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Solar Energy

Solar Types

Solar Thermal

The principle behind solar thermal technologies is the same one often used to brew tea in a jar outside on a hot summer day. The sun's energy radiates to the earth and is captured in a jar of water. The water is warmed by this captured energy, and brews the tea.

In the same manner, solar thermal energy can be used to heat water for household use.

A solar water heating system requires collectors ("the jar") to absorb the sun's energy and a storage system to hold the energy until it is needed. The collectors are large, flat panels that are most frequently mounted on a roof. The storage systems look and act like conventional water heaters. Pumps are also part of the system and are used to circulate the heated water.

A residential solar water heating system is usually designed to meet 50 to 80 percent of a home's water heating requirements. Water heating typically accounts for about 14 to 25 percent of the average home's utility bill.

Solar Electric

Solar electric is energy converted directly into electricity.

This conversion is done through solar cells, also known as photovoltaic or PV cells. PV modules are made up of individual PV cells and are joined together to form a PV array which is used to generate electricity. The PV array is installed on a roof or in a sunny location to maximize the sun's rays. When the sun shines on the array, the sun's energy is converted into electric current that can be used to operate appliances and other household devices.

Once installed, a photovoltaic system requires little maintenance and can produce power for more than 20 years.

FAQs

Does Alabama Power have net metering?

If a customer is interconnected in parallel with Alabama Power and is on Rate PAE, we pay the customer for energy they send to us according to Rate PAE, and the customer will continue to pay us for energy delivered to them according to their existing rate.

Will my meter run backwards if I export power to Alabama Power's grid?

Electronic meters do not run backwards. If a customer is interconnected in parallel with Alabama Power according to our requirements, the customer's meter will be re-programmed to accept energy delivered from and delivered to us.

Will Alabama Power store energy for me?

No, Rate PAE customers are paid for energy delivered according to Rate PAE based on the time it is delivered, and those customers pay us for energy delivered to them according to their existing rate. Energy generated by the customer is not stored for the customer.

Will Alabama Power buy my excess power?

If a customer is on Rate PAE, we will pay them for energy delivered according to Rate PAE.

What will Alabama Power pay me for excess power?

We pay Rate PAE customers for energy they deliver based on the Rate PAE schedule that is in effect at the time the energy is delivered. Rate PAE is updated annually.

Does Alabama Power sell solar panels?

No, at this time we do not sell solar panels.

Does Alabama Power provide incentives for solar?

No, at this time we do not pay customers an incentive to install solar panels. Federal incentives are available through 2016, and state incentives may be available.

Does Alabama Power install panels?

No, at this time we do not install solar panels.

Do I have to buy a new meter if I put power on the grid?

All customers who export power to Alabama Power must receive written permission from us to operate in parallel with our grid. That written permission is granted through a Rate PAE contract or, for customers who choose to not be on Rate PAE, through an interconnection agreement. We will change out or re-program customers' meters to accept power delivered from and power delivered to us after the customer has a Rate PAE contract or an Interconnection Agreement.

Is there a limit to how many panels I can install?

Rate PAE is only available for installations that have a nameplate capacity of 100 kW or less. If a customer's installation is greater than 100 kW, there are other options available for them to sell their power.

Does Alabama Power recommend installers?

We do not recommend installers. We will provide customers with a website that lists installers that meet NABCEP standards.

How do I know how many panels to install?

Most homes have an electrical requirement for no more than 5-10 kW. Customers should review the equipment in place at their home to determine their maximum electrical demand.

What if I don't think I will ever overcome my load and put power on to the grid?

All customers who export power to Alabama Power must receive written permission from us to operate in parallel with our grid. That written permission is granted through a Rate PAE contract or, for customers who choose to not be on Rate PAE, through an interconnection agreement. If the generator is connected in parallel with us, written permission is required.

Is there an insurance requirement for Rate PAE?

Customers with an electric generating facility that has a nameplate capacity of more than 25 kW are required to furnish to us evidence of liability insurance, or equivalent security. Details are available in the Special Rules Governing Application of Rate PAE.

What should I expect to spend for solar photovoltaic (PV) system?

The costs for a 5 kW system range from $3.5/W to $5 W or approximately $18,000 - $25,000. The installed cost varies because of a number of factors such as whether the system is to be ground-mounted or roof-mounted and the amount of site preparation required.

What time period should I expect to recoup my initial investment in a solar photovoltaic (PV) system?

Assuming that you take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit, you should recoup your investment in approximately 10 - 20 years.

What should I expect to spend for a solar water heating system?

A solar water heating system installed will cost from $5,000 to $8,000.