Genability Switch V4: Accuracy Upgrades

Genability Switch makes it easy to accurately forecast savings and avoided cost, even in markets with increasing regulatory and tariff complexity. With Switch V4, we’ve implemented multiple upgrades to ensure your proposals always reflect accurate solar savings.

Solar Tariff Eligibility

When a post-solar tariff is not specified in Switch, Genability now defaults customers to the most popular tariff eligible for solar customers. If you select a post-solar tariff that the customer is not eligible for, the API response returns a warning. A few utilities now require customers to migrate to certain tariffs once they’ve installed rooftop solar. The first example of such a policy is in Salt River Project, which mandates that residential customers must switch to tariff E-27 after installing solar.

Tracking Closed Tariffs

Genability Switch maintains rate information for all tariffs, including those that are closed and no longer open for new enrollment. With this Switch upgrade, you can quickly sort tariffs by availability to ensure that your sales team only suggests switching to tariffs that are open for new enrollment.

Solar + Energy Efficiency

Many customers bundle energy efficiency upgrades into their solar service offering. Now you can run a Savings Analysis and explicitly pass through load profiles related to energy efficiency products, as well as baseline and solar profiles.  

Support for Complex Minimum Bills

When residential solar systems are sized to offset nearly all of a home’s load, customers are still billed per their tariff’s minimum charge. Recent tariff changes have added complexity to how minimum charges are calculated. For example PG&E recently modified the calculation behind their minimum charge. Switch accurately represents how these minimum charges are calculated to ensure accurate savings for customers with larger systems.

How Do I Leverage These Upgrades in My API Calls?

Some of these upgrades are enabled by minor changes to existing API calls. Contact support@genability.com if you have any questions and we’ll send over implementation details and schedule a demo.

Within the next few weeks we’re dedicating an extensive blog post to upcoming Switch upgrades that greatly enhance support for NEM 2.0, HI, and other tariffs based on bidirectional meters.

Stay tuned for more information on that and other exciting upgrades!

Posted in API, Consumers, Info, News, Partners, Residential, Switch | Leave a comment

Genability Switch V4: Dash, Watch, New APIs and More!

We are proud to announce a series of exciting new upgrades to our flagship product, Switch. Switch is the market leading solution for providing residential solar customers with the most accurate savings forecasts.  

Multiple new features are included in this launch, all aimed at increasing accuracy, productivity, and providing you with visual tools that compliment your solar sales process. Over the next few weeks we’ll be following up with a series of blog posts, instructional videos, and other content to highlight significant features.

Dash: View and Troubleshoot Savings Analyses

Dash: View and Troubleshoot Savings Analyses

Included in this release are:

Dash – a new web-app which allows you to quickly view and troubleshoot savings analyses.  

Watch – real time data quality checks which alert users when key parameters in a savings analysis exceed expected boundaries. Watch alerts are available via API, email, and viewable in Dash.

New APIs – several new APIs that can be integrated directly into quote tools. These APIs include all information available in Watch and Dash along with access to historical saving analyses so that you can review historical proposals and see the details associated with any offer.

Accuracy Upgrades – We’re rounding out Switch v4 with accuracy improvements that facilitate changes in regulatory policy related to tariff eligibility, net metering credits, and minimum bills.  

Stay tuned for more updates about all of the new features in Switch.  In the meantime if you have any questions, please  check out the What’s New page on our website or contact us at support@genability.com.

Posted in API, Developers, Partners, Products, Switch | Leave a comment

It’s the Middle Class Driving Solar Growth

_I1C8028-2_sharpSeven Solar Installations in a Northern California Neighborhood, March 29, 2016. Photo by Charity Vargas

Who’s going solar? A recent study by Kevala Income Distribution of Rooftop Solar covering 2008-2015 points to California’s middle class.  As solar costs have decreased and competitive new financing options have increased, more and more middle class homeowners are adding solar to their roofs. As many as 65% of California’s solar systems were installed in zip codes where the median owner-occupied income is less than $70,000 per year. Discussing the study with Solar Industry, Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association, suggests that “middle-class consumers are seeking to generate their own power as part of a tangible solution to rising electricity costs.”

The Kevala study also found that moderate-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles County (between $40,000– $70,000) have seen “very strong growth” up 30% year over year. And in Fresno, zip codes with homeowner-median-income of $40,000- $55,000 consistently represented half the solar deployment. What is driving this eight year trend?  Savings. The study concluded that  “10-20% savings in their electricity costs is meaningful enough to drive investment in alternative electricity supplies.”
How much can your customers save? With Genability Switch solar companies can calculate and present their customers savings, helping them install solar where it makes sense – increasingly for moderate and middle income homes.

Posted in Residential, Switch | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Genability Closes a $3 Million Investment

Today we are pleased to announce we have closed a $3 million investment from WindSail Capital. WindSail helps companies that advance energy innovation, with a particular focus on energy sustainability (http://www.windsailcapital.com). They provide debt to companies with solid financials and strong revenue growth. They really couldn’t be a better fit and we are very excited to partner with them.

Continue our Independent Growth in Solar

This investment allows us to continue to support the growth of distributed solar. We have doubled our revenue every year (US solar should grow 119% next year according to GTM) and along the way acquired the best in the industry as our customers and partners. We plan to continue this trend through further adoption and utilization of our existing products (like Switch which is integral to 45% of all solar PV proposals in the US) and by bringing innovative enhancements to the market. But just as important, this allows us to stay an independent and trusted source for savings.

Solutions for the Expanding New Energy Economy

We are at a crucial and exciting time for the new energy economy. More pieces are maturing towards mass market, such as behind the meter storage, electric vehicles and connected buildings. We expect these areas to provide additional growth for us over the next three years, and we will be focusing on upgrades to Conduct, our real time product, and our partnerships with emerging leaders.

New Products, New Reach

We also have several new, exciting products in development that expand our customer base. These include some powerful tools to visualize energy costs and savings across markets, utilities, new energy products and more; to intelligently understand trends and unlock opportunities. We will also expand our reach to target new stakeholders, including traditional utilities. We can’t wait to share more about our new products over the summer.

Financial Strength During Choppy Waters

The transition to a new energy economy will not come without its challenges. While growth is high, its path and timing are not as clear as other technology areas. Consumer adoption, regulatory change, and emerging financing alternatives will all require adjustments to business models and priorities. There will be winners and losers as this shakes out. And as many in our industry know, cleantech and energy technology venture capital has been challenging over the last few years. Add to that the recent tightening across the broader VC funding market, and many emerging software companies not yet profitable could find themselves running out of runway. Today, Genability is in a strong financial position to thrive in this climate.

Welcome WindSail

Mike, Ian and the WindSail team join a great team of investors, who have collectively invested over $10.5 million. Genability remains employee focused, with founders and employees owning 77% of Genability. That being said, our existing investors remain an important part of the team, especially EnerNOC, whose CEO, Tim Healy, will continue on the Company’s board of directors. A big thanks to Tim, Micah and the entire EnerNOC team for their decisive help in this transaction and continued support more generally.

Next up? We’re enjoying a glass of champagne here then getting back to work!

Here’s our Press Release:
http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160309006473/en

Posted in Info, News, Partners | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Investigating the Effect of California’s NEM 2.0 on Solar Savings

In January, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved new net metering rules, which define how utility companies bill customers with rooftop solar. Largely hailed as a victory for advocates of the distributed solar industry, the NEM 2.0 policies change how the utilities calculate costs and credits for solar customers.

Through 3,000 simulations, Genability investigated how these new rules will impact solar savings. Note that these simulations are based on the NEM 2.0 versions of the utilities’ residential tariffs as of February 2016; updated analyses will be provided soon based on recent changes to the relevant tariff schedules.

From these simulations, we found that NEM 2.0 can have a relatively small effect on savings on average. And more interestingly, NEM 2.0 may lead to greater savings in certain cases.

NEM 2.0 rules

Once the NEM 1.0 rules expire in 2016 and early 2017, potential solar customers served by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) will have their solar savings impacted in two major ways1,2:

  • All electricity delivered by the utility company is subject to higher charges (“non-bypassable charges”; e.g., nuclear decommissioning charge); these charges cannot be offset by solar energy credits.
  • Customers must switch to a time-of-use (TOU) rate schedule in which the cost of electricity delivered by the utility company varies over the day.

Per the CPUC’s January ruling, both of these factors are resolved hourly, meaning the utility calculates charges from hour-to-hour. Note that SDG&E customers will not need to switch to a TOU rate structure until a later date (several months after the onset of NEM 2.0).

The analysis below focuses on the rules approved in January’s CPUC decision and February tariff schedules. We will publish follow-up analyses as needed with new electricity tariffs including those still requiring approval by the CPUC.

How will NEM 2.0 affect solar savings?

Using Genability’s Savings Analysis product (our Switch API), we ran 3,000 simulations to compare savings for new solar customers under NEM 1.0 and NEM 2.0 rules. These simulations reflect randomly-selected combinations of monthly usage and solar production levels that are typical of cases run through our Switch API. These scenarios generally feature total annual consumption between 9,000 and 17,000 kWh, and solar installations that offset between 60% and 100% of this annual consumption. A more detailed explanation of our simulation procedure is included at the end of this post.

Ultimately, we found that NEM 2.0 has a relatively modest effect compared to NEM 1.0: over all the simulated savings analyses, there was only a 2.8% difference on average in first year solar savings ━ and this was a 2.8% increase in savings.

The chart below breaks down these annual costs by utility. Specifically, it illustrates utility costs for a year without solar, with solar under NEM 1.0 conditions, and with solar under NEM 2.0 conditions. (These values are averages across the simulations by utility.)

Similarly, the bar graph below shows the average amount of savings in utility costs per year thanks to solar (i.e., what you avoided paying the utility).

Both the chart and bar graph highlight the relatively comparable savings seen under each of the NEM conditions. That said, PG&E and SCE customers can actually benefit from the NEM rule changes: nearly 95% of the simulated PG&E customers and more than 95% of the simulated SCE customers saw higher savings under NEM 2.0 versus NEM 1.0. More specifically, annual savings increased by 5.7% ($146.20 in the first year) on average for the PG&E scenarios and 5.3% ($149.80) on average for the SCE scenarios.

SDG&E customer simulations saw lower solar savings under NEM 2.0 versus NEM 1.0. That said, the effect was small ━ only a 2.5% decrease on average ($85.27 in the first year). Even in the most extreme SDG&E case, there was only a 4.0% decrease in savings due to NEM 2.0.

We also assessed the effect of the new rules by examining the rate a customer pays to the utility for power after having gone solar (i.e., yearly amount paid to the utility divided by the total kWh delivered by the utility). The plots below depict the distribution of these post-solar rates:

As expected, the plots indicate that solar customers would pay higher rates to SDG&E under NEM 2.0 versus NEM 1.0 conditions, while the reverse is true for PG&E and SCE.

Altogether, these relative patterns of savings indicate that the positive effect of the TOU switching rule in NEM 2.0 (delayed for SDG&E) outweighs the negative effect of the higher non-bypassable charges.

Integrating NEM 2.0 rates into Savings Analysis calls

Overall, the non-bypassable charges appear to impact solar savings only slightly. In the PG&E and SCE NEM 2.0 scenarios, the switch to a TOU rate generally has a much larger, and often positive, effect on savings3.

As of last week, Genability’s Savings Analysis API can predict savings based on California’s new net metering rules. For more information on how to do this, or for analysis of how your organization’s specific quotes will be affected, email support@genability.com.

Those without a subscription to Genability’s Savings Analysis API can email sales@genability.com to get a demo of our Switch product.

 

How we ran this analysis

We determined 500 usage and production scenarios that are representative of potential rooftop solar customers served by each of the three California IOU utilities.

As a single hypothetical example: we used Genability’s APIs to create an account for a customer, John Smith, at 123 Genability Drive, San Francisco, California, 94114. We then created annual usage and solar profiles and uploaded them to the John Smith account.

For the John Smith scenario, we then ran a Savings Analysis call where the pre- and post-solar tariffs were the same ━ both PG&E’s E-1: Residential rate schedule; in other words, pre_master_tariff_id = post_master_tariff_id = 522 in the API call, where 522 denotes PG&E’s default residential tariff in Genability’s database. The results of this Savings Analysis call represent the NEM 1.0 case.

Next, we ran a nearly identical call, but set the post-solar tariff to the NEM 2.0 version of E-6-TOU: Residential – Time of Use. For this, we also set useIntelligentBaselining = true in the API call, which interpolates hourly usage data from a single monthly kWh reading (as described in a previous blog post). Altogether, this second Savings Analysis call predicts costs and solar savings under California’s new NEM 2.0 rules. We then compared savings under the NEM 1.0 and 2.0 conditions.

 

1 A one-time interconnection fee is also now allowed, but this is not part of the electricity tariff.

2 The invester-owned California utilities (PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E) have recently asked that charges be resolved at a sub-hourly level. The CPUC is expected to respond in the coming months.

3 Particularly for cases where the solar customer’s annual utility charges were above the annual minimums.

 

Read More »

Posted in API, Consumers, Developers, News, Products, Switch | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Charge Up Your Storage Business with Genability

Energy storage is the next frontier in the New Energy Economy, and we’re proud to work with industry leaders such as Tesla, Stem, Advanced Microgrid Systems, and NextEra Energy.   

Partners leverage our products to identify new markets with attractive rate structures, develop site-specific savings forecasts, provide pricing intelligence to battery management systems, and use our savings statements as an independent source of truth for billing and shared savings agreements.

In past years, growth in storage was driven by large utility-scale installations. The rapid increase in distributed energy resources and load management services are paving the way for a new era of distributed energy storage. Behind the meter storage installations are expected to grow by more than 5X between 2015 and 2017 with most of this growth in the commercial/industrial segment.

Source: GTM Research

Commercial energy storage must provide value to developers, financiers and end customers such as hotels, big-box stores, and wineries. Target sites have electricity consumption profiles with high differentials between mean and peak usage, thereby resulting in higher demand charges (see Large Hotel profile below). Demand charges apply costs to peak energy usage over small periods of time. These charges are often very complex and can represent up to 50% of a business’s total electricity bill.  Energy storage helps flatten the load profile by storing electricity when usage is otherwise low, and discharging stored power during high load periods. Other factors such as time of use rates and peak pricing incentives further increase the value of energy storage.

Typical Summer Load Profile – San Jose, CA

Look for more announcements about products, services and additional partnerships from Genability as this exciting market continues to grow. For more information please contact us at sales@genability.com.

Posted in API, Commercial and Industrial, Conduct, Developers, Finance, News, Partners, Products, Switch | Leave a comment

NEM 2.0 in California

The solar industry received great news yesterday when the California Public Utilities Commission approved their proposed decision on NEM 2.0. All major elements of net metering were upheld with no new fixed or demand-based charges. Under NEM 2.0 solar customers will see higher interconnection fees (estimated to be between $75 – $100 per installation) and will be charged non-bypassable rates on all energy received from the utility (roughly 2-3¢/kWh), regardless if that energy is later offset by solar production. All solar customers will also be required to take service under time of use tariffs. Utility companies have 30 days to finalize rate structures under the new rules.  

NEM 2.0 is scheduled to go into effect as soon as the current Net Metering Cap is reached for each of the 3 California investor-owned utilities. San Diego Gas & Electric will be the first utility to enter NEM 2.0 as they are currently at 85% of their limit under NEM 1.0. We expect that NEM 2.0 will go into effect for SDG&E in May 2016. PG&E and SCE won’t reach their NEM 1.0 caps until early 2017. In all cases customers approved under NEM 1.0 will retain their rate structure for 20 years from approval.

We at Genability have been following the CPUC proceeding closely in preparation for supporting NEM 2.0. Future versions of California tariffs correctly model the effect of solar on non-bypassable charges so Switch users can continue to model precise solar savings for their customers. Stay tuned to this space for future updates.

If you have further questions, please email us at support@genability.com.

Posted in API, Commercial and Industrial, Developers, Finance, News, Residential, Switch, Verified By | Tagged | Leave a comment

NREL Validates Genability’s Accuracy

In a recent evaluation by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Genability’s savings calculations matched NREL’s results within 0.5%. NREL evaluated Genability’s tariff calculations against 1,500 California utility bills and performed statistical tests to compare the similarity of the actual utility bills to Genability’s results. The Genability results were nearly identical in mean and variance to actual costs on the 1,500 utility bills with an average difference of 2 cents and a maximum difference of 55 cents. The report is available on NREL’s publication website found here.

Difference Between NREL and Genability Data

Difference Between NREL and Genability Data

The NREL evaluation was performed in preparation for the release of our actual cost savings product, Verify. Verify brings transparency to savings by showing customers how much they would have paid for electricity had they not gone solar, then overlays solar and remaining utility costs to calculate savings. We’ll follow up in the near future with much more information about features and availability of Verify.

Verify Report

Verify, Utility Costs With and Without Solar

Our primary objective is providing customers with the most accurate avoided cost of power and savings information. We invest significantly in making sure our expansive database of residential and commercial electricity rates, tariff calculators, and load simulation models work in concert to produce very reliable savings forecasts. There are quality checks continuously running that ensure accuracy of the 15,000 tariff changes we make every month in over 1000 load serving entities.

We will continue to work with reputable third parties to validate the accuracy of our products. If you have questions about this report or any of our products, please contact us at sales@genability.com.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

When Policy Changes Impact Savings

Net energy metering (NEM) has been a critical driver in the growth of residential solar over the past decade. There is an ongoing debate between utility companies and proponents of solar energy as to whether net metering at retail rates is the appropriate value to place on residential rooftop solar. Per a recent report by N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, net metering is currently under review in 27 states. Utilities have proposed various modifications to retail NEM including the addition of fixed charges, interconnection fees, and consumption based charges. As of Q3 2015, 42 states have proposed or implemented policy changes impacting solar.

 

Figure 1. Recent Action on Net Metering, Rate Design, and Solar Ownership Policies

Figure 1. Recent Action on Net Metering, Rate Design, and Solar Ownership Policies

 

Fixed Charges in APS

As part of Genability’s commitment to provide the most accurate forecasted savings, we make sure to update our technology and data to account for any changes that occur. In 2014, Arizona Public Service (APS) introduced the first solar surcharge for new solar customers, assessing a fixed charge of $0.70 per kW installed every month.  A customer with a new 5 kW(DC) system in APS will pay an additional fixed charge of $3.50 per month after installation.  This decreases the avoided cost of power by 0.5¢/kWh and adds up to over $1000 in additional post-solar costs over 20 years.  

How Do I Include These Charges in a Savings Analysis?

Within Switch this charge is driven by a property on the solar profile, keyed as systemSize, and measured in kW(DC). Genability customers who use our integrated PVWatts API to calculate solar production will automatically have the systemSize populated on their solar profiles and subsequently in their savings calculations.  

For those API customers who pass us either monthly readings or hourly solar production baselines (using the hourly baseline is better and encouraged) for their solar profiles, it is easy to include system size when you add and update your solar profile. Just include the systemSize property:

“properties” : {

  “systemSize” : {

    “keyName” : “systemSize”,

    “dataValue” : “5”

  }

}

By always including systemSize with your solar profiles you ensure that your Switch calculations are precise and you can deliver the savings you promise your customer. We’ll continue to monitor solar policy and make necessary changes to our services so that you always have accurate savings information.

Please contact us at support@genability.com if you have questions.

Posted in API, Consumers, Developers, News, Partners, Products, Residential, Switch | Leave a comment

Smarter Savings Forecasts with Intelligent Baselining

We’ve significantly upgraded the way homeowners’ electricity usage is baselined prior to going solar. Now it’s possible to accurately model savings and avoided cost for all customers including those on time of use tariffs with as few as one utility bill! Part of our recent set of upgrades to Switch, this new feature is called Intelligent Baselining.

What Happens Now?

Without Intelligent Baselining, savings forecasts require an entire year’s worth of bills. Having 12 months of usage captures how a household’s consumption changes across seasons. Knowing this variation is especially important for savings projections since approximately 52% of residential electricity rate plans in the U.S. have seasonally-dependent charges.

Even with a full year’s worth of bills, savings forecasts have largely been limited to non-Time-of-Use (non-TOU) tariffs. A monthly bill provides no meaningful information about electricity usage from one hour to the next, or one day to the next. Since electricity rates vary within a day on TOU tariffs, you cannot accurately predict savings without understanding hourly and daily usage. Ideally, you could base TOU savings projections on customers’ hourly meter data, but this data is not always available and otherwise presents a major bottleneck in the sales process.

Intelligent Baselining for Analyzing TOU

Genability’s tariff database indicates approximately 35% of residential rate structures in the U.S. currently have some rates that vary across days or within a day. In many markets, TOU rate plans are becoming increasingly popular. For example, around 41% of Arizona Public Service customers are on a TOU plan. Residential TOU tariffs are also expected to become more common for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) customers since the California Public Utilities Commission is mandating that a TOU rate structure be the default residential tariff within 5 years. This trend is expected to spread nationally in coming years, particularly as electric vehicles and smart home appliances become more popular.  These products give homeowners more control over when they use electricity and therefore incentivize switching to rate plans where electricity is cheaper at certain times.

If a household’s meter data isn’t available, forecasting savings under TOU plans requires a better understanding of hourly consumption. Enter Intelligent Baselining. Intelligent Baselining interpolates hourly usage from a monthly bill based on how residential customers generally use electricity from one hour to the next, and from one day to the next. More specifically, this interpolation draws from Genability’s models of typical electricity use for every hour in a year. These models are specific to region and building type, and account for the effects of location, weather, and the behavior of different types of homeowners.

The figures below show Intelligent Baselining in action. The first plot shows the interpolated hourly usage over a summer day, for example an APS customer who uses 1,000 kWh of electricity a month.

ib_blog_summer02

Intelligent Baselining accounts for the fact that in summertime Arizona households typically use the most electricity during the afternoon and early evening.  It’s hottest outside at these times and air conditioning is used most heavily. We see that Intelligent Baselining also accounts for the decreasing and lower usage that’s characteristic of homes in the cooler hours (i.e. overnight and early morning).

This following plot (blue) shows interpolated hourly usage for the same Intelligent Baselining customer in Arizona, but for a winter day.

ib_blog_winter02

Here we see that more electricity is used just before work and after work, which makes sense. Comparing the plots of summer vs. winter hourly usage, we see that the same Intelligent Baselining model accounts for intra-day energy variation, but also how that intra-day variation changes across seasons (particularly due to the use of air conditioning in this example).

With the interpolated hourly usage information we can better predict how much customers will be charged under TOU rate schedules. For example, we could more accurately forecast how much the customer in the example plots above will be charged on those two days if they are on the APS ET-1 tariff, where electricity is more expensive from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM than it is overnight (9:00 PM to 9:00 AM).

Ultimately, the Intelligent Baselining feature of Genability’s Savings Analysis API will help you determine when switching to TOU rates is optimal for your solar customers. The following chart shows some examples of where Intelligent Baselining was used to find 7.5% – 11.0% more savings when a solar customer switches to a TOU plan.

ib_blog_switch02

Intelligent Baselining for Extrapolating Usage

Intelligent Baselining also helps streamline the sales process if a potential customer doesn’t have 12 bills on hand. It does this by automatically extrapolating an entire year’s worth of usage from as little as one bill. As with the interpolation capabilities of Intelligent Baselining, the extrapolation function is based on the models of typical yearly energy use specific to region and building type.

Early numbers indicate that on average, Intelligent Baselining can use just one bill to predict annual usage within approximately 15% of actual annual usage on average. Much more detail on the accuracy of this extrapolation is available to customers upon request and will be touched upon in a later blog post.

How Can I Use Intelligent Baselining?

If you want to use Intelligent Baselining to significantly simplify the sales process and improve savings predictions, it can be turned on and off in calls to the Savings Analysis API. More information for current customers on how to do this is found on our developer documentation site. For others who are as excited about Intelligent Baselining as we are, we’re happy to give you a tour of Genability’s suite of products, including a Switch demo. Contact sales@genability.com to set up a demo today!

Posted in News | Leave a comment