Distributed generation (DG) refers to the generation of electricity for use on-site, rather than transmitting energy over the electric grid from larger facilities like power plants. Interest in DG installations, especially solar power, have become increasingly popular among PEC members.
PEC wants to help our members make informed decisions about DG. To get started, determine the priority that describes you best.
At PEC, we fully support member installations of DG systems, but want to help you make an informed decision.
What to ask an installer
PEC recommends acquiring multiple estimates and checking references prior to deciding on a solar installer. When checking references, ask the customer how accurate the installer’s estimates for cost, energy production, and payback period turned out to be. Asking the following questions of a solar installer may be helpful:
- Can you provide at least three references for PEC members you have installed solar systems for?
- Can you provide photos and details of installations you have completed similar to what I will have?
- Can solar be installed without modifying or reinforcing my roof?
- How long have you been in business?
- Are you licensed and insured? Do you have certifications?
- Do you use subcontractors for any part of the system installation?
- What equipment will be installed, and what are the manufacturer names?
- Does the equipment and/or your work come with warranties?
PEC’s lessons learned
PEC has worked with members and installers to successfully install thousands of systems. Here are some lessons learned that may or may not be applicable to your installation.
- Your house will use all of the electricity your solar panels produce before using electricity from the power grid. If your panels produce more electricity than your home uses, the excess production is fed back into the power grid.
- PEC generates monthly invoicing, which outlines electricity delivered to you and the excess production we receive from your solar system. At the end of each billing cycle any surplus production is applied to your bill at a Sustainable Power Credit. It is possible your system may produce enough electricity to cover usage, fees, and taxes in a given month. However, during low-production months, these charges may still be due.
- More often, if the system is sized correctly for your home and usage habits, the system will produce enough energy to cover baseline usage most of the year. Systems sized to over-produce have a longer payback period.