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Getting Solar Approval from Your Utility Company

Getting solar approval from your utility company is a key step in going solar.

Once your solar power system plans have been approved and solar panels have been installed on your property, both your city and local utility will need to provide approval before your system can be turned on, connected to the grid, and start delivering the benefits of residential solar power.

As you might expect, that process involves a lot of paperwork and legwork. But what you might not expect is that Baker Electric Home Energy handles the majority of the process for you. Still, if you want to know how to get your utility company to approve your home solar installation, follow these guidelines:

Getting Permission To Operate Solar/PMO Solar from your utility company

Before your system can be activated and hooked into the electrical grid—a process known as “interconnection,” you must first obtain approval from your individual utility company. (Note: this is a completely separate process from local government approval.) Interconnection approval is important because it ensures a solar installation can safely connect and operate on the electrical grid.

The first step in the utility approval process involves obtaining formal permission to operate. This demands that you complete an extensive Net Energy Metering application for interconnection.

What is Net Energy Metering (NEM)?

Once you go solar, your electrical meter will track how much electricity you use over the course of a year. It will also measure how much excess electricity is being sent back into the utility grid. Consumers only pay for the electricity that exceeds the net amount their system produces.  During the night, or cloudy days, when their system is not producing electricity, it will draw electricity from the grid and use the credits their system has generated. At the end of a 12‐month  period, if their system produces more energy than used, their utility will compensate them for the difference. This is called Net Energy Metering (NEM).

As it stands now, with NEM 1.0, consumers are getting paid close to the full retail price per kilowatt hour (kWh) for their excess electricity.

As you consider switching to solar energy, you should know that California’s Governor Brown has signed AB 327, a law requiring state regulators to set new NEM rules by July 2017 or upon reaching a 5% customer participation cap, whichever first. While experts believed for some time the new NEM rules were likely to reduce the amount per kilowatt hour consumers receive when they “sell” electricity back to their utility, we now know this is not the case. NEM 2.0 will come with some new changes, but offering anything less than full retail value for solar electricity is not expected to be one of them.

Space in SDG&E’s current NEM program is expected to reach its participation cap in May of 2016. The good news is that consumers installing a residential solar power system before then will be grandfathered into the current program and enjoy maximized savings for the next 20 years.

For this reason, we at Baker Electric Home Energy recommend consumers consider expediting their decision to go solar to take advantage of the preferred kWh rates utilities are currently offering.

Information SDG&E and SCE will want to know about your solar system

Obtaining permission to operate solar/pmo solar and connect your residential solar system to the grid involves submitting a detailed Net Energy Metering application for interconnection to your utility. While each utility is a little different in the information they require, these applications share one common trait: they are all quite extensive, and demand a lot of technical information.

View SCE’s Net Energy Metering application for interconnection >>

Most consumers will find this application process time-consuming and frustrating, which is why we at Baker Electric Home Energy handle this step for our customers. Our project coordinators are very technically oriented, and can be a big help because they know the answers to these questions well beforehand.

Getting a solar inspection from the city

After your Net Energy Metering application for interconnection has been approved by your utility, but before you can operate your solar system, an inspection from the city is required. A solar inspection from the city is one of the last steps before your solar power system can be turned on and connected to the grid. The onsite inspection ensures that everything has been installed properly and according to the approved plans.

(Note: your solar system can’t begin to operate until you have received approval from both your city and utility company.)

Utility approval of the inspection

Once the onsite inspection is complete, the inspector will inform your utility that the solar system meets all the necessary requirements for operation. Your utility company will review the inspection report, then issue you permission to operate your solar power system.

At this stage, the long, twisting and turning journey between solar installation and full operation is over. You can now turn on your solar system and start saving money on your monthly energy bill.

How home Solar Batteries will affect your utility relationship

With a typical “grid‐tied” residential solar solution your system is never disconnected from your utility. But for all its many benefits, it does have a few drawbacks. For one, it will not generate electricity when there is a blackout. Plus, customers still have to pay a small connectivity charge to the utility for being on the grid.

Industry experts see home battery storage as a way for homeowners to cut their ties to the utility company, fully remove themselves from the grid, and truly become their own power plant. Batteries for solar panels enable consumers like you to keep all your electrical systems running at night from the power you’ve gathered throughout the day. Home battery storage can also help your household carry on in the event of a blackout.

As a forward-thinking company, we at Baker are excited about the many benefits home battery storage can bring customers. We don’t just offer solar installations, but an array of products and services that deliver long‐term energy solutions, including home battery  storage.

Batteries for solar panels promise to help homeowners create and control their own energy. At Baker Electric Home Energy, we are dedicated to remaining on the forefront of all solar technologies, including battery storage for residential solar power.

Baker can speed permission to operate your solar system

By the time you’re ready to get solar approval from the utility company, you’re almost at the finish line. Awaiting you there are lower electric bills, a smaller carbon footprint, plus peace of mind knowing you’re doing a good turn for the environment.

Baker Electric Home Energy is a South California-based solar installer committed to educating homeowners in the area about the benefits of investing in solar systems and how it helps you optimize your home’s energy consumption. For more information on getting solar approval from your utility company, contact us.