RnR Energy Ltd

Endless Energy Resources

Before Connecting to the "Grid"

What should you know about permits? 

You or your renewable energy provider may need to submit your plans. You’ll need approval before you begin installing your system. You will probably need to obtain permits from your city or county building department. These include a building permit, an electrical permit, or both. Typically, we will take care of this, rolling the price of the permits into the overall system price. However, in some cases, we may not know how much time or money will be involved in “pulling” a permit. If so, this task may be priced on a time-and-materials basis, particularly if additional drawings or calculations must be provided to the permitting agency. Code requirements for renewable energy systems vary somewhat from one jurisdiction to the next. If you are one of the first people in your community to install a grid-connected system, your local building department may not have experience in approving one of these systems.

What should you know about insurance? 

For grid-connected systems, your electric utility will require that you enter into an interconnection agreement. Usually, these agreements set forth the minimum insurance requirements to keep in force. If you are buying a renewable energy system for your home, your standard homeowner’s insurance policy is usually adequate to meet the utility’s requirements.

How do you get an interconnection agreement?  Connecting your system to the utility grid will require an interconnection agreement and a purchase and sale agreement. Public utility commission regulations require utilities to supply you with an interconnection agreement. Some utilities have developed simplified, standardized interconnection agreements for small-scale systems. The interconnection agreement specifies the terms and conditions under which your system will be connectedto the utility grid. These include your obligation to obtain permits and insurance, maintain the system in good working order, and operate it safely. The purchase and sale agreement specifies the metering arrangements, the payment for any excess generation, and any other related issues. The language in these contracts should be simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. If you are unclear about your obligations under these agreements, contact the utility or your electrical service provider for clarification. The most important of these standards focuses on inverters. Traditionally, inverters simply converted the DC electricity generated by renewable energy to the AC electricity we use in our homes. More recently, inverters have evolved into remarkably sophisticated devices to manage and condition power. Many new inverters contain all the protective relays, disconnects, and other components necessary to meet the most stringent national standards. Two of these standards are particularly relevant:You don’t need to fully understand these standards, but your renewable energy provider and utility should. It is your obligation to make sure that your renewable energy provider uses equipment that complies with the relevant standards, however, so be sure to discuss this issue.

How do you get a net metering agreement? Some utilities offer customers with renewable energy systems the option to net meter the excess power generated by the system. This means that when the system generates more power than the household can use, the utility pays the full retail price for this power in an even swap as the electric meter spins backward, and your power goes into the grid. Net metering allows eligible customers with systems to connect to the grid with their existing single meter. Your provider will install a utility meter that can measure the flow of energy in either direction. The meter spins forward when electricity is flowing from the utility into the building and spins backward when power is flowing from the building to the utility. For example, customers are billed monthly for the “net” energy consumed. If the customer’s net consumption is negative in any month (i.e., the system produces more energy than the customer uses), the balance is credited to subsequent months. Once a year, on the anniversary of the effective date of the interconnection agreement, the utility pays the customer for any negative balance at its wholesale or “avoided cost” for energy. Net metering allows customers to get more value from the energy they generate. Be sure to ask your utility about its policy regarding net metering. If your utility does not offer net metering, the utility will not pay you for your excess electricity. This may be a factor in how you optimize the system size, because you may want to limit generating excess electricity.

What should you know about utility and inspection sign-off? After your new system is installed, it must be inspected and “signed off” by the local permitting agency (usually a building or electrical inspector) and most likely by the electric utility with which you entered into an interconnection agreement.

What should you know about warranties?

Warranties are key to ensuring that your system will be repaired if something should malfunction during the warranty period. This warranty should cover all parts and labor, including the cost of removing any defective component, shipping it to the manufacturer, and reinstalling the component after it is repaired or replaced.