Save Money on Home Solar With Utility Solar Studies

Sabrina Lopez
March 1, 2017
2 min read

Recently, you may have received an invitation from your local utility provider to participate in a special solar study. Often, these invitations offer a discount, free equipment or even monetary incentive for your participation.  Here in Arizona, SRP is currently offering a package that includes about $3,000 in free equipment and credits. 

But what is the utility provider getting out of it? Is it some sort of scam?

Contrary to popular belief, utilities need more access to information on how people use electricity. This is even more challenging when looking at a home that generates part of its own electricity with solar. In short, utilities can only see the total energy a home pulls from the grid or pushes back, like a solar home , and the time of day that push or pull happens. Utilities have virtually no visibility of what’s happening inside the home and how that energy is distributed.

Why should this information matter to a utility company from which you no longer demand energy? Shouldn’t they be less concerned with a solar home since it produces most of its power?

Well, the short answer is no. The exponential growth of solar has a large effect on the local utilities, but not in the way that you think. As of 2016, Arizona has approximately 441,000 homes with solar. Solar now accounts for almost 5% of the state’s electricity. Now think about this: what happens when a storm rolls in, solar energy production drops, and all 441,000 homes now need to pull their energy from the grid? The utility is legally and socially responsible for maintaining electricity for all its customers, even those not always reliant on it. So when there is a large unexpected spike in demand, the utility has to resort to firing up costly peaking generation stations to meet the heightened demand.

To better understand how solar impacts the grid and prepare for a more solar-rich future, utilities are turning to their customers for help. These studies generally include smart meters and inverters that collect usage data that can better inform the utilities about solar and individual usage patterns. Using this data, utilities can better shape the future of the grid for improved efficiency and reliability.

So, how do you know if the program is right for you?

  • Determine if the incentives are valuable to you: There are programs available right now in SRP territory that can save you as much as $3,000! APS occasionally runs similar programs as well.
  • Contact a utility-certified solar expertBoth APS and SRP offer certification programs for local solar installers. Certified installers such as Sun Valley Solar Solutions are up to date with the latest studies and can guide you through the qualification process.  
  • Contact your utility companyIt Is never a bad idea to go straight to the source. The utility company can answer any questions you might have about the terms and conditions of the study, as well as the validity of any incentives and promotions that may be offered.

To learn more about the requirements for SRP’s current Inverter Study Enrollment, contact a Sun Valley Solar Representative today.