How Solar Works for Your Home or Office

Wonder how you can put the sun to work for you? Installing a solar-panel system on your home or business is efficient, provides long-term savings and produces energy that doesn’t harm the planet; it’s 100% pollution free!

You’ll also receive bill credits for excess electricity when your system produces more electricity than your home or business needs. Simply sign up for the Renewable Rewards® plan for residential customers or the Solar Buyback program for commercial customers.

How a solar panel works

The image above shows the steps to convert sunlight into electricity.

  1. Sunlight contains particles of energy called photons.
  2. The panel is usually made up of silicon solar cells, which are constructed with a negative and positive layer. The silicon material absorbs the photons (aka energy) from the sun. The photons excite electrons inside the silicon’s atoms, which makes them dart around and break away. This is what forms an electrical current.
  3. A control device called an inverter changes the electricity from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), which is what we use to power our lights, devices and appliances. The inverter also measures how much energy is produced by the panels.
  4. The electricity flows to your home or business through a breaker box to power your energy needs. Any excess electricity is added to the grid. Customers enrolled on the Renewable Rewards plan receive bill credits for this excess electricity.

When you need energy FROM the grid

If your home or business needs more energy than your system is producing at that moment, then you will still pull electricity from the grid. This happens at night or when it’s cloudy. Your consumption needs, along with your solar generation, determine whether you need to pull from the grid or not. A bidirectional meter signals whether you’re using energy from the grid (in-flow) or supplying excess energy to the grid (out-flow).

Here’s a real-time example:

If your home or business uses a total of 15 kWh of electricity in one hour, and your system’s solar panels produce 10 kWh over the same period, then all of the solar power produced is consumed by the home or business during this time. An additional 5 kWh is pulled from the grid to meet your consumption needs.

When it comes to billing, you would be charged 14 c/kWh for every kWh that was pulled from the grid. In this example, the 5 kWh of power that was used from the grid would total 70¢. And you would not be credited for any excess energy because all of the solar power was consumed by the home or business.

Without solar panels, this home or business would have paid for 15 kWh because it would have all come from the grid. At the same rate of 14 c/kWh, the total charge would be $2.10 for the 15 kWh used.

Having solar panels would have saved this home or business $1.40 for that hour of electricity.

When you supply excess energy TO the grid

If your system is producing more energy than what your household or business consumes at a given time, then you will deliver excess energy to the grid. A bidirectional meter signals whether you’re consuming electricity from the grid (in-flow) or sending electricity back to the grid (out-flow).

The excess energy your system delivers to the grid is clean electricity that’s available for others to use. Supplying solar power to the grid helps build a greener grid. The excess energy your system produces helps replace traditional power generation methods with a renewable resource.

Bill credits are applied to your bill for the excess energy your system delivers to the grid. These credits are available exclusively for residential and business customers who are enrolled on a buyback plan, such as Renewable Rewards (customers must meet plan eligibility requirements). By generating your own power, you’re reducing your energy costs and putting more money back in your pocket.

Here’s a real-time example:

If your home or business uses a total of 10 kWh of electricity in one hour, and your system’s solar panels produce 15 kWh over the same period, then all of the electricity needs are met by the solar power your system produced. You would pull zero electricity from the grid.

When it comes to billing, you would not be billed for any electricity from the grid because none was used. Instead, you would receive a credit for the 5 kWh of excess energy that your system delivered to the grid. At a rate of 14 c/kWh, the 5 kWh of excess energy would result in a 70¢ Renewable Rewards credit.

Without solar panels, this home or business would have been charged for 10 kWh of consumption, at a rate of 14 c/kWh, which totals $1.40.

Having solar panels would have saved this home or business $2.10 for that hour of electricity.

Renewable Rewards plan details

  • Renewable Rewards bundles the energy and TDSP fees together, so even if your TDSP raises its prices, your price and your buyback rate won’t change.
  • The buyback rate is one-to-one with your usage rate. That means the price you’re credited for excess energy is the same price your pay for usage from the grid.
  • Customers on a Renewable Rewards plan will still consume energy from the grid. At night, customers will always pull electricity from the grid and will be charged for that usage. However, during a sunny day, customers may deliver excess energy to the grid, resulting in bill credits.
  • It’s important to remember that you’ll use some of the electricity your system produces before it’s had a chance to flow through the meter. This is why your Renewable Rewards bill credit (for excess energy) is less than your total solar production.

Want to know even more? We’ve got more benefits and information about the power of solar energy, along with details about the Renewable Rewards buyback plan.