Solar Energy FAQs
ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS
How do solar energy systems work?
Solar energy systems are made up of solar panels, which activate an electrical current flow when hit with direct sunlight. That current is controlled and regulated by an inverter, which converts it into the type of energy used by household appliances (from direct current to alternating current). The energy system also consists of an electrical panel, which distributes the power to your home; any excess electricity can be sent from the panel back into LP&L’s grid.
How much electricity can a solar energy system generate?
The amount of electricity you can generate depends on several factors:
• Weather in your area
• Landscaping/orientation of your site
• Size of your specific system
Solar installers can help answer questions and provide estimates based on your specific situation.
What happens with a solar energy system at night and on cloudy days?
Unless you opt for a battery-backed system to store excess energy, a typical grid-connected solar energy system will not collect or store energy for use at night or on cloudy days. During these times, and in other instances where you aren’t producing enough electricity, LP&L would continue to provide power to meet your needs.
What happens with a solar energy system during power outages?
For safety reasons, most grid-connected systems will shut down in the event of an outage to prevent electricity from flowing into fallen lines or lines undergoing repairs.
How long is the payback period on a solar energy system?
The payback period can vary dramatically, depending on the specific system you choose and the amount of electricity produced. We encourage all customers to do the math as it relates to your actual cost of electricity on your City of Lubbock Utilities bill and work with a credible installer to ensure you’re aware of the full costs and payback period for your particular situation.
How long do solar energy systems last?
These systems last for about 30 years and are tested through extreme weather conditions. Most manufacturers will offer 20- to 25-year warranties for panels with extended warranties available at an extra cost. Little maintenance is required but the modules may occasionally need some cleaning.
How much does a solar energy system cost?
The total cost of a solar energy system and installation varies depending on several factors: size of the system, type and quality of the components, complexity of the system, and home layout and construction. To get a more exact pricing, ask a credible installer or use an online calculator.
Are there incentives and tax credits for installing solar energy systems?
Yes. There is a federal tax credit of 30 percent through 2019, then a slow phase out of the credit by the end of 2021. Other incentives vary by state, city, utility and whether the system is purchased or leased. Be sure to consult with a financial and tax advisor on next steps or find information about your state’s programs here: https://programs.dsireusa.org/system/program/maps.
How can I know if a solar energy system will work on my house?
Always consult with a solar contractor for a more detailed analysis on what to expect. However, to begin, look at several factors: direction your home faces, condition of roof and obstructions that may block the sun during peak hours from 9a to 3p.
How do I get started with solar?
Follow these three steps:
- Be sure your home is energy efficient by getting a home energy audit. This helps reduce your overall energy usage and the size of the system needed, leading to savings.
- Make sure your roof is in good shape or get it replaced so it can last as long as the 30-year lifespan of the solar energy system.
- Research solar and solar contractors thoroughly before investing in a system and get at least three quotes before choosing one.
SOLAR ENERGY AND LP&L
For more information about LP&L and solar energy, contact LP&L at CustomerRelations@CityofLubbockUtilities.com
Does LP&L partner with any solar companies or installers?
LP&L does not partner with solar companies and installers. If a customer makes the decision to move forward with a solar energy system on their side of the meter then the City of Lubbock and LP&L work with the customer to make sure they are placed on our net metering rate.
Where do I go to get a permit/inspection for installation?
If the customer address is inside the city limits:
A customer (or customer’s selected electrician) is required to obtain a building inspection permit prior to installation of the renewable generation system. The building inspection permit may be obtained from the City of Lubbock Building Inspection Department at 1625 13th Street, Suite 106 or by calling (806) 775-2087. The customer (or customer’s selected electrician) will be required to provide a copy of the LP&L Authorization Letter to the Building Inspection Department.
Upon completion of the installation of the renewable generation system, the customer (or customer’s selected electrician) will request a final inspection from the City of Lubbock Building Inspection Department at 1625 13th Street, Suite 106 or by calling (806) 775-2087.
Upon final inspection, LP&L will install the appropriate meter and establish the net metering rate on the customer’s account.
If the customer address is outside the city limits:
Upon completion of the installation of the renewable generation system, the customer should contact City of Lubbock Utilities Customer Service at (806) 775-2509 to request the installation of the appropriate meter. After the meter has been installed, the account will be enrolled on our net meter rate.
What information does LP&L need from me if I’m going to install a solar energy system?
A customer seeking to install renewable generation at their residence or business will need to first complete an interconnection agreement. Once this has been accepted by LP&L, the customer will complete the City of Lubbock permitting process and then complete panel installation. After the inspection for the installation is complete LP&L will be notified by the city and will place the customer on the net metering rate and where needed, install a new meter.
The online form, along with instruction on the process, may be found here: https://www.cityoflubbockutilities.com/assets/uploads/docs/LPL-Interconnect%20Agreement-web-9-7-17.pdf
Will I still receive an electric bill if I have a solar energy system?
A customer that installs a solar energy system on their home will be placed on LP&L’s net metering rate which is specifically designed to allow the customer to replace normal electric consumption from the LP&L grid with electricity generated by their system. The customer will still receive a bill from City of Lubbock Utilities which includes their water, wastewater, solid waste and stormwater utility services from the City of Lubbock. The LP&L portion of their City of Lubbock Utilities bill will include a service availability charge and the amount of electricity the customer consumed from the LP&L grid above and beyond what their own system produced in a given month.
What is net metering, and how will it appear on my bill?
Net metering is a program that allows for customers to replace 100% of their consumption if their unit produces enough to cover their consumption in a given month. For electricity consumed above and beyond what a customer’s individual solar unit produces, the customer is charged a base rate that is substantially lower than the rate paid by a standard residential customer.
Here is how the base rates break down for residential customers per kilowatt hour:
Standard residential customer with electric and natural gas service:
Annual Base Rate: $0.03381
Residential customer with only electric service and no natural gas:
Annual Base Rate: $0.02921
Net Metering Customer:
Summer Base Rate: (≤1,000 kWh) $0.01292 – (≥1,000 kWh) $0.02349
Winter Base Rate: (≤1,000 kWh) $0.00397 – (≥1,000 kWh) $0.01175
For more information on LP&L’s net metering rate, you may visit our website: http://www.lpandl.com/uploads/downloads/TARIFF-10-1-18_LPL_Elec_Rate.pdf
Rate 5 (Residential Net Metering Service) will include all information on rates for solar customers.
Will LP&L buy any excess energy I produce with a solar energy system?
At this time, LP&L does not buy back excess energy from customers per the tariff rates established by the LP&L Electric Utility Board and Lubbock City Council. LP&L’s net metering rate allows customers to replace up to 100% of their energy consumption with energy produced by the unit on their home. For electricity consumed above and beyond what a customer’s individual solar unit produces, the customer is charged a base rate that is lower than the rate paid by a standard residential customer.
What happens if I produce more energy than I use?
At this time, LP&L does not buy back excess energy produced by customer’s solar unit but instead allows for customers to replace 100% of their consumption if their unit produces enough to cover their consumption in a given month. For electricity consumed above and beyond what a customer’s individual solar unit produces, the customer is charged a base rate that is lower than the rate paid by a standard residential customer.
What is the largest system allowed to be installed by a LP&L residential customer?
The LP&L Electric Rate Tariff allows for the installation of residential renewable energy systems up to but not exceeding a gross power rating of 10 kW.