Note: The information contained in this periodical weblog may be outdated. This was my personal weblog published before January 1, 2015. Since then I have been the co-owner and Principal Solar Designer at Florida Solar Design Group.

FPL On Call Program with Solar Energy

Many Southwest Florida residents subscribe to FPL’s demand shedding On Call Program. This program reduces your electric bill by providing credits for allowing the utility company to turn off certain appliances when utility demand exceeds production capacity. What happens if you have FPL’s On Call program and you install a solar energy system?

The good news is that FPL still lets you participate in the program, even though you will likely use much less energy than the typical utility customer, and your demand may be less than the average utility customer. However, the program conditions state that you cannot receive more credit than 40% of your non-fuel electricity charges.

Let’s go through an example using the most popular option, the Cycle Option that allows FPL to shut off your air conditioning and heating for no more than 15 minutes each half hour for up to a total of six hours per day. This option saves you about $2.58 per month on your bill, or $31 per year. Under this option, if you consume less than 131 kilowatt-hours of utility electricity (net), your On Call credit will be reduced.

131kWh x $0.04914 = $6.44 x 40% = $2.58

(The non-fuel utility rate is currently $0.04914 for the first 1,000kWh consumed)

The average FPL residential customer consumes 1,100kWh of electricity per month. To reach the threshold where your On Call credit is reduced, you would have to eliminate 88% of an average electricity bill with solar energy, and at that point the On Call credit would be reduced proportionally.

If you participate in all of the available On Call options, your monthly savings can be as high as $11.42 per month. In this case, your On Call savings will begin to be prorated if you consume less than 580kWh per month.

This might not seem fair, as solar electric customers place less of a demand on the utility grid already. It would be nice if FPL rewarded solar electric customers for helping them manage demand, but the utility cannot control when solar energy systems produce power, so the benefit to the utility is not reliable. Still, solar electric customers could theoretically place the same demands on the utility company as a non-solar customer during times of peak utility demand, and some would argue that the On Call credit should be the same for all customers regardless of total net energy delivered in the billing period.

This is a debate in which both sides have legitimate arguments. At this point, FPL does not distinguish between customer types in the residential On Call program. Clearly there is a potential impact for netmetering customers with On Call, but the loss of On Call savings should be greatly outweighed by the solar energy savings because you receive credit for both fuel and non-fuel usage with netmetering.

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