Hidden cost of rooftop solar: Who should pay for maintenance? | RenewEconomy

Hidden cost of rooftop solar: Who should pay for maintenance?

If rooftop solar is part of the infrastructure to generate and distribute electricity, who should paid for maintenance – the home owner or network operator?


In the ongoing debate over whether Feed-In Tariff’s (FIT) are justified for residential solar PV one issue seems to be overlooked completely. And this is, who is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of these household solar systems?

Since electricity has been supplied to the home, there has been a basic rule and understanding that if you had any problems with your electricity supply you would phone your County Council or electricity retailer/distributor and they would deal with any issues throughout the network up to your meter box.  Any issues from your meter box into your home were your responsibility and you needed to get an electrician out to fix it.

This still stands today, but what happens if you have a rooftop solar PV system?

The rooftop solar PV system is purchased by the home owner, and installed on the purchaser’s property and becomes part of the owner’s property.

As almost everyone knows, under net metering the home owner receives the initial benefit of the electricity generated, and the excess is fed into the National Electricity Network (NEM) to the benefit of the electricity distributor to provide to other customers.  Under gross metering the entire amount of electricity generated is provided to the NEM.

Therefore, is there an argument that your privately purchased, and installed, rooftop solar PV system is, in fact, part of the national infrastructure to generate and distribute electricity to the market?  If so, is it the home owner’s responsibility to maintain the system or is the responsibility of your local distribution network operator?

As a home owner you are obligated to maintain your premises and carry out any necessary work, or maintenance, to ensure it remains in a safe and habitable nature to abide by your building insurance policy.  This means you must ensure that any fixtures to your house are in good working order and that any issues are identified early and dealt with where possible.

Therefore a rooftop solar PV system falls within the term ‘fixture’ on your buildings insurance policy and thus you are responsible for it’s upkeep.

This brings me to the point of this article.  Who should pay for this upkeep?

The average cost of an annual inspection for a household rooftop solar PV system is approximately $150.00.  The average cost of having your panels cleaned by a reputable solar installation company ranges from $10.00 – $20.00 per panel.

If a home owner has an average size, say 2KW, solar PV system on their roof with say 10 panels then they would be up for an annual fee of $330.00 if they are charged $18.00 per panel.

If a home owner has a 3KW system, with say 15 panels, then at $18.00 per panel they are up for $420.00.

If a home owner has an 8KW system, with say 36 panels, then they are up for an annual fee of $798.00.

Now this is where it gets interesting.  Let’s assume that the 2KW system has an annual output of approximately 2,000 KWh, the 3KW system has an output of 3,500KWh and the 8KW system has an output of 9,000KWh.  We can calculate a cost per KWh for the annual maintenance of each system.

For the 2KW the calculation is $330 / 2,000 = $0.17 per KWh.

For the 3KW the calculation is $420 / 3,500 = $0.12 per KWh.

And for the 8KW the calculation is $798 / 9,000 = $0.09 per KWh.

So for the average home owner who has installed a solar PV system, depending on the size system they have installed, will need to receive a FIT of between 9c per KWh to 17c per KWh just to cover the cost of maintaining their system.

The electricity sector says they cannot support a FIT greater then the 6c – 8c they currently offer in NSW as the wholesale electricity price is only around 6c per KWh and they also have the additional costs of maintaining the network, therefore they cannot pay a higher FIT without raising electricity usage charges.

Does this then mean that the electricity companies are responsible for maintaining household solar systems given they are technically generating infrastructure which supplies excess energy to the grid which the electricity companies ‘on-sell’?  They of course argue NO.

Is it time the NSW Government legislated to ensure household solar PV systems are regularly inspected to ensure they are operating efficiently and safely and set a FIT payable to the customer to cover the cost of the annual inspections, or do they legislate that the electricity companies must carry out annual inspections of all household solar PV systems, at their own expense (which can then be included in their network costs)?

Let’s start the debate.

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  1. Warwick 7 years ago

    Any other generator in the market, renewable or fossil fueled does not have its maintenance costs paid for by a distribution levy, what would the compelling argument be for this arrangement?

    Is my car part of the national transport infrastructure? Perhaps there should be a petrol tax on all users to pay for my maintenance? Maybe my bicycle too?

    Unfortunately, this idea would just add to distribution costs and add further weight to the argument of those opposed to renewables as being costly.

  2. Ivor O'Connor 7 years ago


  3. Chris Fraser 7 years ago

    If it was a right for the networks to receive PV electrons from me, it could be argued that they should maintain the system. But it isn’t their right, i could withdraw electrons, so i might keep maintaining the panels.

  4. Matt 7 years ago

    Technically, I guess that if you are selling electricity and recieving money for it, then you should be paying tax on the income. If you have invested your own money in infrastructure in order to earn the income, then you should also be able to depreciate the infrastructure assets as well. How much would the depreciation on a rooftop solar PV system be in c/kWh? More that 8 c/kWh?

    • David Wendorf 7 years ago

      So we should pay taxes on the power we buy, and the power we sell back at a lesser rate? You must work for the government. People don’t change to PV to make money. They change to PV to save money and save the environment. There’s no profit to be had for switching to PV. Unless you spend heaps on batteries, you still need to buy power for the 19 or more hours per day that the sun isn’t shining directly over your roof.

      • Michelle Thompson 5 years ago

        Well said.

  5. RobS 7 years ago

    Has this issue been raised anywhere? has an owner made a claim for a utility to maintain their system? is this an actual dispute anywhere in Australia or the world? Because if it had or were to occur it would add enormous fuel to the fire of those who claim solar owners are being subsidised by the rest and I have never heard of this actually occurring anywhere? Did the Author just make up this issue?

  6. Matthew Wright 7 years ago

    This is a terrible idea. I’m not sure why this story is being run. Annual inspections are not required. Who is inspecting your fridge, electric oven or electric cooktop annually? Gas appliances are much more dangerous and the majority are not getting inspections on those.

    This would just create a silly cost burden and should not see the light of day.

    • Scott Hollis 6 years ago

      Your fridge, oven and cooktop are not being used to cook your neibhors food, or keep it cold.. I think that is the point of this article. If it was, it may be reasonable to assume someone has to bear the responsibility for it’s upkeep, and that really shouldnt be the owner, because the owner is not benefiting in any way by heating up your meal for you. What it is saying is that if your privately owned system is being used to serve the public, then the discount recieved for your contribution should cover the cost to maintain your “public” system.

      • Matthew Wright 6 years ago

        Except you get paid at the gate for your electrons which are a commodity. You’re expected to cover maintenance yourself because you’ve been (possibly inandequately) compensated wtih 6c/kWh 8c/kWh etc.

  7. Steve 7 years ago

    Let’s not. As a PV owner, I feel this sort of stupidity should be rewarded with, well, it being called for the stupidity it is.

  8. solarsal 7 years ago

    I would never pay hundreds of dollars to someone to come and inspect and wash my panels! I have a wireless monitor which tells me what I am producing every day and I own a hose and a mop. I really can’t see the need for this.

  9. Dissenter 7 years ago

    Thanks for providing these facts. They are the missing evidence that rooftop solar is not such a good idea at all.

  10. Albert Sjoberg 7 years ago

    The Feed in Tariff should be based on the NEM price for electricity at the time that it is generated. That is all there is too it.
    The person or body responsible for the maintenance must remain the system owner. Anything on the customer’s side of the Meter is the customer’s to maintain.

    The cleaning and maintenance costs should then be carried by the customer.
    With a Gross FiT the high tariff offsets the cost of maintenance.
    With a Net FiT the cost is split between the income from the FiT and from the reduction in electricity account based on self consumption. If you can ensure that you consume every unit your system produces, rather than feeding to the grid, you benefit the most and so easily repay the system within a a few years.

    The only people that will not benefit from rooftop solar are those households that do not have anyone at home during the day and do not have appliances that can be set up to capitalise on the energy their system has generated.

    No right minded individual would consider charging the maintenance of a personal motor vehicle to the local bus company.

  11. Bob_Wallace 7 years ago

    I’ve been off the grid for over 20 years with solar.

    My total maintenance cost has been zip. Nada. Nothing.

    I do have to shovel off the snow, but that’s hardly a problem in Australia.

    Cleaning is a scam. It generally isn’t needed. Cleaning companies are one big racket.

    If you live in a very dusty place then you might need to hose your panels off a couple times a year. If you live close to a berry patch (as I did for a while) you might have to wash the bird poop off when the blackberries get ripe. That’s probably a five minute job, once you mix up some soapy water and get your hose and mop out.

  12. Andre Duszynski 7 years ago

    A recent study by UC San Diego states that although panels do lose some efficiency with the accumulation of dirt, this loss is minimal and thus doesn’t necessarily require cleaning – await rainfall instead to do the job.


    • Concerned 5 years ago

      Most people do not understand what they are buying or how it works. As described by Bob_Wallace below, if a person does a good job of monitoring and cleaning himself, all is good. However, if you don’t do this, you must be aware that solar panels are constructed with the solar cells in series and then multiple assemblies are placed in parallel. Therefore, a very small coverage (the size of a credit card) can knock out a large chunk of a given panel. Therefore, high dust areas and many trees with leaves can dramatically affect the efficiency of a system. This combined with length of day, angle to the sun, temperature, etc. has resulted in an over-all efficiency that is much lower (less than 50%) than the planned efficiency. If people do not have a high electric demand, they do not notice this very much; however, those with high demand are disappointed.
      I have an associate who runs a software company that monitors an industrial set up that has over 7000 panels and his monitors of these systems shows even a lower performance than described above.

  13. Sojin Muneshi 7 years ago

    More calls for solar welfare huh,
    Lets end the debate really quickly.
    Market Power Stations get paid 3-5c/kWh to generate into the market, PV is getting from 8c to 60c depending on the FIT.
    Market Power Stations (Wind, Hydro, Gas, Black and Brown Coal) pay for their maintenance out of their 3 to 5c/kWh income, why should anyone but the PV owner pay for their PV maintenance.
    “Why” shouldnt those who invested in the PV and benefit from it, fund its maintenance, rather than making the power industry (which in turn means all other customers) have to provide a further subsidy to PV?
    “Why” should networks fund the PV maintenance? their costs will go up and then they will have to pass that on to the PV customer’s neighbours while again the PV customer avoids the direct costs of the maintenance as well as most of the rising electricity bill as well!
    Its time renewable “journalists” stopped peddling such dribble!, and “thought bubbles”!
    If you cant afford the maintenance – then dont buy solar?
    I find it very hard to believe that even the smalled 1.5kW system doesnt provide annual benefit in excess of its maintenance costs.

  14. David Wendorf 7 years ago

    Inspections are probably a good idea, but annual inspections is severe overkill. Most inverters carry a 5 year warranty, so first inspections probably make sense at that point. Every 2-3 years after seems fair to me. We don’t get reimbursed by someone who never checks their chimney when their fire destroys our property, so neglected PV systems would be no different. Owners should take responsibility for maintenance.

    Those who were fortunate to install solar energy before the tariffs disappeared are more than compensated for the energy that they sell back to the grid – for a while. In some cases they’re receiving $.44 to $.52 per kWh. They can maintain their own systems.

    Anyone (like myself) wanting to install solar panels now in order to save on my electricity costs and reduce greenhouse emissions is getting ripped off by the government set retail FIT rates. In rural South Australia I have to purchase electricity for at least $.33/kWh including GST from the providers, but only get paid retail FIT of $.076 for what I pump back to the grid.

    Make the retail-FIT equal to the purchase price of electricity. My electricity is worth as much as what they’re selling to me, no more and no less. Then I’ll gladly maintain my own system with my savings. Otherwise I should be compensated for making everyone else’s air more breathable at my own expense.

    Everyone benefits from solar energy, whether they use it or not. We should start charging for the air that people breath per a ratio of carbon footprints. Those who oppose solar energy would quickly disappear from the face of the planet. Problem solved!

    • Michelle Thompson 5 years ago

      I agree I get 0.05cent per KW and FIT doesn’t even cover my nightly usage. Why should I pay .26 or more to buy back my own power I fed in during the day. I think we should get the same rate as they charge us. They are making money from me NOT SUBSIDISING me .

      • Greg Hudson 4 years ago

        +Michelle. You need a battery. Simple solution.

  15. Harvey 6 years ago

    I do agree with Mr. Matthew Wright. Have you ever heard that you buy a refrigerator, an air-con e.t.c… gives you service free?

  16. WHC III 5 years ago

    Don’t give the PV lobby any ideas about inspections. There will be new laws enacted to support it soon. My question is how do the poor maintain PV panels under Obama’s directive to install them on their homes? Is it a short sighted way to lower the monthly electric bill?

    • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

      Anyone have a dressing recommendation to go with that word salad? Perhaps a raspberry-walnut or does it call for something stronger like blue cheese?

  17. James Marcelo 5 years ago

    In regards to that whole spiel you went through did you consider on how much of the kws the average household uses during the day? Using it during the day is obviously the best way to get the maximum benefit from the system there especially since the Feed-in tariffs have dropped to 6cents nowadays but for the people still getting 44 – 60 cents it’s definitely a good idea to get a service on a regular basis because at the end of the day it is an investment, I actually get my system serviced every 12 months from Green Initiatives basically cos I do have a customer relationship with them so when the batteries come out or if sanctuary tries to cut my feed-in tariff and I need an upgrade I can get insight on the best opportunities for me by them and if anything new comes up they call me. So I was lucky to get 60 cents feed-in tariff and a 10 year contract for that so I’m still on it, so what’s that? 5 kW system usually about 500 kW each quarter 2000 x .60 = 1200$ 24 panels service cost 350$ 1200 – 350 = 850$ savings been getting that give or take for 5-6 years now 5 x 850$ = 4250$ savings since they were installed plus the increase on the property if I were to sell, I did have recalled components in my isolator and Green Initiatives fixed it straight away so if I do intend to sell I’m confident that the solar powers are safe for the new tenants and providing substantial amount of savings on the electricity bill so anyone down the east coast of Australia look them up even ask your installers sadly my solar company went into liquidation so I couldn’t even claim for my warranty that’s when green initiatives came in claimed my warranty from the manufacturer and installed a new inverter

    • Other Voice 5 years ago

      The issue is that you should be getting $0.00 as a feed-in tarriff. This is solar welfare trying to prop up an inefficient and unreliable power source.

      • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

        What foolishness.

        Back under your bridge….

        • Other Voice 4 years ago

          If the solar homeowner does not pay to maintain the grid and does not ensure that their neighbors have electricity when needed (reliability) then solar FIT should be $0. Arizona and Nevada recently slashed FIT to $0.


          Bob, your arguments are foolish and governments are waking up to the raw deal of roof top solar.

          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            If the utility is taking your extra solar production then they should be paying you at the wholesale market rate for that time period.

            If you’re connected to the grid and use it as “storage” and backup then you should pay your share of the infrastructure cost.

            Don’t confuse “governments waking up” with efforts on the part of fossil fuel interests to slow the move to renewables.

            Learn about panel and system efficiency and the cost of electricity produced. Utility solar in the US is now returning a 30% CF and the cost (unsubsidized) is dropping below $0.05/kWh making it the second cheapest way to generate electricity.

          • Other Voice 4 years ago

            The utilties are currently forced to take the excess solar because of ridiculous tarrifs and unfair trade practices, the electricity later is getting a raw deal. Rooftop solar does not pay to maintain the transmission lines and infrastructure, is not held to reliability standards nor regulated by NERC. Either you guarantee reliability and follow the same rules, pay the same fees that other generators pay or get $0 from rate payers.

          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            Some places require utilities to purchase solar from end users. That is generally a short term support designed to kickstart the local solar installation industry.

            In the US all generation technologies have received some sort of subsidy, either direct or by allowing external costs to be passed on to consumers and taxpayers. Coal, oil, hydro and nuclear have received vastly more subsidy than wind and solar. Coal is subsidized around the world as no country requires coal to pay for the health and environmental damage caused by smokestack pollution.

            If end users supply electricity to the grid then they should receive a fair payment, just as others receive. Transmission costs apply only to those generators who use the transmission system. End user solar goes directly into the local distribution system.

            Actually coal, hydro, and nuclear plants don’t pay transmission costs even though their electricity may be shipped many miles. They sell their electricity to the utility and the utility pays the cost to move the electricity. Those costs are included in monthly utility bills.

      • Greg Hudson 4 years ago

        No, the FIT should be at the wholesale price, just like any other generator.

        • Other Voice 4 years ago

          Other generators maintain their power source, pay for transmission costs, and ensure reliability 24/7. Rooftop solar does nothing that a typical generator guarantees to rate payers, so they should get nothing. Arizona and Nevada have already taken this stance, soon other states will follow.

          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            Other generators do not always maintain their systems. And sometimes their system break. For example, Fort Calhoun nuclear was offline for over a year. Browns Ferry was offline much longer. Nuclear and coal plants go offline without advance notice quite frequently.

            Non-constant supply and constantly changing demand are simply things grid operators deal with. They usually maintain some amount of spinning reserve, thermal plants and hydro operating below 100% output, that they can ramp up quickly to meet demand. And they have gas peakers standing by which can start generating in less than 15 minutes. Batteries are starting to replace some of those fossil fuel based generators because they react faster and cost less.

            You simply have to accept that wind and solar are being utilized on grids around the world in greater and greater amounts. That is simply what is happening. Some of the wind comes from privately owned small turbines, some of the solar comes from house roof tops. Germany gets about 5% of its total electricity from residential rooftops.

            If a particular homeowner fails to get the leaves or snow off their panels they simply make less electricity and that’s their loss. The grid works around them.

          • Other Voice 4 years ago

            You have a fundamental misunderstanding of how the grid functions. Fossil, nuclear, hydro is predictable and reliable, meaning the grid operator can ask for 100 MW of power at 6 pm and fossil, nuclear, hydro generators can meet the demand, rooftop solar cannot. Rooftop owners do not compensate for transmission maintenance, grid imbalaces due to intermittent generation, are not regulated by NERC, the EPA, etc.. The grid is less reliable with renewables, the grid is stressed more due to imbalace, electricity costs more because of the government subsidies and FIT, and the poor are the ones that must eat the cost. Looks like the Trump administration and several states are going to slash feed in tarrifs.

            Also, let’s look at some facts. Solar accounted for .9% of power generated in 2016, and a mouse fart of the. 9% came from rooftop.


            Arizona and Nevada are just the first states to start reassessing feed in tarrifs, time to slash net metering.


          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            I have a good understanding of how grids operate. If it’s a fully market driven grid then the operator purchases the least expensive electricity available for a specific time block. It’s becoming the case that wind and solar (including rooftop solar) are the least costly suppliers so they will get purchased first.

            If cheap wind and solar are not available then the buy goes to the next cheapest supplier. Perhaps hydro. The last source called on is peaker gas because their price is usually quite high.

            “Also, let’s look at some facts. Solar accounted for .9% of power generated in 2016, and a mouse fart of the. 9% came from rooftop.”

            If you look back in time you will find years in which coal accounted for 0% of power generated. Over time coal grew to close to 60% of the supply. Patience, grasshopper. Change often takes time.

            Here’s what is happening in the US. Wind and solar are beginning to replace fossil fuels.


            Slowly at first, but accelerating as costs drop and the industries mature. That’s how transitions generally occur. Slow, accelerate, reach a somewhat steady rate, and take over.


            Here’s US solar taking off…


            Here’s US wind taking off…


            I hope you realize how much wind and solar prices have fallen and that they are still falling. Lower prices drive adoption faster.

            Feed in tariffs and net metering had a role to play earlier in rooftop solar. The cost of panels was very high and needed market growth to lower prices. Germany, Spain and Italy did much of the heavy lifting for the rest of the world. They created economic conditions that led to large scale installation and panel prices plummeted.

            Now it’s time to fade out FiTs and other subsidies. Net metering needs to go because it’s unfair to utility companies.

          • Other Voice 4 years ago

            I agree with your statement “it’s time to fade our FITs and other subsidies.” Then we will see of solar survives.

          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            Of course solar will survive. Wind and solar are already our least expensive way to generate electricity – unsubsidized. And they are on route to become half or less as expensive.


            These are US prices. I think the same holds for AU although wind may lag a bit behind for now.

            Rooftop solar will depend on the local price of electricity and the cost of storage. People will still install. It’s just a question of what percentage of buildings will have solar. Some people won’t put out the effort if the return is small.

          • Greg Hudson 4 years ago

            Even if your weird thinking was even half correct, how much do you really think a solar home exporting maybe 10kWh per day would be up for? Compare that to the price the big generators pay, and divide it by very large bucket loads for a few kWh for the home solar system. The answer would be a miniscule amount. Too small to even contemplate. The costs of collection would probably be more than the amount earned through exports. Basically it is a DUMB idea.
            You also seem to forget that solar on a roof supplies power to all the other local residents (non solar). It does not (generally) travel zillions of kilometers across the country and end up being used somewhere else. (Line losses alone would negate the small amount produced), so your theory/plan has some major flaws. Exactly how far do you think a measly 10kW would travel from the source, assuming it was the only source of generation – i.e. one house was the ‘only’ source of power?

  18. Other Voice 5 years ago

    Yet another reason why solar is a terribly expensive way to produce electricity. Joe Schmo is not going to climb a ladder every week to clean the panels. Most people only clean their windows once per year!

    What is the efficiency loss from bird droppings, residue, pollen and film that will build on each panel?
    50%- 70% loss? The ROI is terrible.

    Cheaper to put in new insulation and thermal barriers.

    • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

      Oh, bull. At a test site in Arizona they did not clean the panels at all for over a year. 1% loss.

      Insulation is a lower hanging fruit. But insulation only lowers electricity needs. It doesn’t generate electricity.

      • Other Voice 5 years ago

        One test site in a desert does not accurately portray efficiency losses. States with high humidity, pollen, bird traffic, hurricanes, rain etc. will easily see a drastic reduction in power output. Most people only clean their windows once per year. The ROI on rooftop solar is untenable and too expensive. Fossil, nuclear and hydro power is the only way to produce scalable and inexpensive electricity.

        • Edeltraud Baker 5 years ago

          Other Voice, have another look into the issue. Maybe you are right and the getting the maintenance done is expensive. What’s wrong with doing it yourself? I am 65 and go on the roof to do the cleaning. It cost me a couple of buckets of water and a tiny bit of vinegar, which gets everything looking like new. Doing the cleaning on a regular basis (opening your eyes and look and you will know if it’s needed) and you enjoy solar energy for much longer. Everything needs maintenance. Just seems that younger generations are not so much willing to use some ‘ellbow-grease’.
          Energy from fossil fuel, everyone knows by now, is the most destructive way and costly. There is no clean fossil fuel energy.
          Energy from nuclear; what happens with the waste? where do you go with it?
          For both fossil and nuclear you need to do extensive mining.
          Hydro power for commercial production; you need to build a dam and a canal for inflow and outflow; you need to control the outflow temperature of the used water; if the temperature is just 1degreeC higher than the receiving waterbody, aquatic life will die off – the fish will lose their food source and disappear into the nowwhere – people get displaced and often lose their livelihood – habitat of animals are getting disturbed or lost.
          Why bother if maintenance of solar equipment is a bit higher?
          Costs for ‘restoring’ the environment, animal and human habitat is far greater!
          SOLAR is the way !

          • Other Voice 5 years ago

            Your plan is now for the individual home owner to be responsible for maintenance and efficiency. I agree! The tilities should now issue fines if the homeowner is not producing the demanded electricity from the grid. Also the homeowner needs to be responsible for the grid infrastructure payments (transformers, transmission lines, downed power lines). The rest of us expect electricity 24 hours a day and don’t want our electrical bills to go up.

            Finally solar companies state the degradation in your equipment decreases 5% per year. The taxpayers and electricity users expect rooftop solar owners to replace equipment when degradation reaches 30% (6 years). What is the replacement costs for all of the degraded equipment? Why should the poor and middle class be paying more for a commodity (electricity) to subsidize people that do not maintain their equipment, replace their equipment, and maintain the infrastructure that supplies the commodity to the rest of us?

            The costs for all maintenance should be paid by the homeowner, grid maintenance should be paid proportionally as well, and rooftop solar owners should be fined their promised electricity to the rest of us is not generated.

          • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

            No, solar panels lose from 0.1% to 0.4% per year. That 5% claim is wildly out of line.

            The oldest installed solar array was still producing over 95% of new at age 35. It will get taken down and retested in a couple years when it hits 40 years.

            Question: Do we fine coal plants and nuclear plants when they go offline unexpectedly and fail to deliver power?

          • Other Voice 5 years ago

            Of course! Grid stability is pretty important. All the solar propaganda regarding all the so-called power saving is a complete fiction. If 1 GW of solar power is built, 1 GW of fossil, nuclear or hydro must be built in case the sun does not shine, efficiency losses on the panels or improper maintenance. This is a complete waste of resources. Solar needs to start playing by the same rules. Improper maintenance = fines, the EPA needs to start tracking water usage, solar producers needs to start paying their share of grid maintenance.



          • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

            If a GW of nuclear is built a GW of something else has to be built to fill in for the 10% of the time that nuclear will be offline for routine maintenance and refueling. And for all the time nuclear will be offline for other reasons.

            If a GW of FF is built a GW….

            If a GW of hydro is built a GW….

            It’s all the same, bucko. No source runs 24/365. The issue is what are the least expensive sources needed to meet demand 24/365.

          • Greg Hudson 4 years ago

            +OV ”All the solar propaganda regarding all the so-called power saving is a complete fiction.”
            My power bill was $1800/year prior to installing solar (without battery). After installing, my bill dropped to $161/year. Not fiction. FACT.

          • Other Voice 4 years ago

            Good for you! The article is whether you should get paid for excess power, not how much you’ll save. But looking at your cost savings of ~$1650/year the savings seem very small when compared to a 20-30k installation cost on a typical home. That would take 20 years to pay off.

          • Edeltraud Baker 5 years ago

            One Voice, if I buy equipment, a machine or whatever that I want to use for my own purpose, I have to be responsible for maintenance.
            E. g.: If you buy a fridge, washing machine, motor bike, car or whatever, who is responsible for the maintenance – the seller or the buyer? The same, if you buy your own solar system for your convenience – you have the benefit of not having to deal with any load shedding or whatever. If you connect your system to the grid and supply the excess, you get paid for it (or aren’t you?). So what’s wrong with doing your own maintenance? If you want to benefit – you also have to add you input!
            Climate change is for real! We are in Zambia, we feel and see it every day! The greatest damage was done by developed countries. You can check the statistics for it – use Google! It’s now up to us to find solutions and to use renewable energy that is clean!

          • Other Voice 5 years ago

            I want to run my refrigerator, tv’s, freezer, washing machine/dryer, dishwasher for 24 hours per day. Electricity is a commodity, I want electricity 24 hours per day. Solar cannot produce electricity 24 hours per day and is not reliable (does not produce electricity when no sun). If you want to produce electricity and expect others to pay you for your excess then you should be regulated like all other electricity producing power generators. You should also get paid the same electricity rates, pay your share of the grid infrastructure (power lines, transformers), etc..

            If you want to go off the grid and not use electricity from other power producers then go off the grid. If you want to stay connected to the grid then you should pay like the rest of power producers to maintain the grid.

          • Edeltraud Baker 5 years ago

            Other Voice, now we are going off track with the discussion on the hidden costs of roof top solar systems.
            My final reply is – I agree with you in the last paragraph. However, it seems you haven’t done your research on solar panels and systems and how they work. The new solar panels produce energy through light, even moonlight. The availability of energy/electricity is depending on the battery bank. Millions of people are relying totally on solar. Many towns in Germany (a country with little sunshine), compared to the Mediterranean and others. Check up on the City of Freiburg, Germany, read and read http://www.inquisitr.com/1982709/germany-builds-a-solar-city-that-produces-four-times-the-energy-it-consumes-video/
            This is it for me now. I am not coming back to this.

          • Greg Hudson 4 years ago

            + ‘Other Voice’
            ”Solar cannot produce electricity 24 hours per day and is not reliable (does not produce electricity when no sun).”
            Maybe you forget, the sun is always shining on the planet somewhere, so solar is actually available 24/7

          • Other Voice 4 years ago

            Greg, that is ridiculous. Electricity in Australia cannot be used in California. Electricity in China cannot be used in Brasil.

          • Greg Hudson 4 years ago

            I didn’t say it could. This guy is making stupid comments, and deserved a stupid answer (even thought it is technically correct). I didn’t mention any countries in particular…

          • Other Voice 4 years ago

            You’re spreading complete fiction about unreliable solar, it is not available 24/7. If it is not reliable don’t expect any payment for excess power produced.

          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            No generation is available 24/7. Nuclear is available 90% of the time, coat 85%. Some hydro plants are available less than 50% of the time.

            Utilities are going to buy from anyone who has power to sell if they need power at that time. The source doesn’t matter when it comes to lighting your light bulb.

          • Other Voice 4 years ago

            Reliability for solar is close.to 10-20%. It is an unpredictable power source. The grid is less reliable when solar is.introduced so rate payers should payless for it or not at all. To generate 1000 MW of solar 1 GW of solar needs to be installed because of the terrible capacity factor. Further rooftop solar owners are not paying their share for grid maintenance, repair, etc..


          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            I’m sorry, you’re a very ignorant person when it comes to grid/solar issues.

            “Reliability for solar is close.to 10-20%.” has no meaning.

            Perhaps you’re trying to address solar capacity factor. In that case there are few places where annual CFs fall below 15% and US utility solar with single axis tracking now reports 30% CF numbers.

            ” It is an unpredictable power source.”

            Solar is highly predictable. Look up sunrise and sunset for tomorrow. Look at your local weather report. You’ll have a very good idea of when solar will be available and in what quantity.

            Look at your local radar on the web. You’ll see what the sunshine conditions will be over the next few hours.

            Grid operators do much higher quality monitoring. They know hours in advance of when a cloud will pass over a large solar farm. Or what portion of the rooftops in their catchment area will have sunshine an hour or two from now. (They have no idea if a coal or nuclear plant will suddenly shut down.)

            “To generate 1000 MW of solar 1 GW of solar needs to be installed because of the terrible capacity factor.”

            That sentence illustrates your ignorance. Had you said something like ‘to generate 1000 MWh of electricity, daily average, 1 GW of solar needs to be installed’ we could look at your numbers. But you don’t know enough to even couch your argument in a meaningful form.

            Now. How much solar would we need to install in order to generate a average daily 1,000 MWh (megawatt hour, not megawatt)?

            Assume US utility solar with a 30% CF.

            1,000MWh / 0.3 = 3,333 MW of panels.

            Assume a rooftop in the middle of the US, 18.75% CF.

            1,000 MWh / 0.1875 = 5,333 MW of panels. Just over 0.5 GW.

            (Not even foggy Seattle has a CF as low as 10%.)

          • Giles 4 years ago

            You are breathtakingly ignorant. As Bob says, you don’t understand reliability. Capacity factors in Australia are above 30 per cent. the CSIRO – the independent science research institute – says having 30 per cent solar and wind is “trivial” and doesn’t make grids unstable at all.

          • Giles 4 years ago

            You have no understanding. I have solar, and I pay as much grid fees as anyone else. In Australia, fixed costs of $1.50 a day, or $500 a year. Most get paid 6c for exports and it is sold next door for four or five times as much. The utility pockets the difference.

          • Other Voice 5 years ago

            Your neighbors do not rely on your refrigerator, washing machine, etc… If your fridge, washing machine fails it only affects you. However if you put solar on your roof and expect others to pay for the electricity, it affects the neighbors when your equipment fails.

            Solar is unreliable and inefficient.

          • Michelle Thompson 5 years ago

            As A solar family, can you tell me why the electricity companies can pay me 5c for my feed in tariff and then have the nerve to charge me .28c approx. for me to by back my power so as we can use at night. Is this fair. I am making the effort for then environment that is costing me more not less.

          • Other Voice 5 years ago

            Electricity rate payers (all of the people paying for electricity) should be paying you $0.00 for your electricity. It is not reliable and cannot be generated 24 hours a day. Other forms of power can generate in all conditions, day, night, rain, shine.

      • Other Voice 5 years ago


        According to this article AZ solar loses are 7-15% each year. Yikes!! How much does all that water cost to wash the panels?

        Time to start regulating solar as a water waster. Not too environmentally friendly!

        • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

          If you’ve got a site where soiling is an actual problems then clean the panels.

          There are already robotic systems that clean panels automatically using very little water. It’s most about blowing off the dust, washing off what remains, capturing the runoff water, and reusing it.

          Now, tell us. What’s your anti-solar motivation? Financial? Political? Or something else?

          • Other Voice 5 years ago

            If solar uses ANY water it should not be considered “clean power.” The EPA is now regulating water use for power generators. As such Solar should be regulated by the EPA as a water user. If Solar wants to make money producing electricity then play by the same rules as hydro, nuclear, gas, oil and coal power generation.

            I have no motivation but to keep the cheapest, most reliable power grid in the entire world and the ensure the poor and middle class are not raped financially by lies from the environmental lobby.

            If solar rooftop users want to go completely off the grid then do it! There is no issue with solar users wanting to go off the grid, assuming all risks with losing power, food spoiling, etc..

            The issue is when solar rooftop wants to stay connected to the grid and have other homeowners pay for their electricity. In that scenario solar rooftop should be regulated as a power gen facility, pay their proportional share for grid maintenance (transmission lines, transformers, breakers, etc..). Paying solar rooftop owners an artificially high rate/kwHR is a bad deal for the American public.

          • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

            Got it. There’s no “clean power” because all generation uses some water. Guess you better get some bee hives so that you can make yourself some candles.

          • Other Voice 5 years ago


            Rain can make solar panels dirtier, less efficient and again an impractical power generation source. Using potable water for cleaning sure doesn’t qualify for “clean power.”

            The false advertising by rooftop solar companies needs to stop. Solar requires maintenance of the panels, requires water to clean, they will not last 20 years as stated by most manufacturers, and the power output decreases every year. It also seems that rooftop solar companies are recommending replacing an entire roof before installing the panels. Yikes, costs start skyrocketing for the homeowner.

            Add in the price solar rooftop should be reimbursed for ($0.04-0.05 per kwHR) and the ROI becomes terrible.

          • Bob_Wallace 5 years ago

            Just you found something online that spreads doubt doesn’t make it true. We’ve got many panel installations well over 20 years old and they are still going fine.

            If there was a problem with rainwater we’d see solar farms cleaning with Perrier.

            Solar is working. Kicking butt.

          • Greg Hudson 4 years ago

            I used to use captured rain water to was my panels. Cost me nothing, used no water from the mains. Easy solution for anyone.

  19. Other Voice 5 years ago


    According to the article above not cleaning panels may lose 30-60% of power output. The ROI for your investment looks bad regardless if you clean or don’t clean the panels.

    • Greg Hudson 4 years ago

      If someone has dirty panels, is is primarily THEIR LOSS for not cleaning them. If they lose 30% or 60% it is no-ones problem except the owner. The rest of this article is pure BS IMO.

      • Other Voice 4 years ago

        Then roof top solar should get nothing for generating extra power. If you expect rate payers to pay for your excess energy then you need to maintain, clean, inspect and guaranteereliability.

        • Greg Hudson 4 years ago

          More bullshit. I did not say I expect rate payers to pay for anything. In fact the opposite, as most solar homes are currently underpaid, the FIT (feed in tariff) should be based on the wholesale price, at the time it is exported, and for the amount of kWh exported. If the solar owner is dumb enough to be exporting when when all other solar owners are exporting then the price will drop, and they will earn very little to nothing (market forces are in play). Those with a battery, who can export based on wholesale price would really be the only ones making any export credits, and even then, as more people get batteries, the lower the amount earned will be due to many battery owners exporting at the same time. Eventually, the big power stations will just shut down, because they simply can’t make a profit (which would be the best plan of all). No need for ratepayers to pay for anything. And if it was designed like it is here in Australia, there are no subsidies for solar either (in most cases). There is a reason solar installs are so cheap here (even with huge labor costs) and that is because of the sheer scale (number) of panels being installed every day.

          • Other Voice 4 years ago

            Greg, that is the biggest tall tale I’ve ever heard. Solar homes should be compensated $0/kwhr because they make the grid less stable, increase electricity costs for other rate payers, and increase the wear and tear on transmission infrastructure. Who paid for the transmission lines, transformers, substations, and power lines that connect a house to the grid? In the U.S. utilities built and maintain the infrastructure and rate payers pay a portion of their power bill for maintenance, but rooftop owners do not pay their share. Rooftop solar can only generate during the day (unless you have an expensive battery array), but depend on fossil, nuclear, and hydro at night. But they are not paying for the backup/reserve power needed on cloudy days. Expecting to get paid by other rate payers yet having no reliability standards, FIT should be $0. Solar companies in.the U.S. are going bankrupt as subsidies and FIT cost shifting is ended. Now if a home owner wants to.disconnect from the grid then no need to.pay for grid maintenance,, upgrading infrastructure, etc.


          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            “Greg, that is the biggest tall tale I’ve ever heard. Solar homes should be compensated $0/kwhr because they make the grid less stable, increase electricity costs for other rate payers, and increase the wear and tear on transmission infrastructure.”

            That’s an ignorant statement. Stop it before you further
            embarrass yourself.

          • Greg Hudson 4 years ago

            G’Day Bob. Nice to see you down here on an Australian web site. The ‘other voice’ sounds like a FF troll to me, uttering complete BS all day long. Not only are his statements inaccurate, they lack any sense. The guy is a total FW.

          • Other Voice 4 years ago

            I guess you two work for the Solar industry, any respectable industry insider would be aware of solar limitations. Keep your cheerleading but it doesn’t change facts.

          • Greg Hudson 4 years ago

            I don’t know what Bob gets up to, but I own a software company (100% solar/renewably powered since 2011).

          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            I’ve been off the grid for over 30 years – solar.

            I know how utility companies operate because I’ve been running one. A very small one with only one customer. But I do what larger companies do. I use the least expensive source of electricity available at the time to meet demand.

            The Sun coming out from behind a cloud is not a disruptive event. It stops the flow from batteries to load, supplies the load directly from the panels and, if there is extra, charges my battery.

            If necessary I go to my thermal generation source. I fire up my generator.

            I’ve never heard of a wire wearing out because electricity flowed through it.

          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            OK, buster. Let’s take your claim and see how you support it.

            “they (rooftop solar) make the grid less stable”

            How does that happen? Show us some documentation to back up your claim.

            “increase electricity costs for other rate payers”

            Aside from an subsidies that might be rolled back into the cost of electricity as happens in Germany is there anything else that increases the cost of electricity? Documentation?

            “increase the wear and tear on transmission infrastructure”

            How does that happen? Please explain and provide support from a reliable source.

          • Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

            Seems to me that he’s (he?) one of those guys who gets an idea fixed in his head and can’t take in facts that might prove his idea wrong.

            Rather than learning from input they spend all their energy fighting against facts. Very common behavior with climate change deniers.

            A FF troll? Naw. They wouldn’t waste money on someone who doesn’t understand the basics. And they’d give them better talking points.

          • Other Voice 4 years ago

            It is a true statement. Be embarrassed if you want.

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