Xcel Energy is reminding Texas customers to know and understand policies regarding rooftop solar installations before signing agreements with companies that sell solar panels to power homes and businesses.
“Customers who generate their own electricity with home solar panels generally want to stay connected to the central distribution grid for backup purposes,” said Brad Baldridge, director of Customer and Community Relations for Xcel Energy in a news release. “And some customers are looking to sell back surplus energy.”
Baldridge said it’s important for customers to contact Xcel Energy before finalizing a deal so they can understand the policies related to connecting home solar generating systems to the grid and know what they’ll be paid for surplus electricity.
Xcel Energy’s Texas rates are regulated by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and under the rules now in place, customers who wish to connect home solar systems to the local distribution grid for backup or to sell surplus energy have two options:
• The first option allows customers to generate their own power to lower monthly bills. Under this option, there is no compensation from Xcel Energy for any surplus power flowing back on the grid.
• Under the second option, Xcel Energy will install a special meter for a $20 monthly service fee that tracks the amount of surplus electricity placed back on the grid, allowing the company to compensate customers for that surplus electricity at an “avoided fuel cost rate.” This rate is based on the ever-changing cost of coal and natural gas purchased to generate electricity at area power plants. This avoided fuel cost is lower than the total retail electricity cost, or the per kilowatt-hour rate, seen on customer bills. In January, for example, the avoided fuel cost rate was 1.4 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Solar policies vary greatly by state. These policies pertain to Texas customers only. More detail can be found at xcelenergy.com/texasrooftopsolar.
Xcel Energy encourages Texas customers to contact the area engineer at (806) 378-2165 to fully understand the rules governing compensation for surplus electricity prior to making a decision to purchase a solar system, and to ensure the system they are purchasing is compatible with Xcel Energy’s electrical facilities.
This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Xcel urges customers to get information on pricing before investing in solar panels