Get the most of your investment
Contact Your Utility
Since you are connected to Santee Electric Cooperative, you are
required to let them know that you are connecting a solar
Agreement.) You will also want to discuss your plans with your
cooperative representative, so that he or she can provide
information to you that you will need.
There are several good reasons why you will want to speak with
your Santee Electric Cooperative representative:
• They know what you need to interconnect your solar panels to the
• You may need some information or history on your electric usage
which they can provide
• They will have experience from working with other member-owners
who have gone through the interconnection process and this may
simplify it for you.
It is important to realize that your solar panels will generate
electricity whenever there is any sunlight, and that there is a
potential for power line workers to receive an electric shock.
There are standards for the equipment you will be installing which
help protect the workers, and the required paperwork and
inspections are to make certain that you and your installer have a
Below is a checklist of what must be done to interconnect. To
further assist you, your cooperative representative will go over
and discuss this list with you.
o Interconnection application
o Application fee
o Provide the required electrical drawing
o Provide a signed interconnection agreement
o Install the required disconnect
o Provide the necessary insurance documentation*
Sizing Your System
Sizing your system correctly so that it provides the optimum
return on your investment requires a closer look at:
• Your patterns of electric usage
• What the panels will generate when they are placed in the
orientation on your home
Oversizing your system means you will send more excess electricity
onto the grid. Payment or credit for this electricity is determined
by Santee Electric Cooperative and the laws and policies it must
follow. Undersizing your system could mean that you pay a lot for a
relatively smaller system when you could increase the size for just
a little more cost and get extra benefit.
The best way to approach this is to look at how much electricity
you use each month, and how much electricity the solar installation
will produce each month. Remember that your use and production go
up and down during each day and think about how much solar
electricity you will really be able to use. Your installer and
Santee Electric Cooperative representative may be able to answer
questions about what is best for your situation.
Financing and Tax Incentive Considerations
You may be paying for your own system at the time of
installation, and looking to be paid back in savings on your
electric bill. There are other financing options, such as leasing
the system or borrowing the money to pay for the project. There are
also incentives available, such as tax credits, which can make the
project more favorable to you. You will want to look at both South
Carolina and Federal incentives. The Database of State Incentives
for Renewables and Energy Efficiency (DSIRE) is one database that
tracks these incentives http://www.dsireusa.org.
Additionally, the South Carolina Energy Office is a good source of
Estimate Costs and Savings
There are some tools available to help you calculate how much
electricity you will produce, and what you can save. click
Notify your utility if you make major change(s) to your solar PV
system especially size or insurance.
*This insurance needs to be kept in place as long as the system is
Ready, Set, GO!
Congratulations!!! You've done your research and are ready to
install your solar PV system to your house. To make the process as
effortless as possible, and to make sure that the installation is
done properly, below is a final checklist of questions to ask of
your installer and/or others.
• Has my installer provided me copies of all required permits?
(state, city, county, local, etc.)
• What building code requirements is my installer following?
• Has my installer met the fire safety code and discussed with
• What insurance is needed?
• Have I provided liability for the
• Do I need additional homeowner's
• Will I be able to monitor the output of the solar? (You will
probably want to track the output to see how the system is working.
There are many Data Acquisition Systems (DAS) available that will
allow you to see this data via internet link)
• Has installer provided the warranties on the pieces of equipment
and installation? (e.g., the panels, the inverter, the workmanship,
• Do I know who to contact to fix problems, make repairs or
• Does my Cooperative have all the information and documents
needed to interconnect my solar PV system?
Maintaining your System
As is the case with all appliances, your solar PV system will
require some maintenance over its lifetime. Solar PV systems are
very durable and can usually last up to 20 plus years. However, the
general consensus is to check your panels every 1 to 2 years or
whenever you notice a significant drop in production on a clear
Some simple maintenance tips:
• Check to see if panels are cracked or stained?
• Check to see if leaves are on or under the panels?
• Check to see if panels are being shaded by tree growth?
• Check to see if panels are dirty?
Dirty solar PV panels can significantly reduce the amount of
energy your home system can generate. Dirt can come from dust or
soot from nearby roads or from rainy or dry weather conditions.
If you are adding a solar PV system to an existing home, be sure
to check your homeowners' insurance policy. Since you are adding to
your home, you may need to make a change to your policy. It is
advisable that you contact your homeowners' insurance company when
you're first starting the solar process.
Homeowners should ensure that equipment and workmanship are
covered under appropriate warranties. There are several warranty
components to your solar PV system including:
- Workmanship-Labor warranty provided by the installer to protect
the homeowner against defective workmanship …
- PV Panel-Product workmanship and materials, plus a minimum
performance/production warranty of 20 years …
- Racking Equipment-Check with your installer to discuss
- Changes- Notify your utility if you make major change(s) to
your solar PV system especially size or insurance.
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