The Arizona solar industry has had a big summer. Many people heard through the grapevine that Net Metering was going away and that they better act fast or miss out. With no clear source of information, deadlines that past with little news, and the confidentiality surrounding the new rate, many people don’t really understand what changed and what it means for homeowners interested in taking charge of their own energy.
Let’s clear up some of the confusion. What specifically changed is the rate that APS offers to solar customers and the electric plans that solar customers can choose from. When you want to produce some of your own power but stay connected to the grid, you need a connection agreement. For as long as many of us have been around the solar industry, APS has offered that connection agreement based on Net Metering. Net Metering means that any power you produce and share with your electric company will be available to you for use anytime later that year. It doesn’t matter when you make the power or when you use it. You just share power back and forth with your electric provider, and they figure out the rest in the background.
Net Metering made solar very straight-forward, but it couldn’t last forever. Net Metering didn’t provide much incentive to think about how you use power and how to match that to when you produce it. Continued indefinitely, Net Metering would have led to large disparities between when power is made and when it is needed on the grid, which could cause stability and price problems for everyone on the grid. New agreements are needed now that solar has begun to have a real presence on the grid. The change is incentivizing people to pay more attention to their own power usage habits and build systems to match their lifestyle.
We can match your power production to your usage in many ways. For example, in Phoenix, since air conditioning is our biggest power consumer, everyone tends to use the most power late in the afternoons and late in the summer. By pointing your panels west, we can maximize their production at those times. Another common way to match production with usage needs is through batteries. We’ve been using batteries to store solar energy for use for years, but new batteries from companies like LG, Tabuchi, and Tesla have recently come onto the US market that have increased their appeal substantially. Using batteries, we can ensure that your solar energy gets delivered to you when it helps lower your bill the most. These battery systems also provide backup power if the grid ever goes down, giving you extra insurance that you can keep the lights on and the fridge cold indefinitely in an emergency.
At SouthFace Solar, we knew these changes were coming and we prepared extensively. We’ve developed new software in house to analyze your energy usage. We build a model of your actual usage based on however much detail you want to share, then we can simulate different equipment and compare rate plans to find the best combination that fits your goals and your budget. We can also work with many of the smart-home energy tools like wifi thermostats and energy analyzers to get into the details of where your energy is going and how you can take control. In many cases, we can lower your bill without sacrificing comfort or convenience by finding you a better rate or by showing you where energy is being wasted.
These new tools have allowed us to continue offering fantastic service to our APS customers since the change. Our new tools have also enabled us to help SRP customers. SRP changed their solar rates a few years ago. At the time, the rates SRP chose to offer to solar customers made it difficult to predict savings. We designed our software to be flexible enough to work with any rate structure. With flexible software, smarter equipment, and better batteries, we can offer you substantial savings on your electric bill no matter who your provider is. Contact us today to get your free analysis and design scheduled to see how easily you can have the savings and reliability of solar power.