Residential Solar and Net Metering
Solar panels are an increasingly popular option for residential power consumers, and they can make financial sense. However, it is important to carefully review the financial implications of installing home solar panels, and to be wary of deceptive sales pitches that sound too good to be true.
As your trusted energy provider, we can answer any questions you have about how installing solar panels would impact your electric bill. If you are considering solar, please call us first at 1-800-521-6144 to review your energy usage and the cost and benefits of installing solar panels at your home.
There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding whether to install solar panels. First, although many companies tout solar panels as a way to achieve “energy independence” and “take control of energy costs,” almost all electric consumers remain connected to the grid.
Solar panels do not produce uniform levels of power 24/7, so utility power is needed to provide continuous power at night, when it is cloudy or when the energy demand from a residence is simply higher than the output from the solar array. Most solar arrays being installed today require utility power to function. If utility power is off, the solar array does not continue providing energy to the home.
Many quotes for solar arrays also factor in projected utility rate increases of 3%-4%. These projected increases are much higher than historic increases for Ozarks members, and drastically increase the estimated savings over time. In fact, historically any rate increase has been below 2% and more often we go several years without increasing rates.
Finally, many solar companies will make the misleading claim that you can eliminate your electric bill. While it is possible to offset your usage with a large enough solar array, utility members also pay fixed fees for the infrastructure and maintenance necessary to make electricity available 24/7/365. The minimum bill for an Ozarks Electric member is $18 plus taxes in Oklahoma and $22 plus taxes in Arkansas.
- Always take the time to research claims, estimates and promises before signing a contract.
- If you decide to install solar, make sure you get the right size for your situation. Buying an oversized system can result in a much longer timeframe to recoup your investment.
- Consider investing in energy efficiency measures before solar — home energy improvements often have a higher return on an investment and can potentially save you thousands of dollars.
- Remember that solar systems tied to the grid require utility approval.
- Make sure your property or homeowners association and city regulations allow residential solar panels.
- Call Ozarks Electric to discuss.
If you do decide to install solar or another renewable energy source at your home, you will need a net metering agreement. The agreement allows you to use energy produced by your equipment to offset the power you purchase from Ozarks Electric.
The term “net” comes from the fact that electricity produced by your renewable generation is subtracted from your total bill. In simple terms, we take the kWh that is produced from the renewable generation and subtract it from your total energy usage. If you happen to produce more than you use for the month, any remainder is carried over and banked. The excess generation will continue to carry over until the credit is utilized, or 24 months has expired, when you may request a check for the cooperative's avoided cost. You may also choose to continue accumulating kWh on a month-to-month basis.
Getting Starting With Net Metering
After you have decided on what type of generation source to utilize, there are just a couple of steps in the application process.
- Thirty (30) days prior to installation, a one-line diagram and application must be supplied to Ozarks Electric Cooperative for review. A one-line diagram is a simple drawing or schematic showing how the renewable generation will connect to the home and inevitably be put back onto the grid.
- Once the renewable generation is completed, Ozarks Electric must be contacted to inspect the facilities. Our personnel will then inspect the equipment and perform a load drop test. A load drop test is simply turning on the renewable generation and disconnecting the electrical service to ensure that the renewable generator will not back feed the system and create an unsafe condition.
If you have any questions about net metering, please contact our Manager of Energy Services at 479-684-4933 or through our contact form. To submit your standard interconnect agreement via mail, please send to the address below.
Manager of Energy Services
c/o Ozarks Electric Cooperative
PO Box 848
Fayetteville, AR 72702
Current Net Metering Members
If you are currently signed up for net metering and have any questions about your equipment, connection or about adding panels to your array, please contact our Manager of Energy Services at 479-684-4933 or through our contact form.