Javier Romero
Director General
Eco Housing

Challenge Matches Reward in Distributed Generation

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 13:17

The Energy Reform has sparked a boom in the distributedgeneration sector. But CFE’s industrial OM and HM tariffs continue to hinder net metering in the medium-voltage power sector. Solar power’s benefits remain overlooked by the industrial sector as PV systems’ ROI periods for highconsumption domestic tariff users are shorter than those for the industrial segment, halting the progress of distributed generation for that particular electricity-consumption segment. 

“The reform has underpinned the distributed generation sector,” says Javier Romero, Director General of Eco Housing, the residential-focused division of distributed generation systems supplier and installer Eco Value. “Despite the fact that the new regulation includes net metering, net billing and energy trading schemes, we are still focusing on basic net metering contracts.” While the previous net metering scheme was still in place, a portion of the private sector was hastily installing distributedgeneration systems and drafting contracts, he says. The company projects that the most adequate scheme for OM and HM tariffs will be net billing.

Romero says that verification units are another important factor as they are in place only for medium voltage and have limited availability. “Extending these units to low-voltage installations would be extremely beneficial because it would ensure residential-level PV-powered installations are done correctly and reflect well on the industry.” He underlines that CFE’s effort to replace old electricity meters for low voltage systems with top-tier smart meters to facilitate a mainstream net metering practice has worked to Eco Housing’s benefit. 

The company’s parent, Eco Value, is focused on the industrial and commercial markets. It oversees high volume waterheating systems and has alliances with companies that specialize in water treatment, recycling and green terraces. “Our expertise, at the end of the day, is in PV solar-power systems and the residential market,” he says. “We created the Eco Housing brand to focus solely on this segment.” Eco Housing is Eco Value’s most commercial brand.

The steady growth in the residential segment is reflected in Eco Housing’s performance. It completed five installations per month in 2017 compared with just 12 in its first year of operations. “We started five years ago and business has doubled on a yearly basis,” says Romero. “Thanks to our work in residential PV systems, we have been able to pierce the commercial and industrial sectors.” He underlines that the regulators' new rules, including CELs and trading energy with CFE, have played a key role in that process.

While Eco Housing does not provide leasing services to clients, the company knows that it makes more sense for customers to make direct purchases because of shorter payback periods. “Leasing in distributed generation is attractive for customers because it requires zero investment in PV equipment,” says Romero. “But we have realized that potential clients prefer to directly purchase solar equipment and have a four-year ROI than signing a 15-year leasing contract without final ownership of the equipment.”
Eco Housing offers four guarantees in the residential distributed generation market. First, if the company does not deliver on the stipulated date, it covers the electricity costs for the time it took the company to deliver. Second, Eco Housing offers a yearly PV productioncycle guarantee. If the solar modules fail to produce the guaranteed amount of electricity, Eco Housing covers the difference plus an additional 10 percent. Third, Eco Housing’s installations are guaranteed for three years. And fourth, the company guarantees its clients representation before CFE when needed. 

According to Romero, Eco Housing’s business line integrates three solar meter models: Solmetric, Solar Pathfinder and Helioscope. “These hardware and software solutions provide us a clear picture of the solar map of any particular location,” he says. “We can merge factors that could impact PV electricity generation over the course of a year, including obstructions, shadows, temperature variations, module orientation and inclination.” This enables the company to accurately calculate and estimate energy production