Thinking of Going Solar?
To find a licensed solar installer please refer to the AZROC Website
ASK QUESTIONS BEFORE LEASING SOLAR PANELS
As a result of an increase in complaints from citizens in Arizona who have purchased or leased systems, the legislature has approved a law that requires mandatory disclosure for solar purchases and leases. The bill went into effect on January 1, 2016.
Before signing any agreement, you should take the time to read the fine print thoroughly, get the responses back in writing and ask questions. Some questions you may want to ask:
- Make sure you understand how much this system will cost over the life of the lease or purchase. Understand any interest or fees to be paid. Total number of payments and due dates.
- Who has the tax obligations, including the increase in property values?
- Ensure they write down any tax incentives and rebates you might be eligible for and who will be getting them. You or the installer?
- How and can the warranty or maintenance obligations be sold or transferred to anyone else?
- What happens if you sell your home (what happens to the lease)?
- What statistics are the installers using for projection of future electric rates?
- What is the combination of lease costs and electric bills and what are you paying now. Do you save?
Before agreeing to install a PV system at your home, you should review all of the requirements of Arizona Senate Bill 1465. Trico will be requiring that all solar Interconnection Applications received on or after January 1, 2016, contain the required information in Arizona Senate Bill 1465.
Remember, our State Legislature and Governor would not have passed this bill if there weren’t a lot of complaints. If you feel that you may be the victim of customer fraud, contact the Arizona Attorney General’s Tucson office at 628-6504. Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the Attorney General’s website at azag.gov.
Trico’s Proposed Net Metering Tariff Change
Why are we making this Change?
When Members pay Trico’s retail energy rate, that rate includes not just the cost of the energy, but the fixed costs of building and maintaining the electric grid as well. But when Members generate their own power, they don’t pay an equal share of those fixed costs, even though they use the grid to both buy and sell electricity. Those costs must eventually be passed on to other Members.
Trico has recently experienced a nearly threefold increase in the volume of applications for renewable energy interconnections, mainly because of aggressive marketing of leased rooftop solar systems by large solar providers. The continued growth in renewable energy interconnections has resulted in an increasingly large amount of unrecovered fixed costs that must be borne by other Members. This trend threatens Trico’s financial viability and will ultimately result in higher rates for the Cooperative’s Members.
The bottom line is that Trico currently is paying significantly more for energy that our net metered Members put back into the grid than the energy we buy from other sources. Trico believes that paying for power generated by a Member’s renewable energy system at the rate we pay for other energy, while allowing Members to offset their own energy usage at the retail rate, provides an appropriate incentive for Members to invest in renewable energy, balanced against the cost of those incentives to other Members.
One of Trico’s key responsibilities as a Member-owned electric cooperative, in addition to providing safe, reliable power, is to provide sound fiscal management of the Cooperative. And we need to do this in a way that provides fair and equitable service to all of our 38,000 Members.
Your Trico Board of Directors has approved, subject to regulatory approval, a DG Energy Export Tariff that will pay for energy generated by a Member’s renewable energy system above that which is needed to supply the Member’s own needs at $0.07700 per kWh. Members with renewable energy systems will still be able to offset their own needs and avoid paying the retail rate for that energy. This change, if approved by the Commission as proposed, would only apply to Members who plan to install renewable generation after May 31, 2016. If you already have renewable generation and began taking service under Trico’s existing Net Metering tariff prior to June 1, 2016, you will continue to be credited in the way you are now.
Rate case settlement
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Study Summary Article
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Study "The Future of Solar Energy"
"Piggybacking on the Grid" by Charles E. Bayless
The Arizona Corporation Commission (Commission) will consider Trico’s Rate Case Settlement Agreement (Docket No. E-01461A-15-0363), which would impact how Trico compensates its rooftop solar Members for the excess energy they push back onto Trico’s electric grid. The Commission is not bound by any party’s proposal, and may accept, reject, or modify any proposed rate, charge or term of service.
Frequently Asked Questions - Click to Open
What is SunWatts?
SunWatts is a renewable energy program designed to encourage Trico members to install qualifying solar (photovoltaic, or PV) and solar water heating equipment at their home or small business.
Where does Trico get the money to fund its SunWatts program?
Funding for the SunWatts program comes from the Renewable Energy Standard Tariff (REST), a surcharge placed on all members’ bills. This surcharge is mandated by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). All utilities under the ACC’s jurisdiction assess this surcharge.
Does Trico’s SunWatts program provide incentives?
Currently, Trico’s SunWatts program only provides up‐front incentives for solar water heating systems. Trico’s residential and small non-residential members can receive an incentive for installing a qualifying solar water heating system at their residence or small business. Trico will provide an incentive at an established rate for every kilowatt‐hour saved over traditional water heating during the unit’s first year of operation. Visit Trico’s website at www.trico.coop for Trico’s current incentive details.
How can I calculate my Trico solar water heating incentive?
To calculate the incentive for your solar water heating system, visit the Solar Rating & Certification Corporation’s website at www.solar‐rating.org and follow these directions:
- Click on ‘Ratings’
- Select ‘Systems’
- Select ‘AZ‐Tucson’ for the Location
- Select the ‘SRCC Number’ associated with system
- A PDF will generate showing a description of the system.
- Click on ‘Ratings’
Is a member guaranteed to receive an incentive if their rebate enrollment forms are approved?
No. Trico cannot guarantee payment of an incentive. As long as Trico has an ACC‐approved REST Tariff (e.g. surcharge), there will be funding available for incentives. In the event the ACC changes the funding process and Trico is no longer approved to collect the surcharge, incentive funding will discontinue.
To calculate your incentive, multiply the annual energy savings (kWh) by Trico’s incentive rate currently in affect. If you do not have internet access, have questions, or need assistance calculating your incentive, call the SunWatts Desk at (520) 744‐2944 ext. 1524.
Does Trico provide performance based incentives (PBI)?
No. Pursuant to Trico’s 2015 Renewable Energy Standard Tariff (REST) Plan approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission in Decision No. 74863 dated December 18, 2014, Trico no longer provides Performance Based Incentives (PBIs).
What else is Trico doing to promote renewable energy?
Trico, in partnership with other Arizona not‐for‐profit electric cooperatives, looks for large‐scale renewable projects that will benefit its members. These projects include large purchase‐power agreements from renewable energy generators and the installation of utility‐scale renewable energy generating units.
Does Trico assist with the selection of a renewable energy system for my home?
No. Trico does not assist with the selection or sizing of any renewable energy system for home or non-residential use. Questions regarding system selection, sizing, savings, etc. should be directed to a licensed contractor.
Does Trico recommend any contractors?
No. However, Trico recommends obtaining a quote from at least three (3) licensed solar installers. To find a licensed solar installer, please contact the Arizona Registrar of Contractors at www.azroc.gov.
What types of photovoltaic (PV) systems are available?
- Off‐Grid system:
An off‐grid system has its own complete, self‐contained power generation station. It is independent of Trico’s distribution lines (the “grid”), and all power needed by the home is produced on‐site by the use of solar energy. A typical off‐grid system will have a solar array, a battery bank, an inverter, and a number of other components needed for system control, monitoring and safety.
- Grid‐Tied System with Battery Backup:
Grid‐tied homes with battery backup are connected to Trico’s distribution lines. This allows the home or business to utilize and/or store the electrical energy the system is generating. During an outage, this system automatically switches to the backup battery power. When the utility power is restored, the system automatically switches back to using a combination of solar and utility power.
- Grid‐tied System without Battery Backup:
Grid‐tied systems without battery backup are connected to Trico’s distribution lines. This allows the home or business to utilize both renewable energy (solar) and Trico’s electricity. These systems are the most economical and popular because they eliminate the expense and maintenance of storage batteries. A grid‐tied system is designed to meet the electrical needs of the member’s load first by the PV system. If the PV system is unable to meet the electrical needs of the home, the utility will supply the difference. At times when the PV system is generating more energy than what is being consumed by the member, the excess energy is delivered back onto Trico’s distribution lines.
Does Trico allow its member to interconnect a leased photovoltaic system to its grid?
Yes, as long as a photovoltaic system that is interconnected to Trico’s grid follows Trico’s Interconnection Requirements, it does not matter whether the system is owned by the member or leased through a third‐party.
What happens to my system, without a battery backup, when there is a Trico outage?
When there is a Trico outage, the photovoltaic system will shut down automatically. This is a safety feature that is required to avoid danger to personnel working on the distribution lines. Without a battery backup system, the house will be without electricity and it is not possible to use the electricity from the photovoltaic system until the outage has been restored.
If a system generates more energy (kWh) than what is consumed, can the excess energy be sold back to Trico?
Yes, Trico will purchase the excess energy that a member’s system generates and distributes back onto the grid. During Trico’s Interconnection inspection, a bi‐directional meter will be provided/installed by Trico, which will measure the amount of energy being distributed back onto Trico’s grid. The rate at which Trico pays per kWh is dependent on the tariff under which the member takes service from Trico.
Does Trico offer Net Metering to its members?
Trico offers Net Metering to its members who submitted an Interconnection Application on or before February 24, 2017 and have a qualifying Net Metering Facility. A Net Metering Facility means a facility for the production of electricity that:
- Is operated by or on a member’s behalf and is located on the member’s premises;
- Is intended to provide part of or all of the member’s requirements for electricity;
- Uses renewable resources;
- Has a generating capacity of less than or equal to 125% of the member’s total connected load, or in the absence of load data, capacity less than or equal to the electric service drop capacity; and
- Is interconnected with and can operate in parallel with Trico’s existing distribution system.
For members taking part under Trico’s Net Metering Tariff, the excess energy generated by or on behalf of a member’s system and distributed back onto Trico’s grid can be used to offset the energy (kWh) provided by Trico during the applicable billing period. On an annual basis, Trico will issue the member a check or billing credit for the balance of any energy (kWh) generated in excess of the amount consumed by the member from Trico. The payment for any remaining credits shall be at Trico’s annual average net avoided cost.
For Residential Members who submit rooftop solar applications after February 24, 2017, solar generated in excess of the Member’s own needs will be purchased by Trico at the rate of 7.7 cents per kWh, pursuant to Trico’s DG Energy Export Tariff, rather than netted or credited at the full retail rate.
For more information regarding Trico’s Net Metering Tariff and Trico’s DG Energy Export Tariff, please visit www.trico.coop.
What will the minimum amount of my utility bill be if my photovoltaic system generates more energy than I consume during a billing period?
A member whose photovoltaic system generates more energy than he/she consumes during a given billing period will always pay a minimum bill of approximately $25. This includes fixed fees associated with being interconnected to the grid, surcharge(s), and taxes.
Can I turn my system on before Trico’s interconnection inspection?
No. First, a member does not have permission to operate his/her system until Trico completes its interconnection inspection and provides the member permission to operate his/her system. Second, for systems that are turned on before a bi‐directional meter is installed, the member will be charged for the excess energy that is distributed back onto the grid because the member’s existing meter, unlike a bi‐directional meter, does not have the ability to differentiate between the power being consumed by the member and the excess power being generated and distributed back onto the grid.
Will I be charged a service fee when Trico comes to inspect my system and/or exchange my meter?
Members will not be assessed a service fee when Trico conducts its inspections for both photovoltaic and solar water heating systems. Members will also not be charged a service fee when Trico replaces their existing meter with a bidirectional meter after installing a photovoltaic system (this is not necessary when installing a solar water heating system). However, should Trico be required to re-inspect the PV system, the Trico member will be charged a $50 return trip charge for each additional trip in accordance with Trico’s Schedule of Special Charges.
Does Trico offer a way for members to track their usage and generation of their system after having a photovoltaic system installed?
Yes. Through Trico’s SmartHub system, members have the ability to track their usage (the difference between the energy they consume and the energy their system generates) and the total generation of their system. Members have the ability to track this data on a monthly, daily and hourly basis within SmartHub. For more information regarding this program, visit Trico’s website at www.trico.coop or call (520) 744‐2944.
During what time of year does my system operate the most efficiently?
Photovoltaic systems are most efficient in the spring and fall time, when the temperature averages around 70‐80 degrees. Contrary to what most believe, the long, hot summer days of southern Arizona can cause the system to not operate as efficiently as it would when it is cooler outside.
Does Trico guarantee the output of my system?
No. Trico does not guarantee the output of a member’s system. The guaranteed output of a system is often discussed and agreed upon between the member and the contractor, which Trico has no part in.
Why does ‘green’ energy cost more than regular energy?
While renewable energy sources like the sun are abundant, the technology used to harness them is still evolving. This translates into a higher cost per watt than traditional sources of energy. As more people adopt renewable energy and the technology advances, prices should come down.