Recently you may have received an invitation from your local utility provider to participate in a special solar study. Often times, these invitations offer a discount, free equipment or even monetary incentive for your participation. Here in Arizona, SRP is currently offering a package that includes about $3,000 in free equipment and credits.
But, what is the utility provider getting out of it? Is it some sort of scam?
Contrary to popular belief, utilities actually have very little access to information on how people use electricity. And this is even more challenging when looking at a home that generates part of its own electricity with solar. In short, utilities are only able to see the total energy a home pulls from the grid, or pushes back, in the case of a solar home , as well as time of day that push or pull actually happens. Utilities have virtually no visibility to what’s happening inside the home and how that energy is being distributed.
Why should this information even matter to a utility company from which you no longer demand all your energy from? Shouldn’t they be less concerned with a solar home, since it produces most of its own power?
Well, the short answer is no. The exponential growth of solar has a pretty large effect on the local utilities, but not in the way that you think. As of 2016, Arizona has approximately 441,000 homes with solar. In fact, solar now accounts for almost 5% of the state’s electricity. Now think about this: what happens when a storm rolls in, solar energy production drops, and all 441,000 homes now need to pull their energy from the grid? The utility is legally and socially responsible to maintain electricity for all of its customers, even those who are not reliant on it at all times. So when there is a large unexpected spike in demand, the utility has to resort to firing up costly peaking generation stations to meet the heightened demand.
In looking to better understand how solar impacts the grid and prepare for a more solar rich future, utilities are turning to their customers for help. These studies generally include smart meters and inverters that collect usage data that can better inform the utilities about solar and individual usage patterns. Using this data, utilities can better shape the future of the grid for improved efficiency and reliability.
So, how do you know if the program is right for you?
- Determine if the incentives are valuable to you: There are programs available right now in SRP territory that can save you as much as $3,000! APS occasionally runs similar programs as well.
- Contact a utility-certified solar expert: Both APS and SRP offer certification programs for local solar installers. Certified installers such as Sun Valley Solar Solutions are up to date with the latest studies and can guide you through the qualification process.
- Contact your utility company: It Is never a bad idea to go straight to the source. The utility company can answer any questions you might have about the terms and conditions of the study, as well as the validity of any incentives and promotions may be offering.
To learn more about the requirements for SRP’s current Inverter Study Enrollment, contact a Sun Valley Solar Representative today. The deadline for the SRP Inverter study ends March 3rd, 2017. Don’t delay, and miss your opportunity to save up to $3,000 off your new solar installation!