Clean Power Makes Sense for Mobil Home Communities

Posted on Posted in Master Metered Residential

Mobil home parks are generally ignored by energy consultants and utilities.  Yet there are clear opportunities to reduce utility bills and provide energy security to park residents.  Sometimes the simplest path to energy security and profit is to make your own power!

Background

Many mobile home parks are master-metered for electricity.  Bills are calculated on a residential tariff, which steps up electric costs during the month based on usage.  Park ownership gets one bill for all the residents, which is calculated on the combined tiers of all the homes. The park then bills the residents for their individual usage.  Common areas, like the community clubhouse and park lighting, are included in the master meter bill from the utility and are effectively billed at the highest monthly rate. Here is a graph from the Southern California Edison website.

SCE Residential Tiers
SCE graph showing Price Tier Progression during a billing month. Rates can go as high as $.30 per kWh.

Clean Energy Option

Although not widely promoted by the utilities, a mobile home park is allowed to generate their own electricity.  A clean energy project can make electricity at a lower cost, resulting in savings from common area consumption and income to the park.

Many parks have been approached by solar energy companies.  Solar is heavily subsidized by rate payers, the costs have declined, and the utilities are required to fast track installations.  Although a solar project could be a good option, most parks don’t have the space.  If you have the roof or parking space, solar should be considered.

Clean Energy Solar Carport
Carport in Australia. One option for photo-voltaic solar panels where roof and ground space are constrained.

Easy and No Cost

Sometimes the easiest project is a power generator located near the master meter.  Parks with 500 sites or more can consider a clean energy fuel cell.  Parks with approximately 200 sites or more per meter can benefit from a clean energy turbine.  A system like this takes up very little room, can be made very quiet, runs on natural gas and is so clean that no air permit is required.  Installation is much easier than solar, maintenance is limited, and the life span of the project is 20 years.

Projects have around a 5 year payback, but can also be installed with no cost to the park under special programs like PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy), resulting in immediate cash-flow for 20 years.

Safety, Security and Profit

Onsite power generators, like the clean turbines above, can provide emergency power during extended power outages.  This means that key facilities, like the community center, can provide air conditioning and light for residents.  This could be a life saver for senior residents during hot summer days.  Unlike solar, power would be available around the clock.

In fact, installing a system will actually take some of the load off the local utility distribution grid, reducing the likelihood of an outage.

On the profit side, reducing the master meter utility bill means significant savings on common area power and income from resident billing.  The park must bill residents at the same rates as the utility, even if the clean energy project has reduced costs.  The difference goes to the parks bottom-line.  In addition, the heat generated by the clean energy turbine can often be used to heat the pool, further reducing costs and allowing the pool to be open all year round – a real plus for residents.

Summary

US&R has been working with mobile home and manufactured home communities in Southern and Northern California to evaluate clean energy installations. We’ve found many situations where a project makes great economic sense and greatly increases resident satisfaction.  We will do a feasibility analysis, including a review of your master meter bills, at no cost.  If a project makes sense, we will install, arrange financing, apply for rebates and tax credits, provide maintenance and get your system on-line as soon as possible with minimal disruption.  Contact us today to get started.  Simply let us know you would like a feasibility analysis and we will do the rest.

 

 

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