Once a homeowner signs a contract with Solargaines for a solar photovoltaic system, we begin the paperwork process on their behalf. While the solar application process can vary, the typical process we follow in Maryland is similar to many other regions.
For grid tied systems, the utility company requires interconnection. There is an application process to determine that you are a generating facility tied to the grid and helps to determine the size of systems going on the grid. The application requires the utility company supplier and distributor information, the account number and the exact name and address that is listed on the utility account.
Once we figure out which utility company to interconnect with, we have to determine whether the system is a level one (10 kW AC and under) or level two (over 10 kW AC). For a basic level one, we will need the DC system design capacity or size of your system and the AC system design for the inverter.We use the PV Watts calculator.
The PV Watts calculator takes your DC system size and orientation of your roof which is called your azimuth and identifies the AC rating as well as the approximate energy you will generate. It has a standard 39.2 degrees as the array tilt, this is the optimal tilt for solar panels determined by our latitude at noon. The DC to AC derate factor is at the standard 0.77. This considers all shading, age of the panels and available sun that helps generate the kilowatt hours of energy. The PV Watts sheet must be submitted to BGE with the application.
The interconnection application asks if the inverter has been lab tested. The answer is to that is yes, all inverters installed in the United States that are interconnecting to the grid are UL Rated, hence lab certified.
The homeowner must sign the application, we have them sign the initial application which is on page 3 of 7 of a level one and sign page 7 of 7 which is the completion certificate. The completion certificate does not get sent in until after we have final inspection.
The interconnection application must have the inverter make and model. Along with the application and pv watts for a level one, we also include specification sheets for the module and inverter. Some other utility companies require one line diagrams and site plans for under 10 kW, BGE only requires this information if we are applying for a level two and also have a 25 page agreement that the homeowner must sign. The 25 page document contains standard guidelines to accept and follow from BGE.
Applications can be submitted via email or mail. We mail level two applications, since there is a fee associated. Currently in Maryland the fee is $50.00 plus $1.00 for each AC kW.
Within one to five days of submitting the application to BGE we hear back and receive conditional approval status. BGE emails this information to us, the contractor and to the homeowner. This is why it is important to have an email address, so that the homeowner can always be updated. Conditional approval gives us, the contracto,r the “go-ahead” to install the solar system. BGE is very quick with conditional approval. Some utility companies can take up to twenty days for review.
Electrical and Building Inspection
Once the solar system is installed, we have an electrical inspection from the county. Once the electrical inspection is complete, a building inspection, if necessary can be called in. Now that we have final electrical inspection, we can submit this along with the certificate of completion that the homeowner previously signed to BGE. BGE takes one to five days to receive the certificate of completion and turn that over to the net meter install department.
Net Meter Installation
BGE notifies all parties with a scheduling status email. From the date of that notice, BGE has fifteen days to perform the net metering installation. If the meter is inside, it will have a scheduled date. If the meter is outside, BGE will come during business hours within the fifteen days to do the install. Once the meter is installed, BGE has one to three days to provide a final approval.
The final approval is used to set up the SREC’s or solar renewable energy credits. The credits are earned by the solar system producing energy. 1,000 kilowatt hours of solar electricity equals 1 SREC. These can be sold, currently SREC’s are selling for $125.00 each, however this is subject to change. Solargaines, as with most solar companies, has an outside broker for the selling of SRECS.