Before you install solar on your home, you'll want to learn about the benefits of a grid-tied system versus an off-grid system. For most homeowners, grid-tied systems are the simplest and most economical way to go solar. Only grid-tied systems are available through U Community Solar.
Grid-tied systems allow you to receive credit for excess electricity that you produce and receive electricity from the grid when your usage exceeds the production of your panels.
Off-grid systems are not connected to the electrical grid and require a battery back-up or a supplemental power source to power your home the sun is not out.
Grid-tied systems are connected to the grid through an interconnection process and you are compensated for your energy production through a net metering contract. Utah has excellent net metering and interconnection policies that make it easier and cheaper for solar customers to connect to the grid. Your UCS solar contractor will work with you to submit the applications for interconnection and net metering with the utility.
Net metering is the process by which residential energy producers are credited for the excess energy that they feed back into the electrical grid. Net metering is a billing arrangement between the customer and the utility; in Utah, residential energy customers served by Rocky Mountain Power are credited ‘kilowatt-hour for kilowatt-hour” for any excess generation beyond what they consume. These kilowatt-hour credits roll over month to month, until the end of the annualized billing period (which is March 31). This means that if a solar PV system generates 100 extra kWh in July, the customer’s bill in August is credited 100 kWh. After the annualized billing period, any unused credits are granted to the utility.
Net metering policies for regulated utilities, like Rocky Mountain Power, are ultimately decided by the Public Service Commission. Rocky Mountain Power has submitted a request to update the rates their customers pay, for regular homeowners and solar homeowners alike. The Public Service Commission will rule on this request in the next few months. In 2014, the Utah legislative session included a bill that addressed net metering. Rather than take a step backward on Utah's strong A-grade rooftop solar policy, the bill simply directs the Public Service Commission to look closely at both the costs and the significant benefits that private investments in homegrown rooftop solar brings to Utah and all Rocky Mountain Power customers. If you're interested in learning more about net metering, visit Utah's Clean Energy's website or recieve updates on this issue as they develop by signing up for Utah Clean Energy's newsletter.
Interconnection refers to the connection of a solar energy system to the electrical grid. Interconnection allows a homeowner to use the power generated by their solar PV system while it is generating a sufficient amount of electricity, and use utility-generated electricity from the grid when the energy demand is greater than the amount of energy produced by the solar PV system. Unless there is a battery backup system in place, any excess energy generated by a solar PV is fed back into the grid.