A few weeks ago we installed some energy monitoring equipment in Painters Hall and our LEED Platinum cottage. It tracks total consumption, PV production and ground-source heat pump (HVAC) energy consumption. The results have been fascinating!

The hardware is made by TED (The Energy Detective), which comes with its own software for viewing data. But TED also communicates with Google Powermeter, a free software program that can be accessed on the internet. Owners can log in at their computer to view real-time energy use and trending over time. Also Google Powermeter can send a summary by email each week. The hardware is around $250 and comes with sensors and a wireless gateway, as well as a little wireless display that tells you in real-time what you are using and at what cost.

The above photo shows real-time energy use. We are netting -14kW on Painters Hall, overproducing about $1.80 worth of electricity per hour. This is on top of total building consumption. With real time energy display, we can isolate certain electrical loads to see what kind of power is being consumed.

Click here to see some screen shots of the google power meter system of Painters Hall and the cottage. We’ll post more about our energy savings as we get more data!

Here are some links for further reading:
http://www.google.com/powermeter/about/about.html
http://www.theenergydetective.com/ted-5000-overview.html
http://blog.google.org/search/label/PowerMeter

http://www.techwandering.com/2010/02/02/monitor-your-electricity-usage-with-ted-the-energy-detective/

While we’re on the subject . . . Solar PV is going to get some attention as a political issue this year. The Statesman Journal recently ran an article, Financial incentives bolster a push for solar, about a proposed pilot program that will provide payments to some businesses and homeowners who install solar systems (after July 1).

A new pilot project will reward a select group of homeowners and businesses with monthly checks for installing solar cells. Customers of the state’s largest utilities will be funding the program through their electric bills. The owner of a 3-kilowatt system, a size typically installed on homes, could get monthly payments of more than $100 during 15 years, according to the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

. . .

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski introduced the solar incentive concept to the 2009 Legislature after seeing a similar program in Germany, said Rem Nivens, a spokesman for the governor’s office. The PUC recently issued rules for the four-year pilot program.

“Right now, it’s just a test to see how many people will participate,” Nivens said. The program will help determine if a “feed-in tariff” is a viable option to increase the use of solar power in Oregon, he said.

The folks at Tanner Creek Energy, who installed Pringle Creek’s panels, might do a presentation on feed-in tariffs in the next few weeks at Painters Hall. Check back for details.

This photo was with the SJ article. It shows the solar panels on the roof of the Painters Hall

–santiago