I hear the phrase “grid-tie” a lot, what does that mean?
A solar PV array that is “grid-tied” is connected to the electric power distribution grid through your local electric utility’s power lines. These are the same lines that bring power into your home or business. Having a grid-tied array allows you to take advantage of programs that may allow you to sell excess solar power produced during the day and still have utility power available to meet your power needs at night and during the day when demand for power exceeds solar array production. The advantage to a grid tie system is that it is the least expensive type solar system to install. The disadvantage is that when the Utility Company has a power failure, so do you.
What is a watt and how many watts will a solar array produce?
A 100 watt (W) light-bulb consumes 1 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity if left on for 10 hours (i.e. 100 W x 10 hrs = 1,000 Wh or 1 kWh).
Solar arrays are often referred to as some multiple of kilowatts…a 2.4 kW array is a 2,400 watt array, a 3.2 kW array is a 3,200 watt array, etc. A solar array rated at 1 kW would require four 250 watt panels. Under ideal conditions in Mississippi (i.e. proper orientation, no shading) this 1 kW array would produce, on average, about 4 kWh of electricity daily or about 120 kWh a month on average. A 5 kW array would produce, on average, about 20 kWh a day or about 600 kWh of electricity in a month.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has recently announced the reopening of its Green Power Providers Program(GPPP) for the year of 2014. Several changes have been made to the program including a major change in the selection process, as well as several other changes since last year, including the pricing and the size limitations. Since 2011, the GPPP has been purchasing renewable energy from its participants at a premium price until a certain capacity has been reached. TVA then uses this “Green” as part of the assurance of clean energy generation in their Green Power Switch program.
TVA is offering to purchase renewable energy for 4 cents above the market rate.
10 MW is the capacity limit, with 4 MW for residential and 6 MW for non residential
Customers submit a request to their local power company (LPC), prior to the Feb 17th deadline
Upon review and approval by TVA & the LPC, applications will be randomly selected until capacity +30% for waitlist has been met. Results will be published between Feb 21~24th on the TVA website.
The GPPP will purchase the power generated by solar, wind, low-impact hydropower, and biomass from residential and commercial participants. This year, the premium price will be $0.04 per kWh, making it an approximate total price of $0.14 per kWh, a 26% decrease from the price last year, according to TVA. TVA explains this drop in price as a reflection of the gradual decrease in cost of solar as compared to other traditional energy sources.
Size of capacity limitations will also be placed on applicants’ systems. System under 10 KW will be deemed Fast Track Projects, meaning significantly fewer reviews and criteria. Any system between 10 KW and 50 KW, the maximum capacity will be subjected to further reviews. To see the full requirement please refer to the 2014 Green Power Providers Program Participation Guidelines.
The selection process has undergone the greatest change since years past, with a random selection process. TVA will have an open submission period between January 15th and February 17th, during which any number of applications may be submitted. There will be two selection pools, a residential pool with 4 MW of capacity, and a non-residential pool of 6 MW. There will be an additional 30% capacity worth of applicants selected as a waitlist. The results of the selection will be posted between February 21~24th, with the local power providers notified and the results posted on the TVA website. It is important to note that this capacity includes the entire TVA region, including north eastern Mississippi. To qualify for an application entry, you must be within the TVA area as well as have a participating local power company. (TVA service area)
If you are interested in installing solar in 2014 and are the in the TVA area, we at Mississippi solar will be pleased to help in sizing a proper system, and assist in anyway possible in the application process. We have been a participant in the TVA program since its inception, helping many consumers sign on to the GPPP with great success. For more information and guidance, please contact us here, or visit our website in our arrays of the months to see testimonials from other GPPP participants.
This 3.2 kW grid tie solar carport has been chosen as the Array of the Month. Owner; Gerald Savage, Calendonia, MS. Mr. Savage was part of the TVA Green Power Providers Program.
“Recently I had a 3.2kW grid-tie array installed in my front yard. I chose the carport style to park my truck under it. Installation was completed the last of July and it’s been fun watching my power bill drop. Prior to installation, my Utility bill averaged between $98 to $145 a month. So, I was pleased when my first statement arrived.
My September bill was $44.99. My October bill was $13.38. November was a credit of $3.96 (that’s right, they owed me), December was also a credit of .68 cents and the January bill coming up is $45.95. This is great. Now understand, between November and Dec ember, the weather was not too good, but I still got a low light bill.
I have been in contact with MS Solar and plan to expand my system to a total of 24 panels. I am very pleased with my savings each month. Highly recommend you invest in one of their systems, you won’t regret it.
Mississippi Solar is receiving an approximate 45% increase in solar requests for strictly off-grid solar systems. Most of these requests are coming from customers who are currently on grid.
Having lived off grid for much of my adult life and with many friends & associates in the solar business currently living off-grid, it is important for customers to understand that living completely off-grid requires a lifestyle change and for now at least is much more expensive than living on grid.
There are advantages to off-grid systems. Remote cabins and lodges for hunting & fishing or homes where utility access is unreasonably expensive are well-suited for an off-grid system.
Please find owner comments from one of our customers, they recently installed a 3 KW off-grid systems.
"We purchased our cabin approximately 2 years ago which had an existing do-it-yourself (diy) off-grid solar system already installed. It quickly became apparent that the existing system was not properly installed and was “pieced” together using various mail-order components yielding little power to operate basic appliances in the cabin. My spouse, Linda and I decided to learn more about solar energy and environmentally friendly options to not only provide power to our cabin but a lifestyle change from what we had grown up accepting as being the norm.
After struggling to operate and utilize our existing solar system for 6 months we contacted Will Hegman with MS Solar to learn more about solar systems and possible options for powering our cabin. The first thing we learned from Will was that the technology which we feared would be too complex for us to understand and operate was much more straight-forward than expected. Secondly, we learned how to manage our energy consumption as well as purchasing energy efficient appliances. Will provided us with guidance on what type of system would be appropriate for our requirements and match with our budget.
Once we determined our energy requirements we then set about selecting a system type and capacity. Our system was installed in a very professional and timely manner. We have been extremely pleased with MS Solar’s quality of workmanship, assistance in planning and on-going support. Our solar system provides for all our primary energy requirements; however, we also had MS Solar install a back-up propane generator for those times when there may be little to no sun for many days. Another key learning of ours was to make certain that the front-end usage planning is one that meets your short and longer term power requirements allowing you to match the system with your need. We can truly say that our investment in solar energy has been one of our best financial investments for our future."
- Linda & Stan Bulger