By Michelle Harrison
Going solar has many benefits. Some are financial, such as lowering or eliminating your electric bill, and others are for the greater good of our planet by reducing our carbon footprint. One of the questions most commonly asked is whether one should buy or lease. This was addressed in the February 2016 issue of Green Energy Times and often comes down to a financial decision. When considering going solar in New Hampshire or Massachusetts, do not overlook revenue from solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) if you own your system.
What is a SREC? A SREC represents 1,000 kilowatt hours (1 megawatt hour) produced from a registered renewable energy facility. Some states require electricity suppliers to produce a portion of their electricity from renewable resources. To meet this requirement, utilities buy SRECs generated from these facilities to avoid being fined. SRECs are generated based on the total solar production of the system regardless of whether the electricity is used by the owner of the system or placed back to the grid. Therefore, net metering does not interfere with SREC production!
In order to sell SREC’s, the system needs a state certification and an account set up with the New England Power Pool Generation Information System, a third party which issues and tracks all SRECs in New England. Individual homeowners and businesses cannot report production directly. An independent verifier will report your system’s production. Work with your solar installer and a reputable solar aggregator to help you through this process. After completing some simple paperwork, your system will be set-up properly and ready to sell SRECs.
Now you may be wondering, how do you see money coming back to you? Quarterly, the owner of the system reports the electricity production. The solar aggregator collects all the production from individual systems and combines them to sell the SRECs in bulk to utilities, so they can satisfy their renewable energy production requirements. The sale is done through an auction, so the SREC price varies quarterly. After the auction, your payment comes to you! The value of the SREC varies by state.
While the federal and state rebates are great, they are one-time revenue streams. The SREC program provides a continuous revenue stream from your solar array. All these benefits need to be considered when going solar and the decision to buy versus to lease. Take advantage of all the solar incentives available and go solar today!