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All About PHILL

jim314jim314 Posts: 491
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Comments

  • Before you buy a CIVIC GX contact the Southern California Gas Company for approval to install the PHILL unit. It took three weeks for the Gas Company to approve my request. The selling dealer may not know about this requirement.
  • I have been waiting for 8 weeks for the So. Cal. gas company to sign off for my PHILL install.
    I still don't have it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks So. Cal. Gas!
    I can't wait to hear from the people who buy a new 2005 honda GX get the PHILL from Honda then have to wait two months for the So. Cal. Gas Company to pull their head out of their butt.
  • I have one of the first Phill units that were installed in Southern Ca. Originally I was planning a dual meter and that would have required having the gas company involved. When I told them that I changed my mind and I wasn't going to get the second meter, they said that no approval from them was required. Just a permit from my local building department. I wonder what you are running into. (Things may have changed.)
  • I live in Arizona and I don't know if that makes a difference or not. I do have two meters thru Southwest Gas. I actually get charged two different rates. The rate for the 'CNG Fuel' as they call it is about 40% less than the 'Home Fuel' as they call it. So using the one to get started may be good to start to use the Phill, but you may want to check if it would be cheaper to have the second installed eventially.
  • This is really interesting how things change. So. Cal. gas company now has to sign off on your Phill installation. I finally got my approval 8 weeks to the day after sending it in. Today So. Cal. gas is sending their own tech over to see that the supply line installed for Phill holds 15 lbs of pressure. With the gas company signing off on everything the installer comes back and attaches PHILL to the gas meter. So. Cal. Gas doesn't want it's customers to install separate gas meters. I heard from the Calif NGV Coalition (cngvc.org) that So. Cal. gas had just submitted to the Calif PUC, a flat rate for all natural gas usage for Phill owners. I was told that the flat rate for PHILL owners should be very attractive especially with Natural gas rates on the rise this winter.
  • rstrst Posts: 73
    the only requirement that I am aware of is a form that you MUST sign requesting the gas company to "evaluate the gas quality at any proposed refueling location to ensure compliance with state regulations" They are saying it is a "quality test" not an inspection, but is mandatory or NO service.
  • I received authorization from Southern California Gas Company last week after waiting 21 days. It is my understanding that the only other inspection will be done by Los Angeles Dept. of Building and Safety.

    I purchased the GX with the PHILL unit. The SCAQMD pays $2,000.00 and Honda pay $1,500.00. FuelMaker would not ship the unit until I provided documentation from the Gas Company. Thus I do not have the unit yet and I purchased the car on October 3, 2005!

    This simply appears to be new to all of the parties involved and causes some confusion.
  • About a week after providing documentation to FuelMaker about the gas quality at my home, Phill arrived. The installation in my case required a lot of work and expense. Cutting concrete, trench for wiring 18 inches deep, steel pipe 12 inches deep and a new subpanel. All anchored in a concrete footing.

    The unit works great without any problems!

    I pay $1.44 for each gge (Los Angeles) and adding the power Phill uses I will be paying about $1.60/gge.
  • londnrlondnr Posts: 55
    Am I right in thinking that the Gas company gives you a different (lower) rate because you are now using it as NGV fuel? Or have I misunderstood?

    How much did the install cost and do you have the phone number of the installer? Maybe I can get a quote before I commit.

    Fuelmaker gave me a rough estimate of about $150 for the install, something I have a little trouble believing.

    Thanks in advance.
  • rstrst Posts: 73
    I think they meant $1500.00. I had two bids. One was $1,500 and the other was $1,100 including city permit fees. They were apples to apples. I have my own crews so I ran a 3/4" gas line and had a dedicated electrical connection provided. So, for $1,100.00 they ordered the device, brought it to my house, uncrated (unboxed), hung the machine on the wall, connected the gas line, and plugged it in. It took two or three hours. They had come out on a prior trip for the estimate. You can find a list of installers on the Fuelmaker website, hopefully one in your area.
  • rstrst Posts: 73
    londnr

    Drain Work was the installer 1-800-657-5634. They are located at 1042 S. La Cienega, Los Angeles 90035.

    A post was made a while back that the PUC (?) was considering a flat rate for home fueling so the gas co would not have to install second meters, or some other reason. Does anybody know where this stands?

    I believe you drive a Crown Vic. The Phill refuels at less than .5 gal per hour. The life of the machine, I believe, is 4,000hrs. Just something to consider.

    I was just saying it in a nice way, but you are so right...we are just being hosed by the gas co (Sempra).
  • londnrlondnr Posts: 55
    RST

    Thanks for the info, I will do all of my homework before I act.

    I was aware of the limited lifespan on Phill, I understand that the procedure is to return the unit to Fuelmaker and they send out a new/refurbished one in its place - I wonder what this "hidden" cost is?

    I wonder if Fuelmaker is candid about the longevity with the purchasers of Phill?

    Based on a 4,000 hour lifespan, using Phill 8 hours a night would mean replacement/overhaul every 16 months or so - the more considerations the more complicated the math gets. Even at $1.45 vs. $2.15 per gge is it cheaper with Phill? Or are you just getting the convenience of home re fueling? Cost of unit, cost of installation, cost of electricity, cost of maintenance (plus shipping to and from Canada), cost of gas - the more factors the less likely it is that Phill will save money. That is a real shame.

    I was also aware of the .5 per hour fill ratio, but because my car is idle for about 10 - 12 hours I figured it might still be viable. Even with my range (about 250 - 300 miles) I still need to gas up frequently due to the high mileage that I drive, yesterday I gassed up in Long Beach twice. I was hoping that Phill would cut down on the days when I need to refuel twice.

    If you check out the gas company's website there is a section called "advice letters" or something along those lines. If you check out that portion of the site you will find (among everything else) letters to the PUC on all of the issues that concern us as CNG users. You will also find the "infamous" letter requesting permission to bend the drivers of CNG vehicles over and charge them a comparable rate to gasoline.

    Thank you very much for all of the advice and suggestions relating to Phill. I will have to seriously consider my options - although the thought of home re fueling is very attractive :)
  • rstrst Posts: 73
    londnr

    I figured you would check things out pretty carefully. I never expected to save a bundle, but I wanted an alternate source of transportation for the office. I am really happy with the car, the home fueling is wonderful, not paying for parking in my area is great, and solo in the car pool lanes is just icing on the cake. Getting up in the morning with a full tank is the greatest.

    I was not aware of the return policy of the Phill unit. I hope that is correct. I thought I'd be purchasing another one at the end of the life cycle. That dramatically reduces the amount of my overall gas cost projections. I'm not depending on it though, as I have not received the promised rebate of $2,000.00 yet.

    Thanks for the tip. I'll check the gas co web site.
  • rstrst Posts: 73
    londnr

    I checked the web site and beginning Feb. 2006, if approved, they proposed to sell gas at 15.315 (typo??) per therm for home refuelers with a $10.00 per month additional charge. Also, we will have to pay about $36.00 per year in road taxes. This has been submitted for approval. It is a long "advise" letter and I just read the overview. I need to read it completely.
  • londnrlondnr Posts: 55
    RST,

    I am flying blind with my response; so don't take everything as gospel...

    However, it seems as if you have just discovered the mother lode. The advice letter you are referring to is No. 3554 dated November 29, 2005, so it’s brand new – I wasn’t aware of it when I posted last. If my reading is correct (and I only scanned it briefly), the proposal is that CNG users have the option of receiving natural gas at a flat rate.

    I just checked my gas bill; I am currently paying a baseline of $0.16438 per therm. So if your (my) reading is correct, the gas co. is going to reduce the per therm charge to $0.15315. I am rusty on my math, and I don't remember when/where I acquired this fact, but I think that 1.25 therms is equal to one gge. Of course if I look at last winter's gas bill I paid $0.88 over 52 therms and $1.06 over 97 therms (equivalent to $1.10 and $1.32 per gge respectively) – but under a flat rate plan at 16 cents per therm one gas gallon equivalent would cost $0.21 – can that be right????? I am confident that if I have miscalculated someone will correct me – I would just like all of this to be right, but it seems just too good to be true.

    Further reading of the advice letter shows that to receive the G-NGV rate would require installation of a second gas meter at the customer’s expense. I wonder how much that would be? Even with this expense, it seems that home refueling would be very attractive.

    As for the $10 per month surcharge – again if all of my other numbers are right, so what.

    The $36 annual use fuel tax is payable to the Board of Equalization. I have been paying this for the last five (or so years). In theory it should have saved me money. Prices at the pump include a 7.5-cent per gge use fuel tax, by paying the BOE I have in theory been entitled to recover all of those 7.5-cent payments. The BOE has been slack about paying my refund so to date it hasn’t worked out for me. But, as I have said, if the numbers are right, I do not begrudge paying the annual $36.

    I would love to think that my calculations are correct, but I can’t get away from the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true…

    I did speak with someone at the gas co., they couldn’t give me an interpretation of the proposed rate in the advice letter, but they did agree that it seemed as if it would be a flat rate. Only time will tell.

    With regard to my understanding on the Phill exchange/maintenance please double check me as quite a bit of my information is based on conversations with people over the last few years – I have been tracking Phill since they announced it way back in 2002, at that time it was going to cost under $1,000 to the consumer and as you know the price is currently $3,500, so a lot of things have changed.

    You said that you still haven’t received your $2,000 rebate from SCAQMD – when I spoke with AJ from Fuelmaker he told me that the rebate was being applied at the purchase end and there was no need to hound the SCAQMD for the money. Perhaps you could try talking to them?

    When I bought my Crown Vic it qualified as “new” because it had less that 1,000 miles on it. I received a $3,000 rebate (now sadly no longer available), I did have to wait but it was good when it arrived. Price new for my Crown Vic $34,000, price used with 777 miles $18,000 less rebate of $3,000 total cost $15,000 – those days are gone now, Honda is the only maker of new CNG cars and the fund for rebates is exhausted.

    Thanks again for all the advice and suggestions.
  • Sorry folks, the free lunch has NOT arrived via the gas co.
    :(

    The current residential rate of 113.164 cents per therm is made up of 27.117 cents "transmission charge" (expences and profit) and 86.117 cents "procurement charge" (what the gas co. actually pays for the gas).
    You also pay 16 cents per day per meter customer charge ($ 4.80 ) mo.

    Advise letter 3554 is asking the puc to reduce the "transmission charge" to 15.315 cents /therm for residential service with cng fueling , a reduction of approx. 12 cents per therm. the "procurement charge IS STILL ADDED to the transmission charge.
    and a customer charge of $10 mo. per meter is added.

    At current rates this would only save 15 cents per gge.

    On another note, Has anyone got some type of warranty from fuelmaker as to the stated life of 4000hours (2000 gge), rather than just 12 mo., and how much is an overhaul of a phill unit. ?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

    John.
  • rstrst Posts: 73
    londnr,

    ugh....no free lunch. well, at least we both agreed it was too good to be true. i'm glad i didn't buy this thing to save money. lol no rebate yet, questionable tranny, gas prices that went from $1.49 to $2.51 over night at sempra, getting the finger in the car pool lane.....i think the "man" knew i was going alternate energy.

    by the way.....i converted a fiat to electric car in the 80's. i'd do it again, but i don't want the cost of electricity to double overnight and cause a panic on the west coast. i seem to have that power you know. lol

    rst
  • londnrlondnr Posts: 55
    Well of course there's no such thing as a free lunch!! Especially not from the Gas Co.

    I am sad that my "utopian math" didn't work out - in conceding this sorry state of affairs, I did only scan the advice letter and posted my (flawed) math based on that brief reading.

    It is no surprise that the "flat rate" only refers to the transmission charge. I am glad that someone took the time to sit down and properly read the advice letter - I wouldn't have acted until I understood it properly, but thanks to the efforts of others, I don't need to.

    You would think that during my conversation with the Gas Company NGV rep. that it would have been mentioned that the reduction was to the cost of transmission only.

    It seems that the old adage is indeed true. If it sounds too good to be true...

    When I mentioned my "concern" about current prices I was told that there was "good news" - the price of CNG at the pump had come down, when questioned further the Gas Co understanding of "good news" and "price reduction" failed to match my own. I've not used a Gas Co station recently but I understand the price was reduced by 23 cents per gge - any feedback?

    It looks as if we are stuck with high price CNG, I was told that the "compression charge" which had originally been approx. 35 cents per gge is now in the 70 cents per gge range. So when I put 10 gge in my car I am paying $7.00 in compression charges :mad:

    All in all, I like my NGV, I like the free metered parking, the HOV lane and the 91 toll road access; I am happy that I am doing my bit for the environment, but... I don't like being at the mercy of the Gas Co and ENRG. We don't have the same ability to refuel as our gasoline powered counterparts, and our choice of vendors is limited. As bad as the oil companies are I don't recall such a drastic increase in the price of a gallon or gasoline - from $1.50 to $2.50 almost overnight.

    Thanks for all of the corrections/stats on prices, gge, etc. At least I know I won't be misinformed if I seek advice here first.

    On another note has anyone tried the British made equivalent of Phill? I don't know what the price is, still trying to find that out, but I had heard it was 40% of the price of Phill. I wonder if the rebates would apply to it as well? And there is no need to pay through the nose for an authorized Phill installer.
  • rstrst Posts: 73
    londnr,

    Have you called a Fuelmaker dealer about a fmq 2-36? I think they are about $7,500.00. 1.3gge per hour and a 4,000hr life before that mandatory overhaul. I don't know if the gas co would allow it at home though. As I mentioned to you, I would consider it for my office. I guess that would be 5,200 gge over its life as opposed to 1,800 for the Phill. Just another thing to mull over. good luck!!!
  • Just FYI, I believe that the FMQ 2-36 is OUTDOOR only as opposed to the Phill that is inside.
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