Distributed generation (DG) is the generation of electric power from a small energy source and is an alternative to the large scale traditional electric power generating plants. The use of a wind turbine or solar panels to generate energy on site at the member’s premises is an example of DG. Members generally use this energy to meet their electric power needs, but excess power may be sold back to San Bernard EC as a distributed generation credit (DG credit). Members who do sell back excess power will see it on their bill as a Distributed Generation Credit, and the rate per kWh for that month will appear to the side of it. SBEC does not sell solar nor are we affiliated with any solar installers. If you have a general question about DG systems, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Distributed Generation/Solar Interconnection Process
Members interested in interconnecting DG to San Bernard EC’s system should:
Consult with a qualified DG developer, installer or electrical consultant to determine technical requirements and potential costs.
Call 1-800-364-3171 or email us at email@example.com and let us know you are considering a DG system.
Read and understand the DG portion of the tariff to ensure that all provisions will be followed. Please make note of the insurance requirements.
Complete the DG Application and return it to San Bernard EC with the application fee and a drawing of the DG system.
Schedule a time for a San Bernard EC representative to visit the proposed DG facility.
Complete the DG Interconnection Agreement and return it to San Bernard EC along with any necessary insurance documents.
Give San Bernard EC the opportunity to witness or verify the testing of the DG facility.
If system testing is approved and all conditions of the interconnection agreement are satisfied, the DG facility is eligible to operate in parallel with the electric distribution facility of San Bernard EC.
San Bernard EC allows the interconnection of DG facilities to the electric distribution system of San Bernard EC under certain conditions. The DG Tariff of San Bernard EC currently allows interconnection of DG facilities up to 10 megawatts (MW) in size. The DG Tariff has a complete list of rules regarding interconnection of a DG system to the San Bernard EC electric distribution system. Systems above 700 kW also require the review and approval of San Bernard EC's wholesale power provider, South Texas Electric Cooperative.
If a member’s DG system is interconnected with the facilities of San Bernard EC, the member is required to disclose to San Bernard EC the presence of the DG system. Non-disclosure of an interconnection of a DG system could result in harm to San Bernard EC personnel and discontinuance of service to the member. Once San Bernard EC is made aware of the distributed generation system, we will have to make changes in our metering and billing systems so that the member gets credit for kWh's that are pushed back onto the grid by their DG system.
Nonrefundable Application Fees & Additional Engineering Fees:
|Nonrefundable Application Fee||Additional Engineering Fees|
Systems < 5 kW or smaller = $250
Systems 5 kW or smaller = none
Systems 6 kW to 50 kW = $250
Systems 6 kW to 50 kW = $750
Systems 51 kW to 1 MW = $700
Systems 51 kW to 1 MW = $1000
Systems 1 MW to 10 MW = $1,200
Systems 1 MW to 10 MW = $2000 Minimum
Possible Additional Charges
If an interconnection study is required, the member will be required to compensate San Bernard EC for the cost of the study.
If system improvements or lines extensions are required, the member will be required to pay the cost of those.
If the system is larger than 700 kW, South Texas Electric Cooperative will also require a separate application and fee for an interconnection study.
Interconnection is a one-time fee.
Installing your own distributed generation facility is an individual decision for each member. San Bernard EC’s role is to help educate the member on installation guidelines and safety requirements, as well as accurately metering the facility. The member has the responsibility of determining whether the facility will generate enough electricity to offset the cost of equipment and installation. A few things that can impact the payback are: realistic estimated production, location, AC wattage output of the system, your overall energy usage, and your expectations of the system.
If a member generates more electricity than they consume and their system is 700kW or less, they are credited for each kWh pushed back onto the grid at the avoided wholesale cost, or the cost San Bernard EC would have incurred had we been required to purchase the energy from a wholesale power supplier. Members will see that on their monthly bill as a Distributed Generation Credit.
The avoided wholesale power cost is calculated by dividing the prior 12 months’ total wholesale power purchase cost (excluding demand costs, transmission costs, ERCOT and related distribution costs) by the 12 months’ total kWh’s purchased.
If your system is larger than 700 kW, the member will need to contact South Texas Electric Cooperative about purchasing excess energy.
How does solar work?
- Solar panels absorb the sun’s rays and converts it into direct current (DC) power.
- To convert the DC electricity supplied by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) power, an inverter is utilized. Your house runs on AC electricity.
- The energy created by your solar panel generation system will be used by your home.
- Any energy that is produced and not consumed at the time of production may flow back onto SBEC’s grid or may be stored in a battery for future use, if storage is installed with your system.
What do I look for in a reputable solar company?
In the old days, a "snake oil salesman" was a common expression used to describe someone who sells or promotes some valueless or fraudulent cure, remedy, or solution. Unfortunately, these days that tactic is still being used and the snake oil is simply replaced with the latest trend.
Solar energy is booming as many homeowners turn to harnessing the sun’s rays to produce their own energy.
But with the increasing popularity of solar power, some businesses are taking advantage of the surge in consumer interest. While many solar companies are genuine and truly want to help consumers with a successful solar installation, there are bad actors to watch out for.
You’ve likely heard a story or two about solar vendors who promised rooftop panels that would generate enough electricity to power an entire home or to where you would not have an electric bill. Then, after the homeowner has paid thousands of dollars for the installation, the claims are false and the vendor is nowhere to be found. Sadly, this story has been the reality for many consumers.
If you’re interested in solar panels for your home, consider these tips before installation to avoid getting swindled:
1. Talk to an energy adviser about obtaining a home energy audit from San Bernard Electric Cooperative first. We want you to feel confident about any decisions you make about your home energy use, especially decisions about generating energy at home.
2. Collect quotes from at least three solar companies to ensure you’re getting a competitive deal. Ask friends, family, and neighbors that have solar who they recommend. Make sure your solar sales representative does a site visit before quoting your installation.
3. As with any major purchase, research is key, so thoroughly read customer reviews for each of the solar vendors and check that they’re listed on the website of the Texas Solar Energy Society, txses.org. All the certifications and experience in the world won’t matter as much if the company doesn’t treat its customers well. Search for customer reviews on websites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. If you don’t find any, or only find a few, contact the company and ask for references.
4. If you speak to a solar vendor and they use high-pressure tactics—like an offer that’s only good for 24 hours—run! Any reputable solar company will recognize that you need time to review a proposal and consider your decision.
5. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So, if a solar company is making promises that sound unachievable and outlandish, they probably are.
6. Finally, when it’s time to review and sign a solar contract, make sure the language is clear and easy to understand. Ensure any verbal promises are included in the contract.
Remember, if you have any questions, you can always count on your electric co-op for advice. Going solar is a major decision that can cost tens of thousands of dollars, so do your homework first.
Are there any added monthly fees for going solar?
Currently, there are no extra monthly charges for having solar. You will have an initial application fee of $250. Additional fees may be applied depending on system size.
Does the meter need to be changed? And is there a cost?
No, however SBEC will need to perform a final inspection of your installation to ensure the safety of the public and our employees. Then, the meter is programed to receive excess solar production. The cost of this visit is part of the initial application fee of $250.
Will we still receive a bill from SBEC?
Yes, you will receive a billing statement each month with the applicable charges. The amount you may owe is based on your solar system output and your energy consumption.
What about solar production during the winter months?
It is important to consider how shorter days and colder weather may affect solar power generation and electricity costs. With fewer hours of direct sunlight shining on your solar panels, the causes may seem clear. But one of the main concerns is that your home's heater works hardest at night, when the temperature is at its lowest. This is especially true if you heat your home with electricity. The value of your solar installation is greatest when you consume the power it generates. Therefore, you should move your consumption to the times when your solar panels are operating to have the biggest influence on your power expenditure. It is crucial to realize that the shorter days and other probable winter weather effects will probably lead to decreased solar production for the majority of your household systems. Higher-than-expected energy costs may be the outcome when solar systems are idle at night and when there are heavy heating loads.
Will solar panels provide power during an outage?
They will not unless you have also installed a transfer switch and battery storage system. Solar systems are not typically designed to work without utility source power.
Should I add battery storage?
Storing your overproduction of energy is an option. Research battery storage options that will suit the amount of solar energy you produce. Just remember, a battery only stores so much energy, then it will need recharging. It may not run your whole house or for very long, depending on what you have on and how much battery storage you have installed. Battery storage can provide a lot of power in a short time or less power over a long time.
Battery Storage transfer switch must be inspected and approved by SBEC.
Can I have one solar installation and have the generation applied to several meters?
No, each meter would have to have its own solar panels to offset the usage on that meter.
Tips To Avoid Solar Scams
With the growing popularity of residential solar, solar scams are becoming more common in cities across the country. To avoid becoming a victim of one of these scams, there are a few tips to follow.
If It Sounds Too Good To Be True…
Some solar companies feel the need to make outlandish claims or unkeepable promises in order to make the sale. For instances, one such claim is totally eliminating your monthly electricity bill. The truth is, for most homeowners in central and Southeast Texas, an average-sized solar panel system won’t achieve this goal. While it could be technically possible, you must ensure you have information you can trust to understand all the factors of making it happen.
Watch Out For The Upsell
Many solar sales companies work on commission. That means they’re more interested in selling you their most expensive items or even more products than you actually need. A solar company with noncommissioned representatives is more likely to listen to your needs and expectations, and they’ll work with you to find a solar panel system that fits comfortably into your budget.
Always Work With A Local, Reputable Company
Choosing a reputable, local company to install your system is the biggest factor in avoiding solar scams. Pick a familiar company with several years of experience and reviews from other homeowners who have installed systems with them. You can check out reviews for local companies on online review sites and the company’s website to ensure that other customers have had a good experience when working with them.
SBEC is NOT against solar generation, but we ARE against our members being deceived. BEFORE you sign a contract to install solar generation, PLEASE call us and look into getting at least THREE quotes from different installers. Your best interests are our concern, and many installers are only concerned with making a sale and profit - not about you.