ConnectDER’s Impact on Florida Solar
Over the years, solar has become more affordable, making residential solar an option for more homeowners. However, some permitting processes have stood in the way of streamlining solar and reducing costs. While Solar ABCs came up with an expedited permitting system that allows smaller systems to forego unnecessary delays, it didn’t address the net metering process and installation. Simplifying the net metering installation is something that ConnectDER hopes to tackle.
What is a ConnectDER Meter Collar?
ConnectDER helps utilities simplify the net metering process by expanding access to distributed energy resources (DER) through ConnectDER products. These products make the installation and switch to net metering simpler, which decreases the associated costs.
ConnectDER has four different products to choose from. These products include the Simple ConnectDER, Smart ConnectDER, ConnectDER Bridge and ConnectDER Cloud.
The Simple ConnectDER is a meter collar installed between the standard split-phase residential electric meter and the meter socket. Because this collar doesn’t involve any rewiring, it reduces the interconnection process to less than ten minutes.
The Smart ConnectDER is an advanced meter collar. This collar has onboard metering, allowing it to work with the utility’s preexisting communication infrastructure. With this product, utilities can easily track alternative tariff models and enhance grid management.
The ConnectDER Bridge is used with the Smart ConnectDER to enable utilities to connect to PV inverters. This tool triples utility DER hosting capacity without the need for feeder or substation upgrades.
With the ConnectDER Cloud, utilities can collect meter collar data from the Smart ConnectDER and the ConnectDER Bridge. It can create simple data bridges between various DER types and networked applications, such as REC tracking databases.
The Difference Between ConnectDER and a Smart Meter
Excepting the Simple ConnectDER, ConnectDER products are smart grid technology. Unlike smart meters, ConnectDER products don’t replace your meter. Instead, they attach to the pre-existing analog meter, reducing upgrade costs.
It’s also important to note that, unlike traditional smart meters, ConnectDER products are specifically for net metering. They make transitioning to residential solar and other renewable generation methods easier to implement.
ConnectDER in Florida
As of January 12, 2022, ConnectDER partnered with the City of Tallahassee, Florida. Tallahassee agreed to offer Simple ConnectDER on new residential solar installations. This agreement means that instead of installing new net meters on homes with residential solar, the city’s utility would add the Simple ConnectDER Collar to the pre-existing analog meter. The collar changes the analog meter so the homeowner can do a two-way electricity exchange without needing a different meter. As of January 2022, the City of Tallahassee Utilities hasn’t mentioned ConnectDER on its website. However, this utility doesn’t charge customers to install a new net meter. So, the money-saving advantages of this technology will most likely only benefit the utility.
What ConnectDER Means For Floridians
While this technology currently only applies to Floridians in Tallahassee, successful implementation and decreased utility costs could mean this technology spreads across the state. If other Florida utilities decide to use the Smart ConnectDER and any additional upgrades, it could increase the state’s current electricity infrastructure’s capacity for residential solar interconnection. In short, while Florida still has a long way to go before everyone will have a meter collar, it might become commonplace in the future. Only time will tell if Tallahassee’s test run proves beneficial.