Alternative Energy Also called renewable energy; this type of power comes from sources that won’t run out. Energy resulting from a natural source not depleted through use (sun, water, wind, geothermal heat, and biomass energy). 

Avoided Cost The incremental costs to an electric utility of electric energy or capacity or both which, but for the purchase from the qualifying facility or qualifying facilities, such utility would generate itself or purchase from another source. 

Distributed Generation (DG) The generation of electricity from a number of small power plants installed at the site where they will be used as an alternative to concentrating power generation in large, centralized facilities located in remote areas. 

Customer-Owned Generation typically uses renewable energy sources, including small hydro, biomass, biogas, solar power, wind power, and geothermal power. 

Grid-tied Solar A type of solar system permanently connected to the electrical power grid. Grid-tied does not require batteries, as in the case of off-grid solar systems. Grid-tied solar systems allow the member to use solar energy when available and then to channel excess power back into the grid. 

Interconnection The process by which a solar customer applies for and receives permission from their local utility company to connect to the utility grid. 

Interconnection Agreement An agreement between WCEC and the member to connect to the grid and also purchase and power that the solar system puts into the grid.  

Solar Array An array is a group of cells/modules. Since a single cell can’t usually generate enough energy to complete a specific task, most panels feature an array of multiple panels. 

Solar Canopies Panels raised above the ground on structures in order to leave the land underneath usable for other purposes like car parking. 

Mounting Hardware The equipment used to secure solar panels to rooftops, or to ground mounted systems. These are often made with lightweight aluminum frames to reduce roof impact and withstand the elements.  

Solar Efficiency is the percentage of the solar energy shining on a PV device that is converted into usable electricity. 

Net Billing Accounting whereby the solar member generates electricity for personal use and sells any excess energy to the utility for a wholesale price set by the utility, while purchasing power at the retail rate. 

Net Metering The solar energy which a customer generates for themselves is metered (or measured), so that any excess electricity which is generated can be banked (think “rollover minutes”) to the customer’s account for future consumption. 

Inverter Equipment that converts direct current (DC) solar generated electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity that can power your lights and appliances. Micro inverters, placed on the back of the most efficient panels optimize solar production. 

Carbon Neutral Everything you do that produces carbon dioxide, from driving a motor vehicle to powering your home and more creates a carbon footprint. Being “carbon neutral” means that you emit the same amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that you offset by some other means like adding solar panels to your home or switching to an electric vehicle. 

Kilowatt Hour (kWh) is a measure of how much energy you’re using per hour. 

Solar Investment Tax Credit The inflation reduction act provided for tax credits to incentivize installation of solar. It allows those eligible to get a credit of up to 30% of the cost of their unit.  

Dollars per watt or dollars per kilowatt hour cost per watt of energy produced by the PV system. 

Photovoltaic (PV) This technology uses material called semiconductors to transform sunlight into power. When sunlight hits these materials, photons lose some electrons, which go into the PV material to complete a circuit, which generates electricity. 

Fixed Tilt A type of solar PV that uses a tracking system to maintain a fixed angle with the sun. This allows the panels to track the sun throughout the day, increasing energy production as the sun moves from lower in the sky to higher in the sky. 

Azimuth The direction of a celestial object (the sun) from an object (solar panel).  

Peak Sun Hours A peak sun hour is typically defined as an hour of sunlight that offers1,000 watts of photovoltaic power per square meter. Peak sunlight hours describe the intensity of sunlight in a specific area. Peak sun-hours occur when the sun is highest in the sky. 

Stand-alone Solar Unit A stand-alone solar system is also known as anoff-grid system. It consists of solar panels that convert sunshine to electricity, batteries to store the electricity, a backup source of power, and an inverter or charger. 

Solar Investment Tax Credit The inflation reduction act provided for tax credits to incentivize installation of solar. It allows those eligible to get a credit of up to 30% of the cost of their unit.