Are you considering installing solar panels or a wind turbine to generate electricity? Whether you want to reduce your utility bill or add more environmentally sensitive energy to the mix, here's some helpful information.
If you are operating or are considering installing generating equipment, you should first become familiar with all local, state and federal requirements concerning installation, operation and maintenance of such equipment. As with all electrical equipment, safety should come first.
Equipment that operates (or is capable of operating) while electrically connected to (or parallel to) the OPPD system must meet stringent OPPD requirements, including an OPPD application and review process, and execution of written operating agreements. These steps are critical to help ensure your safety and the safety of OPPD employees.
Economics of Customer Generation
The first step is to calculate how much electricity you use, on average by month during a year. How to Read Your Bill shows where to find the kilowatt-hours used on your OPPD bill statements. Once you decide how much of that energy you wish to generate yourself, you can determine the size of equipment to purchase.
No generating equipment puts out its maximum capacity constantly. Compared to its maximum capacity, the percentage that the equipment actually generates over time is called its capacity factor.
The capacity factor for solar panels is approximately 12 to 18 percent, and is only available during daylight hours. Since wind is intermittent, it also produces power only part of the day. OPPD's wind turbine in Valley has about a 23 percent capacity factor.
Another thing to consider is the cost of money used to buy your generating equipment. If you take out a loan, the cost of money is the interest paid to the lender, discounted for present value. If you withdraw money from a bank account, the cost of money is the amount of interest, dividends and other gains the money would have earned.
Steps to Generating Power
1. Research. Research your equipment options, economics, and any codes or regulatory requirements. Review OPPD's Distributed Generation Manual for OPPD requirements and OPPD's distributed generation application. Do not purchase generation equipment at this stage – some generating equipment does not meet OPPD requirements and will not be approved for operation on the OPPD system.
2. Permits and Approvals. Obtain necessary permits and approvals. Complete and submit an OPPD distributed generation application. A shortened one-page DG application may be used to apply for interconnecting your 10kW or less generating system with single-phase OPPD service.OPPD will review the application and your proposed equipment. Once approved, you can move forward with construction.
3. Purchase equipment and install. Be sure to review the Distributed Generation Manual for OPPD requirements.
4. Final inspection. OPPD requires a final inspection and "witness test" of the installation. Other entities may require inspections, as well. After passing the inspections, you can begin generating power in parallel with the OPPD system.
You may qualify for Rate 483 - Net Metering Service Rider.
If you have questions regarding customer generation, call your Electric Service Designer or Account Executive.