Fascinating Solar Power

Are you getting the most for your money?

The power of the sun is simply amazing. So is technology that enables sunlight to be transformed into electricity. At WCEC, members are increasingly taking advantage of this with grid-tied solar panels. These members generate electricity for their homes and businesses with solar panels. Then, they route any excess electricity they don’t use to WCEC’s grid to be used by others.  These accounts are paid for the kWh’s they send to WCEC via a bill credit. The rate paid is based on market and economic factors and is periodically adjusted.

Avoiding Buying VS Getting Paid – 

For the best financial advantage, a member with grid-tied solar should try to use every single kWh their unit makes. That’s because for every kWh of solar they manufacture and use, they’re avoiding purchasing a kWh at a price higher than they are paid. There’s a good reason the amount a member pays per kWh, and the amount a member is paid per kWh, is not the same. The rate the cooperative charges a member per kWh includes the cost of the purchased electricity, as well all WCEC’s overhead and facilities costs to include wires, meters, substations, and other hardware and overhead costs like trucks, fuel, people, and offices.  For obvious reasons, we don’t pay the member for the cooperatives services and equipment when we buy their electricity.  We just pay them for their electricity they sell us.

For the Sake of Safety

A member’s solar panel that is not connected to WCEC’s system is known as a “stand-alone” or “isolated” system. A solar unit that is tied to a dwelling or structure connected to a WCEC meter, even if the member is not exporting power to WCEC, is called a grid-tied or Distributed Energy Resource. Whether a member wants to export excess kWh to WCEC or not, the grid-tied systems must be inspected and approved by WCEC to ensure it has a properly working UL 1741 compliant Inverter.  Such systems must also have a visible, lockable, and accessible solar A/C disconnect switch as well as proper labelling announcing the presence of solar energy.

Without the safety system, there is threat of electrocution. A connected solar unit operates the same as any other generator.  It can back feed electricity onto powerlines to cause a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation for linemen. A properly working inverter stops power from being sent to a deenergized line.

That’s why it’s critical that all members notify WCEC of any solar units that are connected to structures tied to WCEC meters. The coop will inspect to ensure the proper safety equipment is in place to avoid back feed.  Additionally, the cooperative will mark the solar generation location on the system map, so linemen are aware of it when they are working on lines, and they can check to make sure there is no electrical current back feeding.

Fun in the Sun that’s Safe and Pays Dividends

Every member has their own economic and social reasons for choosing solar. You are encouraged to thoroughly research if adopting solar is a sound economical solution.  We support all members adopting what best suits them.

To learn more about implementing grid-tied solar, or to register an existing system, just call and ask for our Solar Representative at 903-763-2203 or inquire by email at solar@wcec.org.