Bob Pierce answers questions about energy efficiency, consumer products, and cooperative governance. He is Clearwater Power’s Chief Operating Officer and welcomes your questions on our Ask Bob page.
Q: I saw an ad on an online video service talking about how easy it is to put solar panels on my roof and have my utility pay for it. It sounded too good to be true. What is the real story?
A: Clearwater Power has a Net Metering Program for members who want to purchase renewable generation like solar or wind power at their own expense and hook it up to their electrical system to reduce energy they buy from the utility. All the details are available on our website on our Net Metering page.
The main thing you need to know is that CPC doesn’t pay for the solar equipment, and we don’t pay you cash for the energy it generates. If you participate in our program, we will change your meter and install one that allows you to turn the meter backwards when you generate more than your home needs. At night or anytime your usage is greater than the generation, the meter will spin forward. At the end of the month, you are billed to the meter reading which is the net of generation and load.
There is a nameplate capacity limit of 25 kW for residential and small commercial accounts. Most people don’t install batteries because this program essentially allows you to use our electric grid as your battery. If a solar vendor is giving you the hard sell, I would recommend a couple of things:
- Get more than one bid so you know the price is competitive.
- Use the PVWatts Calculator to see exactly how much generation you can expect your solar panels to generate at your location for each month of the year. (Look for the link on our website.)
- Check independent reviews and BBB records for your installer.
- Read the information on the CPC page linked above.
- Call us at (208)743-1501 if you have additional questions