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 specific OPPD requirements, including an OPPD distributed generation interconnection application, system installation 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. Implement energy efficiency measures to reduce energy consumption to minimize size requirements of distributed generation system. Once you decide how much of that energy you wish to generate yourself, you can determine the size of equipment to purchase.
Review your customer generation capabilities with skilled professionals who are knowledgeable in distributed generation systems. Keep in mind that 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.
First-year operation capacity factors for solar panels range from 12 to 20 percent depending on geography and system configuration. Over time, solar installation output is reduced due to degradation in module quality at a rate of approximately 0.5 percent per year. In comparison, capacity factors for OPPD wind facilities range from 34 to 52 percent.
Research the upfront and ongoing maintenance costs of your system. Understanding your costs will help determine if customer generation is economical for you. Identifying potential incentives and tax credits available through the Nebraska Energy Office can also help reduce the cost of your system.
Whatever generating source you choose, do your homework. Contact your OPPD Electric Service Designer or Account Executive at the outset of your process. Above all, make safety your top priority when considering any type of system that will be interconnected to the power grid.
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. Contact your OPPD Electric Service Designer or Account Executive. If you do not know your OPPD contact please call 402-636-3521. Discuss the proposed generation installation and application process to ensure all submittal and technical requirements are met. Early discussions with OPPD can avoid misunderstandings and delays in processing of the ‘Approval to Construct’ application.
3. 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.
4. Purchase equipment and install. Be sure to review the Distributed Generation Manual for OPPD requirements.
5. Final inspection. OPPD requires a final inspection and "witness test" of the installation. Other entities may require inspections, as well. After passing the inspections and receiving final approval from OPPD, you can begin generating power in parallel with the OPPD system. Generating power before final approval from OPPD may result in operational challenges and billing errors.
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.