Resident Sells Unused Electricity Back To Aps

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Payson resident Thomas Loeffler sells electricity to APS instead of paying for it.

So, how does one sell electricity to a company that produces it?

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One of two meters, photo above left, are used by APS to determine how much electricity Loeffler produces. If he produces more than he uses, APS pays him the difference.

The answer is actually quite simple, and just about anyone can do it.

If a person has a solar, wind or other alternative power system to serve their own energy needs and produces more energy than they use, they can sell their unused electricity to the power company.

It's possible to create your own electricity, and make money on the unused portion.

The average price APS pays for electricity is about 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Loeffler did just that when he built a 6,000 square foot house, which is considered a green living residence.

Loeffler's house is designed and engineered so that the majority of his electricity needs for hot water, heating and cooling, is accomplished by eco-friendly systems.

He uses things like photovoltaic cells or solar panels, for his electric power and geothermal technology for heating and cooling.

Loeffler has solar cells on the roof of his house to collect free power from the sun.

In the utility room of his new home, he has two electrical meters for APS that keep track of exactly how much energy he uses and how much he collects.

Each month, APS comes to the house and reads the meters.

If he has produced more electricity than he has used, he gets a rebate from APS. He has just started using his system and does not know how much his rebates will be, if any.

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His 6,000 square-foot house was designed to be green.

Loeffler said winter months typically will cause him to use more than he produces, but he expects to make up for it during the rest of the year when the sun is out more.

"Most of our customers on the rebate program don't generally create more power than they use, but even so, the average homeowner could see significantly lower bills using solar energy," Susan Lipe, customer service representative with APS said.

With Arizona having an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, solar power can be used almost daily.

She said people with solar power typically generate about four-to-five kilowatt-hours of electricity daily, but use more.

"We also have a one-time, up-front rebate for people who are installing a new photovoltaic system in their home," she said.

APS will pay a homeowner $3 per kilowatt-hour for a newly installed photovoltaic system.

The average cost of a solar energy system is about $9,000 to $10,000.

Loeffler said he paid about $36,000 to install a 4,500-watt solar power system, but he got back $18,000 because the rebate at the time was $4 per watt, which has now been changed to $3.

The total out-of-pocket cost of his solar system was about $18,000.

Homeowners

Loeffler home was designed from the ground up during the planning and architectural phases to be a green house.

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Workers prepare to sink geothermal tubing 200 feet into the ground to tap into the earth's energy for heating and cooling.

He said existing residences could be retrofitted to be green homes as well.

Retrofitting a home is more costly than to build one originally designed as a green residence, but in the long run, it's well worth it, he said.

Loeffler said a person could likely pay back the cost of retrofitting a home within seven to eight years.

Loeffler said one of the benefits to the environment is that greenhouse gases are not pumped into the atmosphere as a result of using fossil fuels to make electricity.

He has a panel on his system that gives an exact reading of the greenhouse gases he has kept out of the atmosphere since he built the home.

Loeffler was not content to just add solar power to his home, he went a step further.

When he was building his home on Rim Ranch Point, he decided to look into a geothermal system.

A geothermal system draws warmth from the earth to partially heat water before it goes into a hot water tank.

His system of tubes extends 200 feet below the surface, where water is heated to 55 degrees from the ambient temperature of the earth itself.

The water is then further heated to about 100 degrees in a heat pump, before it goes to the water tank and is heated to its final household temperature.

Loeffler also had energy-efficient windows and doors put in his house when it was built.

Energy efficient windows are double- or triple-paned, and in some cases, the gaps between the panes are filled with an inert gas to minimize heat getting through, as in single-pane windows.

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Solar panels providing Thomas Loeffler with electricity help reduce his utility bills, and if he produces more than he uses, he could get a rebate from APS.

He had his interior and exterior walls lined with plastic sheeting as vapor barriers to keep moisture from getting in, and had insulation blown into all the gaps of the walls.

He had insulation put under his floors, as well.

As a finishing touch, Loeffler used fiber-cement siding on the house, instead of conventional wood.

Composed of cement, sand, and cellulose fiber, fiber-cement siding is autoclaved, which means it is cured with pressurized steam, to increase its strength and dimensional stability.

"Manufacturers emphasize that fiber-cement siding is appropriate for hot and humid climates because it is resistant to rot, fungus, and termite infestation. They also state that it has excellent weathering characteristics, strength, and impact resistance," www.toolbase.org said.

APS also offers other rebate programs as incentives for people to either build or retrofit their homes with energy saving systems.

For more information on APS rebate programs, visit their Web site at, www.APS.com.

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