible way for me to maintain my streak because there is no way to reduce my consumption below zero. I'm a loser while I'm doing far more than my share to save electricity.

This is crazy. Time after time I have gone over my forecast (negative) while I am generating electricity. I can invest in all kinds of smart plugs, but it doesn't matter. All that has to happen is a slight change in weather, and I'm screwed. How about if I hook up a diesel generator to stay ahead of those OhmHours that are designed to reduce such polluting things? If I can't be a winner in this system that is supposed to champion conservation, there is zero incentive for me to stay in.

Can this be fixed? I think it can. But it'll only be fixed if ohmconnect is really dedicated to electricity conservation and not to profit. The tagline for ohmconnect is "take charger of your energy." And I've done that. But I'm still a loser in this system.

Best Answer

Answers

  • darelldddarelldd Posts: 3Member

    Thanks UkiwiS (US Kiwi?),

    I spent half an hour trying to read all of the scattered discussions of this issue. Thank you for your concise response and suggestions. It still strikes me as odd that the OC team can't come up with some better way to handle net-negative customers.

    I've heard of other people purposefully wasting electricity in order to game the system - by plugging in a resistive heater during the times that they allow ohm hours, and then unplugging during the actual Ohmhour. But like you - I have an EV (well, actually two EVs) to charge when I like. So I can certainly time-shift that as well.

    It still drives me nuts to have to do this instead of merely saving - or in our case - producing electricity. Penalizing the people who are making the biggest difference just doesn't sit well with me.

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I honestly never thought it would be possible for me to move on from silver status, because as my situation stands now, there's no way for me to save 15% over my already net-negative.

    For those who haven't seen the status bar confusion before, I'll post an image here. Note that in all three of these scenarios, I'm a winner. Longer status bar or shorter...

    Cheers,

    • Darell

  • UkiwiSUkiwiS San DiegoPosts: 1,558Member, Moderator

    @darelldd

    Yes, well spotted, UkiwiS = Kiwi in US
    You should be able to do really well with 2 EVs, I earned $2800 last year by charging int he evening and getting my streak up. I had 7 referrals so most of that was via "savings". At this time of year OhmHours are earlier than they are in the Summer so you need to "work" around that and charge your EVs accordingly, if you can. The downside is that you pay more for the electricity. In 2016 my electric bill for the year was $120. In 2017 it'll be closer to $400.

  • Kate from OhmConnectKate from OhmConnect Posts: 1,049Administrator

    @darelldd thanks for your feedback. In fact, the reason we can't come up with the perfect solution for net negative (Solar) users is that the CAISO doesn't have a baseline for solar. Our algorithms are based off those set by the CAISO so that we can get paid. Since we aren't paid for solar users production, it puts us in a precarious situation.

  • WaterGuyWaterGuy Posts: 414Member, Moderator

    @Kate from OhmConnect said:
    @darelldd thanks for your feedback. In fact, the reason we can't come up with the perfect solution for net negative (Solar) users is that the CAISO doesn't have a baseline for solar. Our algorithms are based off those set by the CAISO so that we can get paid. Since we aren't paid for solar users production, it puts us in a precarious situation.

    To clarify what Kate said, based on my understanding OhmConnect is paid for solar users' savings, but only the positive portion of our forecast/usage. However, they pay us for all of our savings, including the portion earned through net production. So, if your forecast is 1 kWH and you use 0 kWh, both you and OhmConnect make money based on 1 kWh of savings. If your forecast is 1 kWh and you use -1 kWh, you earn as if you saved 2 kWh while OhmConnect only gets paid for the 1 kWh. I was also confused by what seems like a tougher set of standards for solar users (for example, our percent reduction and status is calculated in a different way that's tougher on low-energy users, and using the filtering method @UkiwiS described causes us to miss events), but it makes a lot more sense when I understood the huge favor OC is currently doing us. By the way, they're lobbying for changes to the way CAISO treats solar users' baseline calculations, so it's possible this will all change for us at some point.

  • Solution = as long as usage is negative the streak continues. As this is equal to (better than) flipping main breaker for entire time,

  • UkiwiSUkiwiS San DiegoPosts: 1,558Member, Moderator

    @shawn-kleinsmith said:
    Solution = as long as usage is negative the streak continues. As this is equal to (better than) flipping main breaker for entire time,

    If the OhmHour is on a stormy/cloudy day with no sunshine, "usage" could be positive or maybe even slightly negative. In this scenario when a big negative number is expected OC would be penalized yet you think we should keep our streak? That doesn't seem fair to me.

    Solution for Solar Users = Participate ONLY when forecast is positive. We can do this right NOW by limiting our participation. The best thing about doing this is you don't have to worry about losing your streak.

  • I stated as long as usage remanded at zero. Positive = streak is lost. My understanding is OC does not get credit for solar production if grid usage is negative (I.e. Over producing, they only get credit to net = zero savings.)..... so yes it is a penalty on solar users not OC.

  • UkiwiSUkiwiS San DiegoPosts: 1,558Member, Moderator

    @shawn-kleinsmith said:
    I stated as long as usage remanded at zero. Positive = streak is lost. My understanding is OC does not get credit for solar production if grid usage is negative (I.e. Over producing, they only get credit to net = zero savings.)..... so yes it is a penalty on solar users not OC.

    You actually stated "as long as usage is negative"

    This implies to me that you are generating as the only way to have a negative usage is to be a net generator and for energy to be flowing back into the grid. Does "usage is negative" mean to you that you are pulling from the grid?

  • Rik WoudwijkRik Woudwijk Posts: 5Member

    I agree that a streak should never be lost while usage is negative. Don't penalize solar users for bad weather or force us to limit participating hours.

  • UkiwiSUkiwiS San DiegoPosts: 1,558Member, Moderator
    @Rik Woudwijk

    OhmConnect don't get paid for any of the electricity we generate during an OhmHour but You want to eat your cake and have it too?
  • Rik WoudwijkRik Woudwijk Posts: 5Member

    Why not award zero points without losing your streak...? We can't control the weather and should not be required to manipulate the system. OC should encourage energy savings including solar and other alternative energy.

  • UkiwiSUkiwiS San DiegoPosts: 1,558Member, Moderator

    @Rik Woudwijk said:
    Why not award zero points without losing your streak...? We can't control the weather and should not be required to manipulate the system. OC should encourage energy savings including solar and other alternative energy.

    OC bases their bids on what they expect us all to save combined as a group during an OhmHour. If it's cloudy and we're participating, we will miss the forecast and that puts them in a hole. That shortfall needs to be made up by others in the group and if it's not made up then there are financial penalties. As for "manipulating the system", it's not exactly onerous...you can virtually set your availability and forget it. I revisit it every 3 months or so and tinker it a little as the length of daylight hours changes.

    It's pretty easy to do and we all win. I have peace of mind that my streak is safe and OC knows based on my past history that they can rely on me to save a bunch. I miss out on a few afternoon OhmHours...no big deal.

  • Rik WoudwijkRik Woudwijk Posts: 5Member

    I have updated my participation hours. It would be nice to add a checkbox for solar customers to exclude daytime hours.

  • CraigWCraigW Posts: 44Member
    edited March 2018

    @Kate from OhmConnect said:
    @darelldd thanks for your feedback. In fact, the reason we can't come up with the perfect solution for net negative (Solar) users is that the CAISO doesn't have a baseline for solar. Our algorithms are based off those set by the CAISO so that we can get paid. Since we aren't paid for solar users production, it puts us in a precarious situation.

    So if you send out a OH to 100 users and 99 of them reduce an aggregate 49 kwh hours and I the solar user have a forecast of -1 kwh but come in at -2 kwh, bringing the group total to 50 kwh savings, OC's compensation is only based on the 49 kwh?

    Doesn't CAISO set a target of $dollars/kwh reduction? Or is the issue then send it out thinking they'll get 49 kwh hours because they ignore net negative users?

    Kind of immaterial, but I'm just curious. Like others, picking up our EV has made it all mute. Now OHs are restricted to the car charging window 6-10PM and actual real net load shifts of 7 kwh.

    I've always found the utilities and PUC's solar compensation to a be bit silly. Really, paying me net generation of 9 cents a kwh when the power goes out to the pole and basically back down the other side to my neighbor to be used at top tier rates wasn't profitable enough for them.

  • noosaaolnoosaaol Posts: 5Member

    @CraigW said:

    @Kate from OhmConnect said:
    @darelldd thanks for your feedback. In fact, the reason we can't come up with the perfect solution for net negative (Solar) users is that the CAISO doesn't have a baseline for solar. Our algorithms are based off those set by the CAISO so that we can get paid. Since we aren't paid for solar users production, it puts us in a precarious situation.

    So if you send out a OH to 100 users and 99 of them reduce an aggregate 49 kwh hours and I the solar user have a forecast of -1 kwh but come in at -2 kwh, bringing the group total to 50 kwh savings, OC's compensation is only based on the 49 kwh?

    Doesn't CAISO set a target of $dollars/kwh reduction? Or is the issue then send it out thinking they'll get 49 kwh hours because they ignore net negative users?

    Kind of immaterial, but I'm just curious. Like others, picking up our EV has made it all mute. Now OHs are restricted to the car charging window 6-10PM and actual real net load shifts of 7 kwh.

    I've always found the utilities and PUC's solar compensation to a be bit silly. Really, paying me net generation of 9 cents a kwh when the power goes out to the pole and basically back down the other side to my neighbor to be used at top tier rates wasn't profitable enough for them.

    @CraigW,
    I recently started leasing an EV and I have solar as well.
    As tempting as it is to charge during the ohm hour window to get my average usage up, I can't see myself coming out ahead since the cost per kWh for peak usage is far higher than off-peak, especially for PG&E's EV TOU.
    The only way to take advantage of charging during the OH window is to get a day's notice on the next ohm hour and plug in during the same hour to up the average a little and at least keep my streak going.
    I understand that OhmConnect's hands are tied because of how they get paid, but that definitely puts the solar panel/low power users/EV owners at a disadvantage to the regular user.

  • CKWMCKWM Fremont, CAPosts: 232Member
    edited April 2018

    @CraigW - I like where you're going. I've been wondering similar things myself. I wonder if this delves too much into revealing the magic behind OhmConnect (aka their business model and profit margins - which they would seem to like to keep under wraps). To OhmConnect's credit, I trust when they say that they give 80% of what they earn to users, and 20% to themselves. Nonetheless, I'm curious too about the details. I'm sure they've had these conversations in exec meetings well before our forum posts.

    @noosaaol I agree with and have seen a conversation about advanced notice here that I think we should support and get more attention to request OhmConnect to do for us as their users:

    https://forum.ohmconnect.com/discussion/comment/9555#Comment_9555

    The more advanced notice we get, the more potential gaming of our energy usage is possible. Maybe we shouldn't speak of such things and let them happen 1st?

  • UkiwiSUkiwiS San DiegoPosts: 1,558Member, Moderator

    @CraigW

    Your strategy is determined by the TOU time periods, the rates and how long you've had Solar.

    For me, Peak is Noon to 6pm, and I have 2 more years until Peak shifts to the 4-9 pm time slot. My PTO date (That's the date I received the "Permission to Operate" my Solar PV array) was July 2015 so the TOU periods that apply to me are valid till July 2020.

    For comparison with PG&E I'm on SDG&E's EV-TOU2 plan shown here:
    https://www.sdge.com/sites/default/files/regulatory/1-1-18 Schedule EV-TOU & EV-TOU-2 Total Rates Tables.pdf

    If you look at the "Total Electric Rate" for the lower EV-TOU2 and compare the "Super Off-Peak" and On-Peak rates for winter you'll see there is less than .02 cents per kWh cost difference. I don't really care when I charge as there is very little incentive for me to charge when the rates are lowest.

    Summer is another story altogether. You'll also note that the price gradient is substantially different, as in 30 cents per kWh between the 2 rates. Once I've had Solar for 5 years, that Peak rate time slot shifts to 4-9 pm. Not only will I get less for generation in that period but I'll pay a huge amount extra for use in that time slot. I'll be needing to re-evaluate things at that time.

    Example....this is yesterday's data.
    https://pvoutput.org/intraday.jsp?id=41203&sid=39052&dt=20180412&gs=0&m=0

    For instance, yesterday between Noon and 6pm I generated approx 20 kWh. Between 6-9 I used almost 22 kWh, so it was close enough to a wash and Zero cost.

    Now assume my Peak period was now 4-9. I only generated 4 kWh and in that period but used 22 for a net usage of 22-4=18 kWh. If yesterday had been Summer, and I was no longer grandfathered on the time periods it would have cost me $9. YIKES!

  • No Pain No GainNo Pain No Gain 93035Posts: 404Member

    @UkiwiS :o $9 ---- Yikes, indeed! LOL

  • UkiwiSUkiwiS San DiegoPosts: 1,558Member, Moderator

    @No Pain No Gain said:
    @UkiwiS :o $9 ---- Yikes, indeed! LOL

    That's a $9 increase for that 5 hour period....of one day!....sorry, I don't really see the humor!
    It cost me approx $13,000 to buy and install my PV Array and I made the decision based on the best information available at that time. Prior to going Solar I was paying $200 a month to SDG&E. My first couple of years with Solar cost me $10 a month so I saved $190 a month. In addition, when I got the EV I charged entirely at home and saved an additional $120 on gasoline. So "payback" for the Solar system was around 3.5 years (13000/310=41 months). At the time it was a "no brainer". Now it's even more complicated and the utilities have lobbied successfully to change the Peak Time. What was a $10 a month utility bill is going to become $150 (estimated). All the assumptions I made the original decision on have now changed and I'd probably do something different today, perhaps PV+BatteryStorage?
    OhmConnect helps mitigate the changes but in July 2020 I'll certainly need to re-evaluate the time I charge the EV.

  • SD ChipSD Chip Posts: 142Member

    @UkiwiS So...what I am seeing is the State's plan is working. Financial incentive to shift usage away from the peak period.

  • UkiwiSUkiwiS San DiegoPosts: 1,558Member, Moderator

    @SD Chip said:
    @UkiwiS So...what I am seeing is the State's plan is working. Financial incentive to shift usage away from the peak period.

    I cannot argue with that.

  • Steve ReedSteve Reed Posts: 111Member
    edited April 2018

    @UkiwiS said: For instance, yesterday between Noon and 6pm I generated approx 20 kWh. Between 6-9 I used almost 22 kWh, so it was close enough to a wash and Zero cost.

    Now assume my Peak period was now 4-9. I only generated 4 kWh and in that period but used 22 for a net usage of 22-4=18 kWh. If yesterday had been Summer, and I was no longer grandfathered on the time periods it would have cost me $9. YIKES!

    At least by May, when the summer rates kick in, there should be some additional production from 6-8pm that will help reduce that cost.

    I assume the a lot of the 22kWh used from 6-9 is your EV, so that could be moved to super off peak, and it would be closer to 1:1 credits with your daytime solar production. Without the EV charging, you probably will be able to produce enough during the 4-9pm peak period to cover all your 4-9pm usage Plus some and get back to basically net $0 for the day.

    I've had solar too long now to keep the 11-6pm rate period, but fortunately my Powerwalls can now zero out my home usage 4-9pm and all my solar will go to the grid during that time, so I should be able to stay less than $0 for the year (the EV credits offset the $10 "mandatory" bills)

  • No Pain No GainNo Pain No Gain 93035Posts: 404Member
    edited April 2018

    @UkiwiS said: That's a $9 increase for that 5 hour period....of one day!....sorry, I don't really see the humor!

    To me it was funny because my electric bill is usually between $100-$120. Someone saying Yikes! about a $9 electricity bill just struck me as comical. There's very little you can get with $9 these days, so to me it wasn't as shocking as it must've been to you. I don't know your financial situation, but hopefully that didn't throw your budget off. I guess when you're used to no charge for electricity, it's not nice to pay anything, even $9.

    And apparently the $9 you were talking about was just speculation of something that could've happened: "If yesterday had been Summer, and I was no longer grandfathered on the time periods it would have cost me $9. YIKES!"

  • UkiwiSUkiwiS San DiegoPosts: 1,558Member, Moderator

    @No Pain No Gain

    I wasn't referring to a $9 electric bill. I was referring to the change for a SINGLE 5 hour period...on ONE day. That change would amount to close to $270 for the month.

  • No Pain No GainNo Pain No Gain 93035Posts: 404Member

    @UkiwiS - If that were to happen, then I would be saying something stronger than "Yikes!" And, true, that would be no laughing matter.

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