If you’re thinking,
Should I buy solar?
Call your electric co-op first!
Should I buy solar?
Only you can make that decision, but our focus is to ensure you have all the information and data to make the best choice for yourself. Try taking these steps before making your decision.
- Contact your electric cooperative or other electric provider
- Consider energy efficiency projects or green energy credits first
- Use the calculator on this site to see estimated payback based on your energy usage
Get your estimated solar system payback using your co-op’s information.
Solar calculations from National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PVWatts Calculator
Taking energy efficiency steps can immediately lower your bill and lower cost of potential solar install.
Other Renewable Options
Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP)
GSHPs use thermal energy from the ground to efficiently heat and cool your home. Geothermal pays for itself in just five to seven years with up to 70% savings annually on heating and cooling costs. And all geothermal installations receive a 30% energy tax credit through 2032. For more GSHP info visit www.geothermalforall.com and look at the side-by-side comparison to solar below.
Green Energy Credits Program
Did you know that most of the Missouri Electric Cooperatives have a program where you can pay a slightly higher rate to ensure you get all the electricity needed to power your home from renewable energy sources? This is an affordable way to invest in renewables. Contact your local co-op for more information today.
Several electric co-ops have the option for members to take part in their community solar program. You can buy panels or lease the energy they produce to expand your renewable portfolio. Contact your local electric cooperative for additional information.
Home Energy Audit
The best renewable energy is energy you don’t use. Contact your local electric cooperative about a home energy audit and/or ask them ways to reduce your energy consumption. This is the fastest way to save money on your energy bill.
Contact your cooperative for more information about solar power generation and assistance in making decisions about whether solar is a good option for you.
HOW IS ELECTRICITY GENERATED FROM THE SUN?
Solar energy systems work when sunlight hits a solar photovoltaic module (solar panel or PV panel) and causes an electric current to flow. The current produced from the PV panels is controlled and regulated by an inverter, which converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) needed for use by household appliances. The electrical panel is where the power gets distributed throughout your house; any excess electricity may be sent from the panel back to your cooperative’s power grid.
HOW DO I KNOW IF A SOLAR PV SYSTEM WILL WORK ON MY HOUSE?
To begin, you can look at factors such as which direction your home faces, the condition of your roof, and obstructions such as trees and other buildings that may block the sun during the peak generation period of 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Your cooperative representative, working with your solar contractor, can provide a more detailed analysis on what to expect.
HOW DO I GET STARTED WITH SOLAR?
- Before choosing a solar system be sure that your home is as energy efficient as possible; you may want to get a home energy audit from your cooperative to help determine which improvements will be most beneficial. Investing in energy efficiency provides a faster return on your investment or may eliminate the need for installing solar. By improving your home’s energy efficiency first, you will reduce your overall energy use and may reduce the size of a PV system.
- Make sure your roof is in tip-top shape. If yours is older, you may need to repair or replace it before installing solar. It will need to last as long as the panels or you will add removal and reinstallation to the cost of a new roof. Or if you choose to put your solar system on the ground (which is the most efficient installation method) be sure the area around it is clear and shadow/shade free.
- Research solar and solar contractors thoroughly before investing in a system; get at least three quotes before choosing one. Be sure to work closely with your cooperative for advice and assistance on interconnecting with the grid. We can provide information and energy use history that can help you to size your system and evaluate savings. Our staff has experience working with other member-owners and solar contractors.
HOW MUCH ELECTRICITY CAN I GENERATE?
That depends on several factors:
- The size of your system. Determine how much electricity you want to produce; then size your system accordingly. Note that you can start out small and add on. A system that will generate 100% of your energy needs is expensive, so most systems are sized to generate only a portion of your home’s needs.
- Your site. If you have a shade-free area from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., you’ll be able to collect more sun and produce more energy than if your site is shaded.
- Your region. The sunnier the days in your area, the more electricity you’ll be able to generate. For example, systems in the southwest produce more electricity per year than in the northeast. To help answer this question in more detail, your cooperative and your installer can provide details specific to your location.
HOW LONG IS THE PAYBACK PERIOD ON A SOLAR PV SYSTEM?
The payback period can range from 10 years to more than 20 years, depending on the system cost, available rebates and incentives, and the amount of electricity the system produces versus what you use at your home. Check with your cooperative for more information on net-metering policies and use the calculator on this website to get an accurate estimate of your payback.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH A SOLAR PV SYSTEM ON CLOUDY DAYS?
Your system will not collect sunlight at night and on cloudy days. That means, you will draw electricity from your cooperative during these times, and because your home is still connected to the cooperative’s electric grid, you’ll be able to receive reliable power. If you PV system produces excess energy on sunny days, you can be compensated based on the cooperative’s net metering guidelines.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH A SOLAR PV SYSTEM DURING POWER OUTAGES?
Most grid-connected PV systems shut down to prevent back- feeding electricity into de-energized power lines that may have fallen or that line crew members may be working on. It’s important to have this shut-down feature to prevent injuries—and even death— to those working on the line.
WILL MY COOPERATIVE BUY ANY EXCESS ENERGY I PRODUCE WITH A SOLAR PV SYSTEM?
Grid connected PV systems are connected to the cooperative’s power lines. That means electricity can flow both ways (to your home from your cooperative, and from your PV system back to the electrical grid). On sunny days at times when your energy use is lower, your system may produce excess energy that can flow back to the grid and may be purchased by your cooperative. Many cooperatives purchase energy generated by a PV system above what the homeowner uses. Check with your cooperative to get specific details for your area, including requirements for interconnection, safety, metering, and applicable rates.
HOW MUCH DOES A SOLAR PV SYSTEM COST?
The price of PV components varies depending on the size of the system (generating capacity), type and quality of the components purchased, and complexity of the system selected. The good news for consumers is the cost of PV has decreased over the past 20 years.
Installation costs depend on the size and complexity of the system, but also on the home layout and construction. For example, a simple, south-facing roof allows for an easier install than a roof with hips and valleys. In addition, some homes require structural or wiring upgrades. An average 4 kW system may cost between $10,000 and $20,000, before credits and incentives. This is based on a typical installed cost of $3 to $5 per Watt of distributed generation capacity. To determine your cost, get multiple bids from reputable installers.
ARE THERE INCENTIVES AND TAX CREDITS FOR INSTALLING SOLAR PV SYSTEMS?
For 2022 and 2023, the tax credit is 30% of the cost of a new residential system. Be sure to consult with your financial and tax advisor to see if these incentives apply to you.
HOW LONG DO SOLAR PV SYSTEMS LAST?
Certified PV products and systems generally have a life expectancy of between 20 to 30 years. PV panels may outlast the roof they are attached to. Make sure your roof is in good shape or budget for replacement during the life of the system.
Manufacturers test PV panels for hail impact, high wind, and freeze-thaw cycles to represent real-life situations. Most manufacturers offer 20- to 25-year warranties for panels; extended warranties may be available at an extra cost. Little maintenance is required; occasionally it may be necessary to rinse modules off with water to remove dust and grime. Other components like inverters may have a shorter life. You should be aware that from the day they are installed, solar panels become less efficient. On average the output of a solar system decreases by 0.5% annually. In time they will stop producing power and will have to be replaced.
IF MY HOUSE IS NOT SUITABLE FOR A SOLAR SYSTEM, ARE THERE OTHER SOLAR OPTIONS?
If your house is not ideal for solar, you rent your home, or you just aren’t ready to make a big investment, there are other options. Talk to your cooperative about community solar or green power program options.
MYTH: Electric cooperatives do not support home solar power installations and distributed energy generation.
False. Electric cooperatives have supported member-owned solar installations for many years. Just fill out the interconnection agreement with your local cooperative to start the process. Your cooperative will help ensure your solar array is safe and you are fairly compensated for your generating a portion of the electricity you generate. Most of all, your electric co-op wants to make sure you are getting all the facts before you invest in solar.
MYTH: Your electric bill will be reduced to zero or near zero as a result of your solar panels.
False. Electric cooperatives have been tracking member-owned generation along with cooperative-owned community solar panel production for more than 15 years. These records show a typical home installation will send about 60% of its generated power back to the grid over the course of a year. In any year, there will be days when the sky is cloudy. Your panels may also be covered by snow or ice, limiting generation. The power your system generates will help offset the energy charge on your electric bill. It will not cover other fees, such as the service availability or grid fee which pays to maintain a reliable electric grid for all.
MYTH: You don’t need to contact your electric cooperative until you’re ready to interconnect your solar system.
False. Electric cooperatives will always support what is in the best interest of members. Involving the cooperative early in the process will ensure the best possible outcome for you. Your cooperative partner can:
- explain the interconnection process
- assist with the application
- discuss net metering payment terms
- provide accurate data on how much electricity you use
- ensure your system is safe
- coordinate required interconnection work needed from the cooperative.
We can also review the power purchase agreement terms if the system is being financed.
MYTH: Solar panels are good options for members on low income or who struggle to pay their electric bills.
False. Zero money down solar system installation offers may seem enticing for those who currently have difficulty paying their bill. However, we urge extra caution when considering this kind of contract. Be wary of something that sounds too good to be true. These offers sometimes come with inflated costs, high-interest rates and extended payment terms and all too often the promise of lower to even no electric bill. Remember: even if you lower your electric bill, you are adding a payment, with interest, for the solar array. By the time you pay off the solar panels, they likely will need to be replaced. Your electric cooperative has been your trusted energy advisor for more than 80 years and we would be glad to assist you in this process.
MYTH: Solar contractors/salesmen are your best source of information for distributed generation, including solar power.
Perhaps. No one knows solar installations better than the contractor. Likewise, no one knows electricity better than your electric cooperative energy advisor. If you’re considering solar for your home, the best solution is to contact your local co-op first to establish a contractor-homeowner-cooperative partnership early in the process so there are no surprises.
11 Questions for Your Solar Contractor
How long do I have to cancel the installation of a solar system?
Will a solar project save more energy and money than insulation and air sealing?
Experts agree that insulation and air sealing are almost always the most eﬀective means of reducing your energy use and saving money on your electric bill. It is best to ﬁrst reduce your energy needs before considering going solar.
How much energy does my home use each year?
At least one year of energy use history should be reviewed if available. Your electric co-op is your best source for this information.
How much energy will the solar project produce each year?
Your contractor should be able to calculate this number easily. Your co-op can also help conﬁrm the estimate. The best bang for your buck typically occurs when the solar will produce 60-80% of your home’s annual energy needs.
How much will the solar project cost me?
Ask your contractor for an up-front cost, even if it will be ﬁnanced. Compare the total cost per the size of system being installed (measured in kW-DC). As of 2020, residential solar systems should average about $3.00 per kW-DC.
Do I pay up front, or over time?
Be very certain of your contractor’s payment terms, as these can vary widely.
How much money will I save on my electric bill?
Your contractor should be able to produce a good estimate of your bill savings if they understand how your bill works. You can use this website to compare your contractor’s estimated payback period versus the estimate you get here using your actual use data.
Have you asked my co-op to review your estimate of my electric bill savings?
You or your contractor should always ask your co-op to review an estimate of bill savings. Mistakes are common and it is much better to ﬁnd them before the system is built rather than after.
What is the name and contact info for the co-op employee who can verify that your savings estimate is reasonable?
Plan to spend at least a few minutes talking to your co-op directly. This is the best way to ensure that your expectations are reasonable and that there won’t be any surprises.
How long will it last? And what happens if the solar project needs repairs? Who pays for that?
A solar project is expected to last a long time, but it will lose its efficiency over time. Ask how long it can be expected to provide power. Also consider repairs. Who fixes the system in one year? In ten years? In twenty?
How do I track the performance of the solar system to make sure that it is working properly?
A solar project has no moving parts, and it can be hard to tell if something is broken. Ask your contractor how to monitor the system so you know it is running well.
It is best to have a representative of your electric co-op look at these questions as well.
9 Questions When Selecting Your Solar Contractor
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CONTRACTOR’S/COMPANY’S BACKGROUND
Ask these questions to be sure the contractor knows the business thoroughly and has satisfied other customers. Also, be sure to request copies of insurance documents, certifications and licenses, so you know that the contractor and installers have gone through required training. Ask for a list customer references and reach to get their feedback and view their system. You should query local Better Business Bureaus and the Missouri Attorney General’s office and check online rating services for comments about the contractor and the equipment you plan to purchase.
- How long have you been in business?
- Are you licensed to do business in Missouri?
- How many PV systems have you installed? Can you provide a list of consumer references in my area? Can I talk with former customers and also see successful installations?
- Who will do the installation at my site? Are they employees or subcontractors? If you involve subcontractors, do they work with other companies, too? Have these subs worked on many of your installations?
- What training have you and your installers had, and what, if any, certifications do you and your installers hold? Do you have an installer with a Master Electrician license, and is there an installer on your team licensed to install solar?
- Does your company carry these types of insurance: general liability for at least $1 million, professional liability, workers compensation, other types?
- Have you ever been involved in a legal dispute involving a solar installation?
- What is your opinion on home energy audit and energy efficiency improvements?
- Do you plan to work with my electric co-op to ensure the installation is properly done and safe?
Items to Think About if Considering Solar
Is it too Good to be True?
Many solar companies are advertising zero money down or no additional costs to entice people into purchasing solar panels for their homes. These types of offers may be true, but it is extremely important to ask the necessary questions to understand the full costs of a potential solar system. It may be a great deal but having all the facts, including the full costs from design to install, is the only way to know.
More than likely, your homeowner’s insurance premium will go up as you add solar panels to your house and insurance coverage. This is primarily due to the fact solar panels are still quite expensive, and adding the replacement cost is likely to increase your coverage limit.
If your solar panel system is financed through a loan that is not tied to your property, you can sell your home and move prior to paying off the loan. However, it is important to remember, you are still obligated to pay off the remainder of the loan even if you no longer live in the home with the installed system. If you are leasing the panels, you need to check with your solar contractor to see if the lease is transferable to the new homeowners.
There’s no way around it: your solar panels will have to come down to replace your roof. This means you’ll lose access to your renewable energy during a roof replacement. Unfortunately, adding solar panels to your home’s roof means higher maintenance costs because the panels must be removed before replacing or repairing the roof.
Solar systems that are not properly installed and maintained can cause major safety concerns for the cooperative lineworkers and other who could possibly come in contact with the power lines.
Photovoltaic systems are a big concern to firefighters, who often need to access the roof to put out a fire. They need to be confident that they won’t be electrocuted while fighting the fire. For this reason, it is vital that a PV system have an emergency shut off installed where it can be quickly accessed.
Installing solar panels could create frustration for your neighbors. Why? The way most utilities bill consumers includes a fixed cost component to recuperate costs for maintaining the grid for the use of all consumers. When you install solar panels some of your fair share of the fixed grid cost are being subsidized by other consumers. Think about it this way, part of an energy consumers bill includes their fair share of the costs to maintain the grid are put into their kilowatt-hour rate and when that member uses less electricity, they are then passing their portion of the grid costs onto the non-solar consumers.
All consumers of the utility use and need the electric grid and should pay their fair share to maintain it. Current laws do not allow utilities to make up their missing costs from solar members, so your neighbors may be paying part of your share.
States like California, Florida and Hawaii are in the process of changing their net metering laws to eliminate these solar subsidy issues. See this Wall Street Journal article for more details.
Solar to Start New Year With Some Long Shadows – WSJ
Most solar systems are connected to the grid. Because of the two-way flow of electricity, excess energy the system collects during the day flows into your cooperative’s lines. Improper connection and maintenance may endanger people and the reliability of the grid.
Speaking of reliability did you know without batteries a solar array will shut down when the power is lost from the coop.
Ask Us First
Are you aware that when you sign a solar contract you only have 3 days to modify or terminate the contract before you are legally obligated to an investment with no proof of performance? For this reason, it is strongly encouraged for members to CONTACT their local cooperative or utility before signing a CONTRACT. Getting data from your electric provider will strongly benefit your research on a potential solar investment. This will allow you to have accurate usage data to better confirm the estimated results from a solar array. In some cases, solar vendors are able to provide accurate information, but your local co-op wants to ensure you are protected.
Co-op contact info
The best outcome starts with getting yourself, the solar vendor and your electric provider all working together for your energy solution.
Know how self-generation works
Net metering is a process that enables members with a wind or solar system on their home or business to export power that is in excess of their immediate on-site needs. This offsets an equal amount of power supplied by the cooperative at a different time within the same monthly billing period. In this situation the member is billed at the regular cooperative retail rate for the “net” amount of power used that is in excess of power the member generates on site.
If a member generates more power than their home or business uses during the monthly billing period, the excess is metered and put out onto the electric grid. The cooperative subtracts the amount of power purchased from the grid from the amount generated out to the grid and provides the member with a “credit” for the “net excess” power. For most Missouri cooperatives, the credit is calculated by multiplying the number of “net excess” kilowatt-hours times Associated Electric Cooperative’s cost to purchase the fuel needed to generate a kilowatt-hour (called avoided cost).
Member solar panels generate to the grid: 1,000 kWhs
Member receives from the grid: – 950 kWhs
Member receives avoided cost credit for: 50 kWhs
The credits you could earn have to be used within 12 months of receiving the credit
Your electric provider will not send you a check for any excess generation a solar system would produce.
Did you know:
The state net metering statute states that once an electric utility reaches five percent of its single-hour peak load from the previous year in total rated generating capacity of self-generation systems it does not have to offer net metering to its member-consumers.
It also states that “in any given calendar year” the utility is not required to approve any application for interconnection if the total rated generating capacity of all applications for interconnection already approved to date in said calendar year equals or exceeds one percent of its single-hour peak load from the previous calendar year.
This is an effort to protect the reliability of the electric grid. Members interested in installing a renewable energy system can still do so by becoming a qualified facility through our cooperative power supplier, Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. Contact your local co-op for additional information.
10 Steps to Take Before Installing Solar
As prices decline and technology improves, installing a residential solar system—also called a photo-voltaic or PV system—makes sense for some co-op members and is something homeowners are considering. However, even with these recent improvements, it’s important to find out the facts before committing to a purchase.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, BEFORE INVESTING IN A SOLAR SYSTEM.
Your electric cooperative should be one of your first contacts. Experts at your co-op can answer basic questions, provide resource materials, and direct you to reputable websites, contractors and other experts in your area.
MAKE YOUR HOME MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT BEFORE BUYING A SOLAR SYSTEM.
Adding insulation, sealing air leaks, and completing other basic fix-it projects make sense for several reasons. You can cut your energy costs immediately and reduce the size of PV system you purchase. If your goal is to lower your electric bill, this may be all you need to do. Your cooperative or one of their energy partners offer energy audits to help identify priority areas for money saving improvements.
UNDERSTAND HOW A SOLAR SYSTEM MESHES WITH YOUR COOPERATIVE’S SYSTEM.
Most solar systems are designed to provide you with a portion of the electricity needed but not 100 percent. At night, on cloudy days, and possibly at high-energy-use times, you’ll need more power than your PV system can produce. That means you’ll still need electricity from your cooperative’s power lines. Because these systems are grid-connected, energy can flow both ways. Your electric cooperative sets appropriate policies and rates for connecting PV systems to their lines (the grid) and for purchasing any excess energy your system might provide. As you begin to explore solar systems, be sure you ask cooperative experts about interconnection, essential safety precautions, net metering, and any other connection-related details.
REVIEW YOUR CURRENT ENERGY USE SO YOU CAN DETERMINE WHAT SIZE PV SYSTEM TO INSTALL.
Your electric cooperative staff can help review your past energy use, as well as assisting you to determine how potential energy efficiency projects may help lower your future energy use. They can also help you understand how your energy use fluctuates throughout the day, which is another important factor to consider. Having this information will help you determine—with expert assistance—the size and type of system best suited to your situation. For example, if your greatest need for power comes when the sun isn’t shining, solar won’t help.
TALLY COSTS UP FRONT.
Your cooperative does not sell, install, or maintain PV systems at this time, so if you decide to install a PV system, you will either purchase or lease a system from a contractor who is not a part of the cooperative. If you purchase a solar system, you will be the owner, and you’ll be responsible for the purchase price, as well as ongoing maintenance and repair costs. If leasing is the option you prefer, you will pay less initially, but you’ll likely have higher ongoing costs. In either case, it pays to spend time figuring out all of the expenses you’ll be responsible for during the life of the system. These may include installation (in addition to the price of the system), interconnection costs, insurance, taxes, other possible fees. If you are leasing, ask contractors about the term length, if the contract is transferrable to a new homeowner in the event you sell your home, potential for price increases, in addition to any questions you’d ask if you planned to purchase a PV system. In the “credit” column of your price comparisons, list any incentives, rebates, and tax credits offered for either a purchase or a lease. Also, don’t forget to ask how long the system will function.
SEARCH FOR INCENTIVES, REBATES, AND TAX CREDITS.
Any financial incentives available will help reduce your investment costs. Opportunities are changing each year. Your electric cooperative staff and your contractor can provide up-to-date details about available incentives available.
ACCEPT SHORT- AND LONG-TERM RESPONSIBILITIES.
If you purchase a PV system, you’ll need to meet the requirements of your electric cooperative’s interconnection agreement. That includes paying any costs of connecting to the cooperative grid. It is your responsibility to notify them in advance about your installation. After the interconnection requirements are met, and the safety and integrity of your system are approved, your cooperative will take care of the connection to the grid. And, as the owner of the system, you’ll be responsible for maintenance and system repairs. If you lease a system, your responsibilities will depend on the agreement you sign. Be sure you know and understand what your responsibilities are.
FOLLOW ALL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS.
Most solar systems are grid-connected. Because of the two-way flow of electricity, any excess energy your PV system generates during the day will flow onto your cooperative’s lines; therefore, improper connection and maintenance of your system may endanger people and the reliability of the grid. This makes you responsible for the safety of your cooperative’s lineworkers and others who may come in contact with a downed power line, and your cooperative’s equipment.
CHOOSE A REPUTABLE CONTRACTOR/INSTALLER.
Start with a list of options garnered from website research, your electric cooperative, local or state Better Business Bureaus, renewable energy associations, your state energy office, your state Attorney General’s office, extension service staff, neighbors and any other local experts you can call on for assistance and advice. Contact several contractors, especially if recommended by multiple state and local experts. Check out other installations the contractor has completed, comparing bids (get at least three), checking references, and thoroughly examining contracts. If possible, ask a contract specialist or lawyer to review the contract before signing.
MAINTAIN GOOD RECORDS.
Keep files on your pre-purchase research and pre-installation data provided by your cooperative, as well as bids, contracts, inspection reports, maintenance records, and all other details you may need to refer to in the future. In addition, you’ll want to know about system performance, so set up a system to track and compare your actual system performance with estimates provided by the contractor/installer.
Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives support our members’ interest in solar power for their homes or businesses. However, we want to ensure the decision to invest in solar is based on accurate information. It’s not unusual for electric co-ops to hear stories of unscrupulous solar vendors from members after it’s too late to cancel the installation. Those complaints cover a variety of issues including:
- Incomplete installations
- Incorrect installations
- Safety violations
- System generation underperformance
- Improper explanation of net metering policies
- Negative financial impacts
- System payback inaccuracies
- Inability to contact solar vendor after installation
These issues resulted in drastic financial impacts for many co-op members. The Missouri Attorney General’s office is also receiving hundreds of complaints about solar vendors. While not all solar vendors engage in these unethical business practices, we want to protect our co-op members from the vendors who don’t have their best interests in mind.
If you feel you were given false information or false promises from a solar vendor, please use the follow link to file a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. https://ago.mo.gov/app/consumercomplaint
You can contact your local electric cooperative to assist you in completing the form.
Below is a list of false information being given to co-op members, followed by the correct information.
FALSE: I will have no electric bill.
TRUTH: Solar systems most often generate between 60% to 80% of a home’s electricity needs. In addition, all cooperative members pay what is called the “service availability fee” or “grid fee” to have access to the grid and constant reliable power.
FALSE: Some solar vendors quote inaccurate electric rates and inflate potential annual electric rate increases when estimating the payback of the solar system, which calculates to a shorter payback period.
TRUTH: We have been told some vendors are using 6% as the average annual increase in electric rates when the true average is between .05% to 3%. It is crucial to contact your cooperative to get accurate information to estimate your payback.
FALSE: There are some solar vendors who are encouraging co-op members to drastically oversize their solar system and telling them they will make good money from their co-op without explaining to them how the net metering law works.
TRUTH: According the state law, members who generate excess solar energy above the needed monthly use of their home get paid in the form of a credit on their electric bill. If the credit is not used within one year, it goes away. In almost every case, oversizing a solar system will only cost you more money and significantly lengthen the payback period on your investment.
Taking energy efficiency steps can immediately lower your bill and lower cost of potential solar install.
Before making a large renewable investment all solar vendors and electric utilities should tell you to first make your home or business as energy efficient as possible. If you are sending all your hot or cold air out of the house thru inefficient windows or poor insulation, trying to offset your costs with solar or wind generation doesn’t make sense. Your electric co-op or other utility provider can perform a home energy audit and give you a list of easier, inexpensive fixes that could dramatically lower your electric usage. Once those steps are taken, the next step should be to find the most efficient way to heat and cool your home, such as a Ground Source Heat Pump which is another renewable energy option, to lower your electric usage even more. Once those steps are taken and your electric usage has been significantly trimmed, it is now time to look and see if installing a solar array makes sense for you. Having a conversation with your electric co-op and solar vendor will ensure the best possible outcome for you.
Take a look at the energy efficiency options below and see their immediate energy savings.
Here is what you need to know about connecting to your utility’s electric grid.
Hooking a solar system to your electric cooperative’s utility grid is a large responsibility for the safety of the employees working on the lines and for the reliability of the infrastructure. That is why we encourage you to contact your electric co-op first when thinking solar. There are specific safety requirements and inspections necessary to tie a solar array into the electric grid. Your electric co-op will help ensure your installation is done accurately and safely if they are aware the install is happening.
It is important to talk with your electric co-op or utility provider about the size of solar array before installation to ensure the infrastructure can handle the amount of electricity a large solar array could put back on the grid. When sizing a solar array it is important to remember that the goal should be to offset a portion of your onsite needs and not largely over-produce energy. In almost every case, oversizing a solar system will only cost you more money and significantly lengthen the payback period on your investment. Using data from co-op members who have already installed solar, we found that sizing a solar system to cover 60% of your annual generation has the best and quickest return on your investment.
Cost of Reliable Electricity
There is a cost to ensuring your electric co-op’s grid can provide you with reliable electric when a solar panel is not producing needed electricity and one that takes the energy a solar array will produce. This cost is called the service availability or grid fee, and it is a fixed cost shared by all members of the co-op. It is essential that all members, whether they choose solar or not, pay their share to maintain the integrity of the infrastructure. So, if you hear anyone say “if you install solar you won’t have an electric bill” they are not being truthful, and we encourage you to call your electric co-op and inform them of this misconception.
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Please be advised that Tri-County Electric has reached the net metering capacity as defined in the Missouri state statute. Members interested in installing a renewable energy system can still do so by becoming a qualified facility through Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. For more information, please contact their office at 660-457-3733.