Rooftop solar promises cheap, abundant energy as long as the sun is shining (and even when it’s not). In all likelihood, solar energy would be a good choice for your home or business, despite what myths you might have heard. Unfortunately, that’s exactly why utility companies are using every tool at their disposal, including perpetuating myths about solar, to discourage and stop you from going solar.
Despite the extra costs imposed by utility companies on solar consumers, going solar remains a smart choice for Nevadans. However, you need to know what tactics your utility company could use to claw back the money you’ll be saving by going solar. Once you do, you can reap the maximum value from your investment for years to come.
Why and how utility companies set rates that punish solar owners.
Utility companies rely on a set of myths about solar owners to justify hitting them with added fees. According to utilities, solar panel owners don’t pay their fair share of grid upkeep costs. To them, your “free” solar energy comes at the expense of others on the grid. Therefore, solar panel owners should face what are essentially “exit fees” to defray some of this expense.
So what do these fees look like? Check out the 4 ways utility companies try to stop you from going solar and what to do to get around them.
NV Energy’s time-of-use (TOU) billing plan can ding solar owners with surge pricing they must pay for any energy they draw from the grid. Summer TOU pricing falls on weekdays from June 1 to September 30, between the times of 1:01 p.m. to 7 p.m. During winter months, TOU pricing is in effect at all hours of the day, every day, from the months of October through May.
In Southern Nevada, solar panel owners can expect, on average, 5.8 hours of peak generation per day from their systems over the year. Though they can expect to be paid 75 cents per kilowatt-hour they contribute to the grid, they may face higher rates during peak usage times, especially if they fall outside of their solar array’s peak generation hours.
Non-bypassable charges (NBC) are charges that anyone who uses a utility must pay to contribute to its upkeep. These are typically added on top of each kilowatt used by your home or business. NV Energy’s current NBC schedule shows that solar energy users can expect to pay anywhere from $0.00126 to $0.00552 on top of every kilowatt-hour they draw.
Unfortunately, there’s no way around paying non-bypassable charges. However, it is important to check with NV Energy to see if you’re being assessed the right amount on your bill. You’ll also want to stay aware of any changes to your NBC charges to avoid surprises and to take advantage of any special offers for a lower rate.
Demand and grid-access charges
Utilities have enormous fixed costs which they pass onto consumers in the form of demand and grid-access charges. Even if you’re off the grid with solar, it’s likely your home or business makes use of the grid. It’s likely that your building has wires which were placed there by the utility and at least uses a transformer. Unfortunately, you’ll still need to pay these costs once you go solar.
Increasing minimum monthly bills
To deal with rising energy costs, utilities are increasingly passing some of this bill along to consumers. These costs take the form of monthly minimum bills which increase over time. While you will have a hard time avoiding these even after you go solar, you’ll still avoid the rising costs for energy on your total bill that other consumers will stlll need to pay.
Tactics to fight increased charges and benefit from investing in solar panels for your home and/or business
Utility companies know that more of their customers want to go solar every year, and that this trend is only set to increase in the future. As a result, you have some leverage in negotiating with your utility provider about increased charges from going solar. Some tactics you might try include the following:
- Contacting your utility company: Once you’ve decided to go solar, contact your utility company. They may have special pricing available to your home or business that can reduce your fees.
- Explore load control programs: You’ll pay more for energy during peak hours, and a load control program can help you save money during periods of high demand. This also benefits your utility company, so explore any options you have to sign up for one.
- Invest in a solar battery: A solar battery can help you store excess energy your panels produce. You can later draw on these during peak demand times or at night when your solar panels aren’t generating energy.
- Switch providers: if your utility company won’t work with you to lower your minimum charges, try switching providers for a better deal.
Fight back by going solar with Bell Solar & Electrical Systems
Knowing what extra charges you could face from your utility company can help you make the most of your solar panels. In all likelihood, the exit fees you face won’t be enough to meaningfully alter the financial sense of your investment. However, your fees can change over time, possibly to your advantage, so you’ll want to stay on top of them..
If you’re committed to embracing free, renewable energy for your home or business, contact Bell Solar today to work with one of Southern Nevada’s top-rated professional solar installers.