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solar electric systems and your utility meter

Grid tie solar electric systems connect to your existing electrical service and send extra power you generate back to your utility company. Your utility company in return, depending on their interconnection agreement give you a credit based on the number of kWh (kilowatt hours) you contribute to the grid each month. This is called net-metering, it allows you to offset or eliminate your electric bill through solar panels without leaving the reliability of the electric grid itself. This concept is converting homes and businesses across the world into mini power plants that give back to the grid versus just being a liability to it. When you are using electricity from the gird, your meter spins forwards in the normal direction. On the flip side, when you install a grid connected solar electric system and you produce more then you are using, your electric meter will spin backwards! Although before installing you solar electric system be aware of the type of meter you have on your home or business, because some older electric meters records the number of time the meter spins and does not register if the meter is spinning backwards or forwards. In this case if you do not have a “two-way” meter you would be billed for the power you contribute to the grid, yikes! Most locations have two-way meters although if you are unsure, call your utility company to confirm. If you find out you only have a one-way meter, you can always upgrade your...

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Santee Cooper holding solar power customers hostage!

Thanks to a reader comment, we dug into the South Carolina utility company called Santee Cooper because we wrote yesterday about how the state of South Carolina has implemented a statewide net metering law. Net-Metering is offered in most states across the USA but the customers of the Santee Cooper utility, about 2 million of them are being held hostage by the utility company becase they are not offering true net-metering. This utility company has came up with their own sneaky plan to keep customers from buying and installing solar by offering “net-billing”, which is their own version of net-metering that totally favors the utility company. The interesting part is when you visit the Santee Cooper website they show off they “Live Green” and brag about their solar power initiatives, but it’s just plain and simple Greenwashing. According to SourceWatch Greenwashing is defined as the following, “the unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government, a politician or even a non-government organization to create a pro-environmental image, sell a product or a policy, or to try and rehabilitate their standing with the public and decision makers after being embroiled in controversy.”The defintion of Greenwashing perfectly fits what Santee Cooper is doing with by not offering net-metering like the rest of the country and offering a “net-billing” which really does no encorage customers to install solar panels. The South Carolina Net Metering Blog does a good job describing net billing offering by Santee Cooper. Net-Billing is a pilot program in which only 10 people can participate. Once you install a solar power system and particpate in the program you have to change your rate to time of use. Since its a pilot program, there can be dramatic shifts in policy which could leave the solar power system owner holding the bags. Santee Cooper’s board of directors can change the program at their will. The CEO of the company thinks they are being generous compared to other utilites. We here in California have very generous utility companies (even though they are not perfect) Our state has the most solar power installations compared to anywhere else in the USA. So this message goes out to Santee Cooper, get your act together, offer real net-metering and stop playing games with your customers, we have no time to play these types of games and discorage the use of solar power, the renewable energy revolution is going to happen with or without Santee Cooper. Santee Cooper customers, if you are dealing with the utility to install solar power on your home or business and are having trouble with Santee Cooper and...

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South Carolina finally offers Net Metering

South Carolina, lagging behind the rest of the USA finally offers residents the ability to plug their solar panel system right into the grid to take advantage of net-metering. Net-Metering is important for solar power system owners because it allows the owner to receive a credit for energy they send back into the grid. Now solar panel system owners don’t have to store the collected energy in a battery bank, which could be dangerous, costly and annoying because of maintenance required, the grid becomes the battery bank for the solar power system owner. Now that the utility companies in South Carolina are required to offer net-metering this could save residents up to 30% on their monthly electric bills. A good step in the right direction for the state because it allows them to keep the revenues within their state and helps the state achieve its energy independence goals. You can learn more about how you can take advantage of a a grid connected system at S.C. Energy Office...

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Connecting your solar or wind power system to the grid

The majority of the systems installed in the USA and Germany are grid tied systems, meaning the solar panel or wind power systems are connected to the utility grid, extra electricity generated is sent back to the utility in which the owner of the system gets a credit per kWh (kilowatt hour) produced, a term called net-metering. Before you run out and connect your system up to the grid to take advantage of net-metering…..you need to first contact your utility company to review the utility’s interconnection agreement. The interconnection agreement sets the ground rules for the terms and conditions including the requirement for building permits, home owners insurance, and grid connection specifications. Interconnection agreements are standard documents although each utility has its own document. Some utilities may even charge you a small fee to connect your system to the grid if its a very large installation, but again this depends on your particular utility that’s serving your area. To turn your home or small business into a power plant, start by analyzing your electric bill and your historical usage, then call your utility to review the interconnection agreement so you make sure you understand the terms set by your utility company or just give us a call and we can guide you through the process of understanding your electric bill, figure out how many solar panels you need, and work with your utility company to help you file your interconnection...

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