Author Topic: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000  (Read 18862 times)

FIREandMONEY

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My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« on: September 18, 2015, 12:22:59 PM »
I have been lucky enough to not pay an electric bill since February.  My electric company has one of the "referral programs" where if you get people to sign up for a new account using your code, you both get some money off your next bill.  Usually between $25-$75. 

Well, at the first of the year I started leaving reviews for the electric company on a few review websites and it has really been paying off lately.  This is the number of referrals I've been getting:

Feb: 2
Mar: 2
Apr: 4
May: 9
Jun: 19
Jul: 28
Aug: 12

That's a lot of referrals and all it took was literally 15 minutes of work by leaving reviews for the company at places like Better Business Bureau, yelp, Google Reviews, etc.  I've had hundred of dollars worth of electricity paid for since February and I have over $3k in bill credit just sitting there.  I won't have to pay for electricity for years and the best part is more referrals are still coming in.

I know not everybody can do this and it is dependent on where you live and if you can choose your electric provider.  Might be worth it for some people to look into it though.  Just google "electricity referral program" + your state.

Good luck!

JPinDC

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2015, 01:09:18 PM »
That's brilliant. My electric is included in rent, but I wonder what other companies I use have referral programs... Thanks for the tip!

FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2015, 08:04:34 AM »
That's brilliant. My electric is included in rent, but I wonder what other companies I use have referral programs... Thanks for the tip!

Good point!  I forgot to mention that!

I was telling one of my coworkers about my electric bill luck, and she said her apartments we're running a similar deal. 1 free months's rent if you can refer a friend, so she said she was going to try that.  Keep your eyes open and who knows what other referral things there can be.  Credit cards are the obvious one, but I'm sure there are many more.

Kimchi Bleu

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2015, 10:13:29 AM »
Wow, that is amazing.  Thanks for the tip!

g-money

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2015, 10:26:22 AM »
Not in California.


sol

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2015, 10:35:48 AM »
My electricity bill for the past 12 months totaled negative $14,983, but I had to spend $32,400 on solar panels to make that happen, so I think your way is cheaper.

Of course, I get the smugness bonus from being carbon neutral so that has to count for something, right?

grantmeaname

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2015, 02:03:20 PM »
Aren't referral clicks made out of anticarbon? How else could the utility pay you for them?

FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2015, 03:38:46 PM »
My electricity bill for the past 12 months totaled negative $14,983, but I had to spend $32,400 on solar panels to make that happen, so I think your way is cheaper.

Of course, I get the smugness bonus from being carbon neutral so that has to count for something, right?

How's your negative bill/bill credits work?

I asked my electricity company if I could take my bill credits in the form of a lump sum check.  I knew it would be futile, but I just HAD to ask because, you just never know. 

Can you get cash for yours or is it just free electricity?

sol

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2015, 04:01:22 PM »
How's your negative bill/bill credits work?

We received about $9700 in federal tax rebate (reduced tax bill, so less money leaving my account but none coming in), about $5000 in production incentives (sent as a check which I recently deposited, part of Washington state incentive program), then on our bimonthly bill any net surplus is credited to our account and applied against our water bill (averages about $50/bill credit on top of free power).  We haven't yet had an actual zero dollar combined bill after fees and water use; our smallest was $2.25 ($94 for water, -$92 in power credit) for April/May because after that we started watering more.

The Money Monk

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2015, 06:02:32 PM »
Incredible man, nice work!

FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2015, 12:29:28 PM »
Electric bill just came in today.  Got another 20 referrals for an even $1000.  I wonder how long this will last...

nawhite

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2015, 09:26:10 AM »
Sounds like you need to start smelting aluminum or charging your neighbors to charge their electric cars.

realityinabox

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2015, 09:51:20 AM »
I don't get how this could be a thing.  Isn't electrical service typically a localized monopoly?  Why would they need referrals if everyone in their designated area has to use them? 

NathanP

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2015, 09:59:13 AM »
I don't get how this could be a thing.  Isn't electrical service typically a localized monopoly?  Why would they need referrals if everyone in their designated area has to use them?

+1

Why would a monopoly need to spend any money on marketing? If I were a shareholder I would not be happy.

Bob W

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2015, 10:11:31 AM »
One assumes that in some places there is a choice of providers.   

Dollar Slice

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2015, 11:28:51 AM »
One assumes that in some places there is a choice of providers.
Yes, kind of. There is one underlying utility company that owns the infrastructure (the monopoly) but you can sign up for an ESCo who will resell you electricity or gas over that infrastructure. You still pay the utility for the delivery (AFAIK) but the actual usage goes through the ESCo.

Sort of like how at one point there might have been 10 different companies offering DSL service over the copper line to your house that was owned and maintained by the local phone company (which was a monopoly).

kudy

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2015, 12:27:50 PM »
Sounds like you need to start smelting aluminum or charging your neighbors to charge their electric cars.

or set up some bitcoin mining machines... or grow weed?

FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #17 on: October 13, 2015, 01:27:36 PM »
I don't get how this could be a thing.  Isn't electrical service typically a localized monopoly?  Why would they need referrals if everyone in their designated area has to use them?

+1

Why would a monopoly need to spend any money on marketing? If I were a shareholder I would not be happy.


In Texas, we have deregulated electricity...you can read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deregulation_of_the_Texas_electricity_market

Basically, when you're in Texas, you go to the site: http://www.powertochoose.org/ and select whichever company you want, based on cost, customer service, etc.  There's around 200 companies last I checked. 

maco

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #18 on: October 13, 2015, 06:05:48 PM »
I don't get how this could be a thing.  Isn't electrical service typically a localized monopoly?  Why would they need referrals if everyone in their designated area has to use them?
Last I checked, electricity was deregulated in 23 states if I'm remembering right.

My electric company has a $50 bonus for both the referrer and the friend. This covers IL, MD, PA, DE, NJ, and NY, and it's all solar & wind https://ethicalelectric.com/referral/by/maco

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2015, 09:41:37 AM »
My electricity bill for the past 12 months totaled negative $14,983, but I had to spend $32,400 on solar panels to make that happen, so I think your way is cheaper.

Of course, I get the smugness bonus from being carbon neutral so that has to count for something, right?

Where were your panels produced?  If they came from China, roughly a quarter of their lifetime output is embodied in the panels, which are generally made with coal electricity.

sol

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2015, 08:20:14 PM »
My electricity bill for the past 12 months totaled negative $14,983, but I had to spend $32,400 on solar panels to make that happen, so I think your way is cheaper.

Of course, I get the smugness bonus from being carbon neutral so that has to count for something, right?

Where were your panels produced?  If they came from China, roughly a quarter of their lifetime output is embodied in the panels, which are generally made with coal electricity.

In order to get the maximum state incentive payment, I had to buy my panels and inverters from local Washington State companies. Washington is about 70% hydropowered.

Details of my installation, including the hardware specs, are in this thread:  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/solar-panel-installation/
« Last Edit: October 14, 2015, 08:21:52 PM by sol »

patrickza

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2015, 02:54:32 AM »
Wow that's quite a lifehack, well done!

FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2015, 10:12:03 AM »
I hope other people did this when they saw my original post.  Cutting out a utility bill that a lot of people consider to be a fixed cost can really add up.

The strategy still seems to be working for me, but it has slowed down considerably.  I am curious if it is because Winter is not a common time to move/sign up for new electricity.  I will continue to track this, I wonder if I see a rise in Spring/Summer.

Referral count:

Feb: 2
Mar: 2
Apr: 4
May: 9
Jun: 19
Jul: 28
Aug: 12
September: 20
October: 2
November: 4

FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2016, 07:42:00 AM »
December: 4 referrals.

Same as last month.  Enough to pay my bill and still have some leftover to go into my bank of bill credits.  Account balance is now -$4200. 


ender

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2016, 08:52:57 AM »
That's awesome!

FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2016, 08:58:08 PM »
Well, 4 referrals again this month!  It was a cold month so the heating bill was high and I didn't get to bank too much. 


« Last Edit: March 09, 2018, 11:55:12 AM by FIREandMONEY »

FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2016, 12:04:22 PM »
Well, got 6 this month for $300.

I am hoping to see this as the rising limb of my bell curve.  We will have to wait for summer.

FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #27 on: December 16, 2016, 12:57:55 PM »
Well, not really much of a bell curve for 2016, at least not as big of a one as I was hoping this year.  For the last 12 months, I've been averaging just over 3 referrals a month.     For about the past 6 months, this has basically allowed my credit balance to maintain around $4700.  Unfortunately, I am noticing a downward trend in my referrals over the last 6 months.  I actually had a month with NO referrals.  That's my first zero month in a long time.

Honestly, I haven't been as aggressive the last few months in trying to get my referral code out there.  Probably spent 5 minutes a month over the last 6 months.  Took way more time to make this plot than to trying to actually get the referrals.  :-D  Guess with such a large balance I am just getting lazy. 


stashyMel

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #28 on: December 17, 2016, 06:24:33 PM »
So how much is enough? Are you trying to accumulate enough to cover your FIRE period? I'm just curious. I see this as a great novelty and obvious money save but should you stop cultivating the rebate and let it spend itself. Eventually, the power company could be onto you and put a limit on the amount that can be accumulated.

JAYSLOL

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #29 on: December 17, 2016, 08:48:53 PM »
Well, not really much of a bell curve for 2016, at least not as big of a one as I was hoping this year.  For the last 12 months, I've been averaging just over 3 referrals a month.     For about the past 6 months, this has basically allowed my credit balance to maintain around $4700.  Unfortunately, I am noticing a downward trend in my referrals over the last 6 months.  I actually had a month with NO referrals.  That's my first zero month in a long time.

Honestly, I haven't been as aggressive the last few months in trying to get my referral code out there.  Probably spent 5 minutes a month over the last 6 months.  Took way more time to make this plot than to trying to actually get the referrals.  :-D  Guess with such a large balance I am just getting lazy. 



Thats pretty badass though.  You could start an electric car charging business (or grow-op, lol) and really go after those referrals.

driventohelp

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #30 on: December 17, 2016, 11:29:46 PM »
I have been lucky enough to not pay an electric bill since February.  My electric company has one of the "referral programs" where if you get people to sign up for a new account using your code, you both get some money off your next bill.  Usually between $25-$75. 

Well, at the first of the year I started leaving reviews for the electric company on a few review websites and it has really been paying off lately.  This is the number of referrals I've been getting:

Feb: 2
Mar: 2
Apr: 4
May: 9
Jun: 19
Jul: 28
Aug: 12

That's a lot of referrals and all it took was literally 15 minutes of work by leaving reviews for the company at places like Better Business Bureau, yelp, Google Reviews, etc.  I've had hundred of dollars worth of electricity paid for since February and I have over $3k in bill credit just sitting there.  I won't have to pay for electricity for years and the best part is more referrals are still coming in.

I know not everybody can do this and it is dependent on where you live and if you can choose your electric provider.  Might be worth it for some people to look into it though.  Just google "electricity referral program" + your state.

Good luck!
Sweetness !

FrugalKube

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #31 on: December 18, 2016, 11:40:56 PM »
I don't get how this could be a thing.  Isn't electrical service typically a localized monopoly?  Why would they need referrals if everyone in their designated area has to use them?

+1

Why would a monopoly need to spend any money on marketing? If I were a shareholder I would not be happy.


In Texas, we have deregulated electricity...you can read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deregulation_of_the_Texas_electricity_market

Basically, when you're in Texas, you go to the site: http://www.powertochoose.org/ and select whichever company you want, based on cost, customer service, etc.  There's around 200 companies last I checked.

Wish we had something like this in Wa State...only good thing about leaving in the Eastern side of the state is the cheap hydro power

arebelspy

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #32 on: December 19, 2016, 12:32:17 AM »
This is pretty neat. Thanks for sharing, and following up with the data!
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FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #33 on: December 19, 2016, 02:20:40 PM »
So how much is enough? Are you trying to accumulate enough to cover your FIRE period? I'm just curious. I see this as a great novelty and obvious money save but should you stop cultivating the rebate and let it spend itself. Eventually, the power company could be onto you and put a limit on the amount that can be accumulated.

Ya know I've never even thought about how much is enough.  I guess I'd like to see if I can get it up about $30K.  Then I would have enough for probably two decades worth of power.  Who knows what the future will really be like 20 years from now anyway.

As to the power company catching on, there is nothing to worry about.  I have spoke to them many times.  They love that I them refer them a lot of customers.  Paying out $50 to me for each new customer that they sign into a 12-36 month contract is a great deal for them.  They love it and encourage me to refer more.  They make their money in the long run. 

arebelspy

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #34 on: December 20, 2016, 05:57:36 PM »
Plus it's a credit, not cash... They know you have to "spend" it back with them.

(Don't forget inflation in calculating how long the surplus may last. I'd look into historical energy prices in your area, as well as the type of energy and shifts for the future, if you're building that into FIRE plans.)
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eeho

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #35 on: December 21, 2016, 04:52:58 PM »
This is awesomely badass, nice work FIREandMONEY!

FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #36 on: March 09, 2018, 12:06:18 PM »
Well, I last updated this in December of 2016 and at that point had gotten $7,025 in referral credit.

In the 14 months since then, I received another 18 referrals worth $900.  With probably about 5 minutes of work in that 14 months, just checking to make sure my referral posts were still active. 

I'm currently at $7,925 in overall credit earned and an active balance of about -$5400 on my account.

This was just something I luckily backed into, but it's turned out to really be a frugal goldmine and help lower my monthly expenses.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2018, 12:35:29 PM by FIREandMONEY »

bassguitar115

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #37 on: August 24, 2018, 01:35:46 PM »
I'm looking into this now. Any additional tips for getting started? I'm also in Texas.

I'm a red panda

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #38 on: August 24, 2018, 02:43:52 PM »
This is amazing.  Way to go.

We don't have provider choice here, so a no go for us.

Are the credits for your house or you as a person, or you as a person in that house? If you move to you lose all this? Does the next person get it? Or could you take it with you elsewhere?  Guess since it is minimal energy it doesn't matter, but wow.

Do you just leave your referall code in all your reviews?  I'd love to let my sister-in-law in on this! They us some random electric company in Texas, so I wonder if she has a referall program.

rivendale

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #39 on: August 31, 2018, 03:07:25 PM »
Wow, this is awesome. Too bad there's nothing like this here in CA. I'm stuck with the evil empire, SoCal Edison.

Roots&Wings

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #40 on: September 07, 2018, 07:50:39 AM »
That's a lot of referrals and all it took was literally 15 minutes of work by leaving reviews for the company at places like Better Business Bureau, yelp, Google Reviews, etc. 

Those sites allowed you to leave referral links? Or is there another way that the referral gets tied back to you?

Candace

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #41 on: September 07, 2018, 08:01:49 AM »
Once in a while there is something completely new-to-me on this site. That's part of why I keep reading. Thanks FireAndMoney!

We live in monopoly-land here in Virginia, but it's excellent to learn about what's possible elsewhere.

FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #42 on: November 06, 2018, 12:31:15 PM »
Well, I last updated this in December of 2016 and at that point had gotten $7,025 in referral credit.

In the 14 months since then, I received another 18 referrals worth $900.  With probably about 5 minutes of work in that 14 months, just checking to make sure my referral posts were still active. 

I'm currently at $7,925 in overall credit earned and an active balance of about -$5400 on my account.

This was just something I luckily backed into, but it's turned out to really be a frugal goldmine and help lower my monthly expenses.

As of November 2018, I have now earned an even $8,500 in referrals.

If I have one complaint, it is is that I let my wife in on this knowledge.  She just gave birth (to twins!) a few months ago, so during her whole pregnancy, she required the home to be at a perfect temperature.  I am talking only 71-73 degrees was acceptable!  70 was freezing and 74 was too hot!  I gave in because of the desire to make my pregnant wife happy and the large negative balance made it awfully hard for me to argue back.  So, our balance has been seriously depleted throughout the hot Texas Summer!  I believe I am at roughly at a balance of ONLY negative $4100, as the referrals have also slowed to a crawl.  Mustachian problems I guess.


Do you just leave your referall code in all your reviews?  I'd love to let my sister-in-law in on this! They us some random electric company in Texas, so I wonder if she has a referall program.

Yes, basically that's all I did.  I went back once every 6 months and tried to some upkeep to the reviews to try to make sure my reviews were at the top of the page.  Various sites have different way to do this.


Those sites allowed you to leave referral links? Or is there another way that the referral gets tied back to you?

I'd be lying if I said that one or two sites didn't delete my review/referral, and tell me not to do it.  I would then promptly repost the referral/review and wait for my hand to be slapped again. 




FIREandMONEY

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #43 on: November 06, 2018, 12:38:53 PM »

Are the credits for your house or you as a person, or you as a person in that house? If you move to you lose all this? Does the next person get it? Or could you take it with you elsewhere?  Guess since it is minimal energy it doesn't matter, but wow.


The credits are linked to my personal account with the company.  I have moved twice and the credits move with me. 

Roots&Wings

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #44 on: November 07, 2018, 06:13:31 AM »
Awesome update, and congrats on the twins! You're well prepared for the increased energy costs :)

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #45 on: November 11, 2018, 06:38:03 PM »
I'm jealous.  Not only do I not have a choice of electrical suppliers, they don't buy electricity back from solar panels and charge a fee (per kw per month I think) for using solar panels.

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Re: My Electricity bill is Negative $3000
« Reply #46 on: November 11, 2018, 08:13:01 PM »
I'm jealous.  Not only do I not have a choice of electrical suppliers, they don't buy electricity back from solar panels and charge a fee (per kw per month I think) for using solar panels.

It's reasonable to charge you something for your use of the grid as your ideal, seasonal (or longer) term battery of perfect behavior.

"I give you a kWh when I find convenient, you give me a kWh when I find convenient, all for free" isn't exactly the sort of thing that keeps power grids functioning long term.  Net metering is a damned amazing deal for homeowners.  If you find a couple bucks a month inconvenient, you can drop quite a few grand on battery banks, and live within your few-day energy budget... you'll probably appreciate the power grid a lot more after doing that for a year or two in most areas.