Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Oh bugger, they've caught up with me!

I can't remember how much of this I've blogged before, so I apologise if I repeat myself too much.

A year ago we had a grid-connected array of solar panels installed. We were dead lucky, because we fell right in the middle of the gummint's scheme to subsidise such things by almost 50%. They've capped it at some pathetically low figure now, so no-one in his right mind would take them up on it. Anyway, we put 11 panels up and the installer said they would generate roughly 2200 kWh per year. Actually, at 1873, it's been less than his estimate this year, but then we had a lousy summer.

Now concentrate. We buy our electricity from Southern Electric, but the house is located in Eastern Region, and Southern don't have an agreement with Eastern to replace our meter with one which can measure the power I squirt back into the grid as well as what I suck out. In the interim the agreement with Southern was that they'd pay me 5p a kWh for everything I generated, whether I was importing or exporting, compared with the 9.2p they charge me for what I use. I think this is roughly fair. Well, it was explained to me by Natalie, with whom I fell instantly in love the moment she opened her mouth - Edinburgh accent.

In the run-up to the installation, I'd been scanning my old bills and couldn't work out why the first quarter of the year was always twice the size of each of the other quarters, so had eventually started reading the meter every day, to try to work out what was happening. (A. The last quarter reading was always an estimate. As we use more power during the winter, the first quarter, a real reading, then had to catch up, so was much bigger. Still with me?)

One bright spring day I was reading the meter, when I spotted that it was running backwards! Apparently meters come in 2 flavours - newer ones only run forwards, but older ones go both ways. So this meant all the electricity I was generating was reducing the meter reading, and they were paying me for it. Hah! Brillliant! I can cope with that! In fact, instead of a bill at the end of September, I had a letter telling me I'd overpaid by £44. Better and better.

Until yesterday, when I had a phone call from Southern, making an appointment to replace my old meter with an import/export model. Damn!

Still, it does mean I've been paid twice for the 1800 kWh I generated.

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