Re: Dear Cohousing Community
From: Bonnie Fergusson (
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2021 11:57:42 -0800 (PST)
We went with Solar to cover the Common House usage, financed byan outside 
vender who could use the tax break that was available then.  We’ve had ongoing 
problems with this guy who technically owns our system.  Now 16 years into the 
20 year contract our inverter is broken and he ihas not fixed it since June, 
which will cost us a lot in utility bills.  Be careful who you choose to work 
with.   Bonnie FergussonSwans Market CohousingOakland, CA

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On Friday, January 8, 2021, 11:21 AM, Dick Margulis <dick [at]> 

On 1/8/2021 1:57 PM, Jim Bronson wrote:
> 1) Do we have an electric meter on each of our 28 units, or an electric
> meter only on each of our seven buildings, or have only one electric meter
> for the community and parcel out charges based on square footage of
> individual units through the HOA?

Your electric utility and your state public utilities commission will 
have the final say in that. You can explore options, but pay close 
attention to the monthly service charges that apply to different size 

> 2) Do we have solar.with battery backup, for a start, on the Community
> House (possibly using financing where a third party pays for the
> installation and is compensated over time through selling power to us and
> the grid)?

The economics of this varies from state to state. In Oregon, this may 
work out. In Connecticut it turned out to be infeasible. We went down 
the path of designing a microgrid solution for the community (one giant 
meter, connected solar collectors, central storage battery, car 
chargers). The Connecticut Green Bank was on board with enthusiastic 
support. They brought in a specialist engineering firm to analyze the 
project, and the conclusion the engineers came to was that a thirty-home 
community could not possibly consume or produce enough power (under our 
restrictive state regulations) to ever justify the cost of the storage 

We ended up having to have individual meters on each home, individual 
solar systems purchased or leased by homeowners, and optional 
whole-house batteries (such as Tesla sells). We were advised to live in 
the homes for a year and monitor power usage before installing solar 
systems/batteries, in order to properly size the systems. In 
Connecticut, any power sold back to the grid above the amount used by 
the home would be reimbursed at wholesale prices, which would not be 
enough to pay for the extra solar panels. Again, this may be entirely 
different in Oregon. I'm just telling you what we learned here.

Dick Margulis
Rocky Corner
Bethany CT

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