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What are RECs?

All grid-tied solar energy systems produce two distinct products: physical electricity, and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). A REC represents “the property rights to the environmental, social, and other non-power qualities of renewable electricity generation.”[1] A REC is sold separately from the physical electricity produced by a renewable-based generation source. A REC product conveys the attributes and benefits of the renewable electricity, not the electricity itself.

What are net metering bill credits?

Some utilities (including Rocky Mountain Power) offer net metering programs which allow solar homeowners to receive monthly credits on their bill for the electricity they produce.  These credits are used to offset your electricity usage and reduce your bill, but they cannot be transferred to a different owner.

What is a REC?

In addition to clean energy, your solar energy system also produces Renewable Energy Certificates.  If your system is registered with a certified reporting agency, you can receive one REC every time your solar energy system produces 1,000 kilowatt-hours (or 1 megawatt-hour) of electricity. RECs do not impact the price you pay for electricity or the net metering bill credits you accrue each month - you still own the clean electricity produced by your panels and can use it to receive credits towards your electricity bill.

What is the purpose of a REC?

Solar panels feed electrons onto the grid, where they mix with electrons from other generation sources. It is impossible to tell whether any given electron came from a solar panel or a coal plant, so RECs help institutions that have sustainability goals track and monitor their renewable energy purchases. 

Why give RECs to the University of Utah?

The University of Utah is supporting U Community Solar to help members of the University of Utah campus community go solar and to invest in new, local sources of renewable energy to power our community.  Participating in U Community Solar gives you, as an individual homeowner, access to a substantial discount and a streamlined, simplified solar installation process.

Benefits of U Community Solar:

  • Expertise and confidence: The contractors participating in the program have been screened for experience, professionalism, and to lock in low prices for solar energy.
  • Savings!: U Community Solar is offering participants an average savings of 25% off of the “retail” price for solar. For an average 4 KW system, that equals nearly $2000!
  • First in the nation: The University of Utah is the first university to help members of the campus community go solar through a program like this. By participating in U Community Solar and donating your RECs to the U, you are helping the University of Utah meet sustainability goals and address climate change and air quality in meaningful ways.

[1] http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/gpmarket/rec.htm