Notes for Meeting on 13th September, 2018

The complexities, uncertainties and compromises that we face make it difficult to chart a clear path forward.  I have tried to address our challenges under three headings: operating policies that we need to clarify, decisions that we will have to make, and actions that we need to pursue over the coming three months or so.  The boundaries between these challenges are not clear because of overlaps but I hope this way of tackling the challenges helps.  The order in which they are listed below is not necessarily the best way to tackle them so please re-arrange as you see the best logic.  And, of course, add what you see I have missed.

Operating Policies

  • How will the network and system be owned?  By the owners as a collective or as a Strata Corporation?  Pro’s and cons of each?
  • Will charging be on the basis of individual usage or averaging?  How will we handle the disadvantage of this to ‘night time’ users?  How will we demonstrate before and after benefits?
  • How will billing, defaults, tenants’ access be handled?  How will Embedded Network costs be paid?

Decisions Required

  • What network size should we start with – 18Kw, <30Kw, 35Kw, 35Kw + Battery?
  • What switchboard size should we start with – current board, new 100 amp or 200 amp?
  • How do we finance establishment costs – levy on owners, out of capital fund, energy performance agreement, or energy lease, other?
  • What is a reasonable/feasible payback period to offer?
  • Whether to appoint an Embedded Network Manager or include in Strata Manager’s role?
  • Which contractor do we prefer, can we choose now and begin collaboration on preparing owners?

Things to be done

  • What are our goals/principles for the project now? Will we recommend a ‘stages’ approach?
  • How do we go about collecting current usage date that will enable subsequent analysis of before and after electricity costs?
  • How do we assess best form of financing?  Do we ask Bo from Unit 7 to join us?
  • How do we proceed vis a vis the Strata Executive on the Switchboard upgrade?
  • How do we scrutinise the two short-listed bids, make a choice, and identify aspects of potential negotiation for better prices?
  • When and how do we begin a process of engaging and educating our fellow owners?
  • Do we need to work toward a presentable Business Case?
  • Do we need to seek legal advice?  On what?
  • What do we want follow up with Wattblock?

Notes from the above meeting

Questions for follow up meeting with Wattblock

  1. Why was there such a big gap between the Feasibility Study costs and those from the Tender Responses?
  2. Why can’t we get the wholesale supply tariff figure?
  3. What is the Feed-in Tariff figure now and what is it likely to be in the future, particularly is it likely to go back up?
  4. Why don’t we have a financial analysis of various models – 18Kw and 35Kw?
  5. Is it feasible to establish a Network with a Gate meter to the grid + Smart meters for each unit with them simply continuing their separate supplier contracts?
  6. What is the maximum size of Kw installation that will ensure we are less than 30 for the purpose of out Grid connection.
  7. Are we sure about the extent of shading on Block A during winter?  Peter Steen has been monitoring it and reckons it is more extensive than allowed for in the Feasibility Study.

Other

  1. Need to explore with our regular electrical contractor (Mick) the possibility of connecting the Blocks – A>B>D, A>C with units then connected by cable between them to enable Solar behind the meter(?).
  2. We agreed that the network ownership should be by the Owners Corporation and the per KwH rate should be blended.
  3. If we have an ENM the Owners Corporation pays the grid supplier for gross usage and then bills each owner on the basis of their separate usage.
  4. To deal with tenancies, we will need a By-law which ensures that connection to our network is offered as part of the tenancy agreement and our rate must be better than the best market rate available. In the event of tenancy changes, the ENM would be informed thereby activating contact with the Letting Agent to ensure new tenant is informed they will be connected to our network unless they choose to opt out.
  5. In determining the Solar Panel installation size need to ensure that the maximum size after system inefficiency is <30Kw.
  6. We will recommend to the Owners Corporation (at the AGM?) that the current Main Switchboard be replaced with a 100 amp Board as part of our normal capital outlays.  We will eventually need to adopt a By-law that regulates the individual unit EV charging to 15 amps (should explore the possibility of an automated queueing system for charging from our network).
  7. With regards to financing of the Network our preference is the bulk, if not all, of the financing to come from the OC Capital fund, possibly augmented by an annual modest levy spread over, say, 5 years. We recognise that it is essential for us to show that the payback time will be less than 10 years as the realistic maximum acceptable time horizon. In order to limit the financial impact on owners we need to stage the introduction starting with New S/B + smart meters to establish the Network.  Once paid for then install Solar Panels, once paid for then install Battery.
  8. We agreed that it would be very helpful if we could persuade Bo, the owner of Unit 7, to join our team to provide the financial expertise we need if we are to create a viable offer for our fellow owners – Neil to ask him.

Next meeting

Tuesday 9th October from 2 pm.