Tag Archives: ConnectDER

Are utilities co-opting community solar? Critics question term’s use

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

In Omaha, critics say the public utility’s community solar offering doesn’t share enough benefits with participants.

Last month, Omaha’s public utility unveiled details for a program that will help customers buy solar power without having to install their own panels. Omaha Public Power District’s community solar program follows a year of stakeholder meetings, but some critics say it’s a stretch to call it “community solar” because participants won’t share enough of the financial benefits. “It’s not really community solar,” said Don Preister, a customer who recently put solar panels on his home. Click here to read more.

Photo: PressReleaseFinder / Creative Commons

ABOUT KAREN UHLENHUTH
Karen spent most of her career reporting for The Kansas City Star, focusing at various times on local and regional news, and features. More recently, she was employed as a researcher and writer for a bioethics center at a children’s hospital in Kansas City.

MORE BY KAREN

New connection technology is cutting cost of solar installation

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

ConnectDER, as it’s known, generally eliminates the need to enter a home and it greatly reduces the amount of electrical work required. “It allows you to inject the solar on the customer side of the meter prior to getting into the home,” said Michael Shonka, a solar installer who has put the new equipment in a half-dozen homes in the Omaha area.  “This means we can cut out $1,000 to $2,000 worth of cost in the system because you don’t need electricians to go through foundations trying to get to the service panel, and you don’t need to rearrange the panel.” Read more here.

Photo: The ConnectDER device allows a solar array to be connected directly to the meter, eliminating the need for electrical work inside the home.

ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN UHLENHUTH
Midwestern poultry farmers cut bills in half with new heating system: Maintaining a tropical temperature for his turkeys, even through a Nebraska winter, used to cost Bill Bevans in the neighborhood of $60,000 annually. Not any longer.

Department of Energy Success Story – Connection Without the Costs

Consumers who are planning to go solar can now save hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars in the process, thanks to a new invention that was funded by the SunShot Initiative’s Incubator program. It’s called the ConnectDER, and in addition to its consumer benefits, it soon might appeal to utilities, too.

The ConnectDER device sits in-between the meter and the meter socket.. Photo credit: Department of Energy

The ConnectDER device sits in-between the meter and the meter socket.. Photo credit: Department of Energy

Typically, after sunlight gathered by solar panels is turned into electricity by an inverter, it must be connected to a home’s electrical service panel. This can be difficult because panels are often located in hard to reach areas of a home, like basements or attics. For those who live in older homes, electrical service panels may not be built to handle the amount of energy being produced by solar panels and upgrading may be expensive.

The ConnectDER device makes it faster and easier to install a solar array by removing the need to upgrade electrical service panels or run wiring through a home’s interior, meaning solar technicians don’t need to enter your home. The ConnectDER is mounted between a home’s electric meter and meter socket, which is located outside. Cables from the inverter are connected directly to the device instead of being routed through a home. The meter can also handle more voltage than an electrical service panel, easily bearing the burden of routing power into the home.

By removing the need to replace the electrical service panel and run wiring through a house, the ConnectDER device saves consumers between $500 and $3,000 in installation costs. It also saves time, shortening what can be a lengthy process.

With a proven beta product under its belt, ConnectDER is now in the process of finalizing an advanced version of its device. The second-generation SMART ConnectDER has the same configuration, mounted between a home’s electric meter and the meter socket, but it allows utilities to monitor how much solar energy is generated at a given location. Having this insight into supply and demand will allow utilities to ensure grid stability, and help reduce the likelihood of power outages.

More Department of Energy Success Stories are posted here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Solar Power World: Brooks Utility Products and ConnectDER to simplify electric metering for solar installations.
“Brooks Utility Products, a supplier of electric metering products for the utility industry for more than 142 years, is providing design and manufacturing expertise to innovative startup ConnectDER, (formerly Infinite Invention).”