How to Get Started
As with any energy saving appliance, we recommend you do your math and shop carefully before making a large investment for the sole purpose of spending less on your electric bill. If your goal is to just be green, this may not apply; but if you expect your investment to pay for itself and then continue to produce financial benefits after recovering your initial investment, we recommend you proceed with a full understanding of cost and benefit.
Do an apples to apples comparison of the cost per watt of solar installed for any potential system you are considering. For example, a 7,000-watt system at $3.50 per watt would cost $24,500. If a proposed system costs a lot more or less than others, you might want to ask why. The cheapest system you can buy may not be the best system for your needs. There are many things you should consider before making such a large purchase, such as condition of your roof; local building codes or subdivision covenants; and state and federal incentives.
Franklin PUD does not maintain a list of installers, but we recommend you start with local installers if possible. While we do not offer rebates for solar systems, we do pass along net metering benefits and participate in the State’s Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery incentive Program. (See below)
Understand the Process
Understand the roles and responsibilities involved in installing and connecting solar for your home. Franklin PUD has Interconnection Standards like most utilities. This means that energy you generate with a solar energy system can slow, stop and even reverse the flow of energy through your utility meter. This net metering benefit alone falls short of providing the incentive most customers are looking for in a business plan targeting a short return on a large investment. A net metered solar system offsets retail rate energy. For example, if the average size of a solar system is 3.5 kilowatts and the system is well-oriented and functioning normally, a Franklin PUD customer could expect to see approximately 4,600 kilowatt hours generated in a year with a total value of $292 at Franklin PUD’s current energy rate of $0.0635 per kwh.
Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Incentive
Franklin PUD participates in the Washington State Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Incentive Program. However, at this time we are not approving new applications for production incentives for this program. Franklin PUD will not approve applications unless we are certain of our ability to pay the incentive.
In this program a portion of the public utility taxes Franklin PUD would otherwise pay the State is used locally to promote the development of solar energy generation in the Franklin PUD service area. This incentive pays for production of solar energy (and energy from other renewable resources such as wind), and is dependent on the Washington State legislature. The Washington State Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Incentive Program is a state program that Franklin PUD voluntarily administers at the local level.
Participating customers with utility-approved solar systems have a production meter added to their system that measures only the solar energy produced. The incentive based on the prior year’s solar energy production, measured at the production meter, is paid to the customer by check once a year when all production meters are read (typically June 30th). This incentive program will expire on June 30, 2020.
Cost and Benefit
What can you expect from your solar system? Since results may vary, we recommend you analyze for yourself using an online tool many solar installers use. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory maintains a reliable tool for estimating solar production with many variables you can plug in to ensure an accurate forecast of potential. NREL’s PVWATTS calculator can even use satellite imaging to look at your roof to help you determine the size of system that will fit on your home.
As with any potential energy saving appliance, Franklin PUD Energy Services staff is available to help you understand energy saving technologies. Please call on us.