Will the electric company buy electricity from a personal generator?

I know in some cases Electric companies will buy energy from someone who's solar panel's/wind turbines are overproducing. I think the system's have to be properly grid tied, i.e. either installed by or inspected by someone from the power company. I know that they don't pay much, but if you had a diesel generator running on waste vegetable oil.....like if you made an arrangement with a restaurant to pick up their waste oil for them, it would be nice to be able to do so on a regular basis instead of going to them every so often saying "Hey, I ran out of oil, I need some more." I guess I'm specifically asking about AEP. (American Electric Power) I live in Findlay, Ohio. I was on their website but couldn't find the answer to this question. Thanks!

5 Answers

  • 6 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    There is no better source for your question than someone who works for the company, AEP, but in general what you are referring to is called "net metering."

    Net Metering is often seen by those people who have solar panels with a grid connection. During the day the utility will pay those people the full daytime rate for their power. A solar installation also is not something that is easily discontinued at will and so represents a reasonably reliable source of power. This presents an advantage for the utility because is allows them to avoid a very high peak day time rate spot price for the same power on the open markets. At night the owner of the solar panel will purchase electricity from the utility. You will pay or receive the "net" difference.

    Net metering usually involves some equipment change. A meter that can go forward and backward is typical. Another device that is often installed is some protection for utility workers. If there is no power on the utility system a transfer switch will prevent power supplied locally from creating a hazard to utility workers.

    The owner of an electric car may also have "time of use metering." This allows for a cheaper rate when the power is purchased during night-time off peak periods. This is again an advantage to the utility company as their generating capacity must usually match the high peak daytime loads and this leaves a substantial amount of generating capacity that is unused at night.

    Unlike the solar scenario, your generator or a wind turbine can produce power at all times and may be turned off at will. This is not nearly so advantageous to the utility provider and you could find that the provisions are not as generous.

    In addition, the average cost of utility generated power in Ohio is now about 12 cents per kWh. http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_g... I once did an analysis of the cost of generating power using a modest sized generator. and commercially available diesel fuel. The diesel generator using commercial fuel cost about 75 cents per kWh plus the cost of the generator.

    Even if you gather the waste fuel at no cost unlike solar panels your time will be required to provide the generator with fuel. You will have to transport the fuel and this likely will involve some fuel cost for a vehicle. You may be making bio-diesel at some additional cost or using WVO with some additional cost to maintenance of the generator. Both the vehicle you use and the generator you use will be producing probably more pollution than a generating station and may require some permits and this also will be different than using solar panels. Finally, also unlike solar panels which are essentially solid state devices your generator will require lubrication changes and parts will break down.

    Your idea is interesting but you may discover that the economics are not sufficiently rewarding. Best of luck to you.

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    Hi. I don't know if the power company will buy the electricity from you, but it's worth a call to them to see how you can leverage this ability. I think you're right, though. I think that you have to be able to put that power into the grid, meaning that you have to have the power company come out and approve the set up and then put a meter on your line so that they can measure the amount of power you are generating.

    I believe that you can easily set up some agreements with local restaurants to get their used fry oils and such. You might need to purchase some specialized equipment in order to recpature the oil and bring it back home, but I think that this will be the easy part.

    Good luck!

  • Eric P
    Lv 6
    6 years ago

    Yes, you can sell energy to the grid but it's often not cost-effective. You have to look at your equipment and operation cost, as well as the cost per kWh that your utility pays. Also, WVO is not as easy or free to come by as it used to be, as demand is now much higher. Restaurants usually don't give away their waste oil for free any more, as fuel companies now pay restaurants to pick up their used cooking oil.

    You can buy grid-tie inverters that plug into the wall outlet for reasonably small amounts of generation (about 1500 watts or less). For larger amounts of generation, you'll want a professionally-installed inverter and meter.

    The cost of electricity is so inexpensive per kWh that even if you did manage to source free WVO, the income from selling the electricity likely wouldn't even cover your costs to set up and maintain the generation equipment. Your system would also likely produce more emissions per kWh than the utility generation stations. You may have to deal with legislation for the emissions and/or noise, depending on how populated your area is.

  • 6 years ago

    You can buy a wind turbine on grid system , one part for using yourself , one part you can sell electricity to the electricity company . You don't need to pay the electric charge also you can earn money . WInd turbine can work all day 24 hours if have good wind speed . So that is a good choice .


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  • 6 years ago

    I manage social media for AEP.

    You can find more information about installing generating equipment and connecting to AEP Ohio's distribution system here: http://bit.ly/1dqZvGl

    You also may want to check out our guide for systems that generate less than 50kW: http://bit.ly/1eXLHpR

    If you have more questions, contact our Distributed Generation Coodinator at dgcoordinatopr [at] aep dot com.

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