Information on member solar facilities
North Arkansas Electric Cooperative personnel have heard from an increasing number of members who have bought or financed solar facilities and are dissatisfied with their electric bills or confused about the net-metering process.
NAEC recommends members considering solar become familiar with the net-metering section of the co-op's tariff filed with the Arkansas Public Service Commission. Click here to view a PDF of the section. It includes the Preliminary Interconnection Site Review Request and Standard Interconnection Agreement for Net-metering Facilities that must be completed before a solar facility can connect to NAEC's distribution system.
Members should consider the payback and ensure any estimates provided by licensed and insured vendors are using NAEC's kWh rates and taking into consideration the minimum daily charge. Many have installed solar panels and then have electric bills plus solar loan payments that are higher than their previous electric bills.
Questions to consider in advance
- Is the estimated energy savings worth the investment? Will your average monthly electric bill exceed the monthly payment for your solar facility plus your minimum NAEC bill? The electric distribution charge is commonly called a minimum bill and is $1.04 a day for a residential single-phase service. It is intended to cover the fixed costs of the service.
- Do any estimated savings provided by the solar vendor use NAEC’s kWh rates and factor in NAEC’s electric distribution charge?
- Is it more cost-effective to invest in other energy-saving measures, such as a new air-source heat pump or more insulation?
- Do you understand the net-metering billing process outlined in NAEC’s tariff approved by the Arkansas Public Service Commission?
- Is the solar vendor licensed and insured?
- Can the solar vendor provide references from within NAEC’s service area?
- Does the desired spot for the panels receive adequate sunlight? Are trees or other structures in the way?
- Is there a large upfront payment?
- Will you own the panels, or will they be leased?
- Are there any hidden costs, such as a roof that needs to be replaced before installing the panels? What would the cost be to remove and reinstall panels if a roof must be replaced?
- Are there ongoing maintenance fees?
- How long is the warranty for the panels, inverter and other components?
- How long has the solar installer and solar manufacturer been in business?
- Are rebates or other financial incentives available?
- Do you plan to remain in your home through the length of the loan? Will you reap the benefits of the investment?
- How will it affect your property insurance? Some members have reported higher insurance costs after installing solar facilities; one member said his policy was canceled.
Steps to connecting solar facility to NAEC system
- Submit to NAEC the Preliminary Interconnection Site Review Request found in NAEC’s tariff approved by the Arkansas Public Service Commission. (Click here to open a PDF.) Include supporting documentations, including the system diagram and system specifications sheets.
- NAEC will review documents and request changes if needed to meet NAEC specifications.
- NAEC gives preliminary approval for installation after all requirements are met.
- Submit to NAEC the Standard Interconnection Agreement for Net-metering Facilities found in NAEC’s tariff approved by the Arkansas Public Service Commission. Please note: NAEC engineering personnel complete Section 7 of the agreement; you are responsible for working with the state, county or city authority having jurisdiction to complete Section 5. We recommend you request inspection as early as possible as the inspectors could have a backlog.
- NAEC engineering personnel schedule an appointment to replace the existing meter with a bidirectional meter. Please note: NAEC requires someone with knowledge of the solar facility to be present and energize the system. We cannot complete this step on your behalf.
- You have permission to operate the solar facility.
- NAEC does not allow line-side taps.
- All connections must be below the main overcurrent protective device.
- NAEC recommends connections through a backfeed breaker and not taps.
Contact NAEC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 870-895-3221 during business hours for more information.
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