Selling Solar Power to Utility Companies
How good can it be that you could actually sell the excess solar power you generate to a utility company? It’s
not a dream, it’s reality. Many homeowners, as well as businesses, are selling excess power to utilities.
In many states, homeowners who produce solar energy can enter into special agreements with their utility
companies, which allow them to sell off excess power.
Installations that allow for solar power to be sold to a utility are known as grid-tie systems. It is one of the
indirect incentives for homeowners considering alternative power sources, especially solar energy.
How it works
Basically, to sell solar power back to a utility, you need to install your solar electric system in a grid-tie or tie-grid arrangement. After direct
current is converted to alternating current by inverters, it is run through an alternating panel that feeds into
the utility grid. Your meter will automatically start to run backwards (net-metering) when there’s excess power in
your solar array than your home can take at that particular time.
A grid-tie system notably comprises of a DC breaker box, and a grid disconnect, components not usually present
in ordinary solar electric systems. Also, grid-tie systems do not include storage batteries because the grid acts
as the ‘storage’ for excess power.
Most home solar projects designed as grid-tie systems are principally ‘net-zero’ systems. In a net-zero system,
the solar provider’s meter accrues a credit with the utility when it reads backwards. More often, backward meter
reading happens at peak times (day time) when there’s maximum production and minimal usage. The gained credit will
then be used up at night when there are heavier power loads.
Many solar producing homes build a large credit on their meters during the long summer months, which they can
use during winter when solar production is low. At the end of the year, the utility company will pay the homeowner
if he has credit on his meter - meaning he generated surplus energy and used less overall.
The benefits of selling solar power to utilities are pretty obvious. Since you’re likely to have a credit at the
end of the year, it means that you’ll reap your return on investment on your solar system faster than you would
have if you were not selling any power. Besides, you will not have to worry about paying bills anymore.
In any case, most homeowners who install solar
power systems are also very vigilant with their power usage, so they’re likely to consume much little than
they produce. It is also a good way to take charge of your power needs while helping to protect the
How do you start?
Well, the first thing you will need is to assess the potential of a solar electric system at your area. There’s
a series of steps you must take to do this. When this is properly done, you should have estimates for the total
solar energy you can produce with a particular system. Your budget will also play an important role in determining
what system you can install.
Depending on your state laws, you’ll need to find out if net-metering is offered by your utility. You will then
enter into agreement with the utility, which will clearly stipulate the terms of your power selling arrangement.
You may have to get certain permits, posses a homeowner’s insurance policy and fulfil some connection
specifications. You should also brace for a lengthy legal process involved in finalizing your solar power selling