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All About Solar – Which States, Best Savings, and More

Renewable energy seems to be a major buzz word these days – especially solar energy. Surprisingly, the United States is divided on renewable energy. Some states are solar enthusiasts while other states are opponents of “going green.”

The Secret to Savings
Residential solar systems have dropped dramatically in price over the past decade, putting costs at competitive rates with residential power prices for the first time ever. Not to mention, the government offers a variety of tax credits for those who install solar generation systems.

But not everyone is delighted by this idea. Utilities have both embraced and rejected putting power in the hands of the people, and state governments are divided on whether its citizens are worthy of their own solar systems.

The secret recipe for home solar success depends on something called a “power purchase agreement,” or PPA. As stated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a PPA is “a financial arrangement in which a third-party developer owns, operates, and maintains the photovoltaic (PV) system, and a host customer agrees to site the system on its roof or elsewhere on its property and purchases the system’s electric output from the solar services provider for a predetermined period.”

This financial trick allows households, utilities, and solar manufacturers to work together to optimize long-term power production and keep heavy cost burdens off any one entity. Currently, there’s an almost 50-50 split on power purchase agreement regulations across the nation: If you’re looking to raise the roof on your own solar system, it’s best to head west or to New England. While some states still remain ambiguous on PPA support, six states are openly opposed to third-party solar PPAs including: Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and North Carolina.

Advocates and Critics on the Utility Level
Pennsylvania-based PPL has embraced home-based solar generation and provides its customers with a guide to determine whether local power could be a cost-effective move for them. PPL can connect both wind and solar systems to its power grid, allowing the utility to pump power back into its system on windy days, creating a potential win-win for buyer and seller. For its part, PPL can then snag state-required renewable-energy credits via its purchases.

New Jersey’s PSE&G has been at the forefront of solar financing, which lends money to customers to cover up to 60% of the total cost. Individuals can pay back the loan over 10 years with cash at 6.5% interest or renewable-energy credits, and PSE&G is pre-approved by regulators to recover all costs for its project.

NRG Energy goes one step further and has developed its own rooftop solar unit to sell directly to businesses. The utility also offers PPAs for both businesses and households and has more than 2,000 MW of solar set to develop, with projects ranging from its own solar farms to hospital rooftop systems.

But other utilities aren’t so sunny on solar. Pinnacle West Capital’s Arizona Public Service and Colorado-based Xcel Energy are allegedly asking regulators to cut back on incentives or increase charges on rooftop solar users, and a recent viral video accuses Xcel of actively blocking Boulder’s campaign for local power.

Better Savings and Support from Electricity Suppliers
As more utilities foster solar energy, retail electricity suppliers (REPs) push the notion even further by offering a variety of renewable options to homeowners and business. A quick punch-list  of REPs with renewable options listed on ElectricityRates.com for those interested:

Pennsylvania:
Bounce Energy
Con Edison Solutions
Constellation
Oasis Energy
YEP Energy

Texas:
Bounce Energy
TriEagle

New York:
Bounce Energy
Con Edison Solutions

Connecticut:
Con Edison Solutions

Illinois:
Constellation

Maryland:
Oasis Energy

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