Before a member can install solar panels on their property and begin receiving the benefits associated with the solar energy system, the member must apply to interconnect the system to REC’s power grid. Regardless of whether the member owns or leases the solar energy system, if it supplies energy to a home or building that is connected to REC’s electric system then it is interconnected. The interconnection allows a member to receive electricity from REC when the solar energy system does not generate enough electricity to meet their energy needs. Additionally, the interconnection allows members to get credit on their bill when the solar energy system produces more energy than the member uses. The interconnection application process is described below. 

how to apply for net metering

Before you install solar panels, wind turbines, or any other distributed energy resource you’ll need to submit a Net Metering application in order to connect to our electric grid. Unless you plan to self-install the equipment, your contractor will submit the application on your behalf. Once approved by REC, the system can be installed, and following the inspection of your equipment, REC will install a bi-directional meter at your location.

Apply for Net Metering

Installing your solar energy system

contractor

 

Consult with a qualified contractor 

It is important to find a qualified contractor that will address and support your needs for getting solar on your home or business. There are many ways to find a contractor, including asking REC members, family and friends for referrals or by searching online. REC has provided some resources below to help guide you in selecting and interacting with a contractor. 

Approved AC Disconnect Devices

When you get a solar energy system installed, it has a manual AC disconnect device that separates the inverter from REC’s electrical grid. It is required by Virginia Net Metering Code to be installed, and there are many different types of disconnects available. However, REC has created a guide for solar contractors to understand what qualifications AC Disconnects must have. It can be found here.

reviews

 

Read customer reviews and recommendations online

Before you start meeting with contractors, REC recommends doing some research into each company’s qualifications and reviews. Below are some links where you can find solar contractors in your area and online reviews. 

  • Energysage lets you compare customer reviews among the top-rated solar installers in Virginia. 
  • SolarReviews lists the current top 20 residential solar installers in Virginia solely based on customer reviews and ratings. 
  • The Better Business Bureau lets you research companies to see their BBB ratings and if any complaints have been filed. 
  • HomeAdvisor allows you to gather price quotes from service companies in your area. 
  • Angi compiles customer reviews and ratings of service contractors local to your area.  
  • Yelp allows you to view solar contractors in your area that have been reviewed and rated by other customers
license

 

Qualifications and Licenses

  • Ask the contractor about their licenses, insurance and certifications. Be sure to ask for a copy of the contractor’s license from the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and verify the license and contact information through the DPOR website. 
  • Ask how long the company has been in business and how long their installers have worked in the industry. Ask the contractor if subcontractors are to be used, what company they are employed by, and what their professional experience is. 
  • Ask the contractor for examples of projects they have completed similar to what yours would be and for references from past projects. 
  • Be sure to ask what permits are required and who is responsible for them, as they vary in each county. 
  • Inquire about the contractor’s liability insurance policy, and verify with their insurance agent that it is still in effect and will cover your type of project.
services

 

 Products and Services 

  • Each solar contractor should be very knowledgeable on their products and services, so be sure to ask them lots of questions. Ask about what products they carry, how they are different, and which they would select for your home and why. 
  • Ask the contractor about their experience in installing the particular products that they have selected for your home. If they have lots of experience and have successfully installed them before, they should be happy to answer any and all questions you may have. 
  • Many solar contractors provide energy-efficiency improvement services for your home or business. Be sure to ask what services they might provide, how much it will cost, and how it will reduce your electricity consumption. 
  • Solar contractors often provide free site inspections to evaluate your property’s potential for solar installation and its expected performance. The contractors should also analyze the history of your energy consumption and costs, as well as inquire about your future needs and desired offset from the solar panels to select the appropriate system size. Be sure to ask if your roof can handle the solar system, and if you will need to adjust anything else about your property. 
  • Ask about the equipment warranties associated with the products they wish to install on your home. Most solar manufacturers provide equipment warranties varying from 10 to 30 years, and these warranties can reduce your maintenance costs if you wish to buy the system. 
  • Ask the contractor about any maintenance services or performance guarantees associated with your system, in the event your system doesn’t operate as expected. 
  • Ask your contractor to produce a written report of what you can expect your solar panels to produce annually and how it will affect your electricity bill. 
  • Be sure to ask your contractor how long the system will take to be installed and how long the project will last. 
  • Ask the solar contractor when you can expect the solar panels to start producing electricity and how you can monitor their performance. 
  • Ask the solar contractor who is responsible for removal and proper disposal of the panels when they reach the end of their life or if you wish to remove them. 

Best Practice Tips and Additional Information

  • Aim to get at least three written bids or quotes from different solar contractors so that you can receive the most competitive offer. Contractors should be willing to do free inspections and estimates including: installation cost, electricity produced from the solar panels, and net cost of the system. 
  • Don’t rush to sign a contract without thoroughly reviewing it. Be sure you understand the costs of the system and if they will remain constant or increase overtime. Don’t rely on a salesperson to read or explain the contract to you. Consult an attorney if you don’t understand it. Verify that all oral promises have been put into the written contract. Ensure that the contractor applies for a building permit. 
  • Be wary about making large down payments. The down payment should be as minimal as can be negotiated, but it is recommended to avoid payments greater than 25-30% of the total cost. 
  • Be sure to explore all financial options with each solar contractor, and compare estimates that they provide with other sources. 
  • Ask the contractor about interconnection service, what the process is like, and who is responsible for what. 

*Note: REC does not endorse or guarantee the work of any contractor, vendor or other third party and is not responsible for any products or services selected or purchased by members. The information contained on these lists is intended to be used for information purposes and is not legal or professional advice.

 

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