volume 67 - issue 2 - February 2017
Considering solar? Know what to expect
Are you interested in investing in renewable energy for your home but are unsure of the process?
A growing number of homeowners in SMECO's service territory have been investing in solar panels for their homes. While there are numerous installers working in Southern Maryland, SMECO has standard procedures that are followed so our customer-members know what to expect.
The first step will be deciding if solar is right for you. SMECO has software, WattPlan, that can help. Visit smeco.wattplan.com and enter your address. WattPlan will estimate the potential for a rooftop solar array. You will get an estimate of the electricity you can generate and how much you might save each year on your electric bill. The figures shown are estimates only and will not constitute a guarantee of savings on your electric bill.
No matter what type of renewable generation you are considering, the application process is the same. Interested homeowners will complete the application online using SMECO's tool, PowerClerk. You can access PowerClerk at smecointerconnection.powerclerk.com/Account/Login. (Applicants will need a valid email address to use this tool.)
Most SMECO customers opt to use a solar installation company, and that contractor will normally complete most of the paperwork and provide the utility with most of the required information.
The majority of customers in SMECO's service area will qualify for a level 1 or level 2 installation.
• Level 1—solar installation of 10.0 kilowatts (kW) or less
• Level 2—solar installation greater than 10.0 kW
Below is an outline of the steps that SMECO and the customer take to complete the process.
1. The customer or solar installer submits an interconnection application to SMECO.
2. SMECO will email you and your solar installer when we receive the application. This email will include information regarding the status of your application and whether or not it is complete. You or your solar installer may be required to provide additional information if the application is incomplete.
3. After SMECO receives the complete application package, a SMECO engineer will review your system design to determine if it can be safely and reliably interconnected to SMECO's electric system.
4. SMECO will email you and your solar installer advising you of "conditional approval" or the need for further information. No construction of a solar installation should begin until you have received the conditional approval.
- If you receive conditional approval, a Certificate of Completion will be available under your user profile. You and your solar installer should review it and you must sign it electronically. (For level 2 installations, a Standard Agreement will also be available for review and signature.)
- If additional engineering related issues need to be addressed, you will be notified in the email. In some cases an electrical upgrade may be required.
5. You or your solar installer must submit the signed Certificate of Completion electronically and upload a copy of the county approved inspection.
- For level 2 solar installations, you must also submit the signed Standard Agreement electronically.
6. Customers: Follow up with your solar installer to make sure all the required documentation has been submitted.
7. Once all of the required documentation is received, SMECO will review it and conduct a site inspection if it is determined that one is necessary.
8. SMECO will install a new smart meter. (This usually takes about a week once all documentation has been submitted and approved. If it has taken longer than a week, call SMECO to make sure all documentation has been submitted.)
SMECO will install a smart meter which is capable of measuring the amount of energy the customer purchases from SMECO (when the system is not producing enough to meet the customer’s need) and the amount of energy the customer sells to SMECO (when the system is producing more than enough to meet the customer’s need). Customers are billed for the difference—purchases minus sales. SMECO’s meter doesn't measure how much energy you produced and used during the month. SMECO does not charge for exchanging the standard residential meter for a smart meter.
9. SMECO will notify you by email of final approval. At that time, the final approved documentation will be available under your user profile. Please retain the final approved documents for your records. The Maryland Public Service Commission may require the documentation if you decide to certify the generation facility production capability with the state.
10. Customers should contact the solar installer to have the solar system activated.
If you have questions at any time, contact SMECO at 1-888-440-3311.