Considering solar energy for your home? Before you make that investment, it’s important to know how solar energy will work for you – from the purchasing process to its effect on your energy bills. The energy experts at West Florida Electric Cooperative (WFEC) are available at 800-342-7400 to help. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about residential solar installations.
Be sure to calculate your return on investment before you buy. Before purchasing a solar system, contact West Florida Electric Cooperative for assistance in calculating your potential savings. Solar contractors often use regional or national electric rates when calculating your potential savings, but our energy experts can provide you with WFEC's solar rate information to help you make an informed decision.
West Florida Electric Cooperative offers an energy credit of 5.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for solar installations smaller than 25 kW when purchasing energy that members generate.
Consider intermittency and infrastructure. Solar energy can only be generated when weather conditions permit. At night and on cloudy days, for example, solar panels cannot produce electricity. Solar panels are also not reliable during peak periods (such as cold winter mornings before the sun comes up) when most people require the greatest amount of power.
Members who generate only a portion of their own energy needs with solar panels will still need to purchase energy from West Florida Electric Cooperative.
Because of solar’s limitations, WFEC must rely on other generating sources, such as natural gas, coal, nuclear and hydro, to meet energy demands 24/7/365 regardless of whether a member with solar or any other type of member-owned generation system uses it or not.
Beginning August 1, 2021 WFEC members who have solar interconnections will be charged $3.02 per kW of their overall system capacity. For instance, a member with a 5kW rated system will be charged $15.10 monthly. This is a pass-through charge from PowerSouth, the cooperative's wholesale power provider, to the member for costs associated with having generation capacity available for the member regardless of use. Detailed information will be forthcoming on this fixed cost charge that was filed with the Florida Public Service Commission in July of this year.
Understanding WFEC's base charge (fixed costs). Because each member has access to the infrastructure that delivers electricity (poles, wires, meters, transformers, etc.) and must rely on it at least some of the time, each member must pay their fair share of these “fixed costs.” Members cover part of this cost through a basic service charge of $24.95 per month. This fee is required of all residential members who receive service from West Florida Electric Cooperative, whether or not they purchase energy.
It’s similar to owning a car. Your fixed costs – monthly payment and insurance – are the same each month, regardless of how much you drive the car. Your variable costs – gas and maintenance – vary based on usage. Your power bill works in the same way. The fixed costs are mostly recovered through the basic service charge, and your variable costs change depending on how much electricity you use each month.
Sign an interconnection agreement. This process of setting up solar panels and connecting to the electric grid requires certain metering equipment to be installed. Members must also sign an interconnection agreement – legal documentation between West Florida Electric Cooperative and the member.
Interested parties must complete West Florida Electric Cooperative’s interconnection agreement and application, submitting a $135 application fee. Our staff can assist you with this process.
Let us help you. If your primary goal is to save money, we can help make sure you’re purchasing solar that is right for your budget and energy needs. Contact us at 800-342-7400.