If you’re considering the purchase of a solar array, Tideland is here to help you explore your options including the addition of a residential battery. As you embark on your exploration of a solar array or battery purchase, give our energy services manager, Heidi Smith, a call at 252.944.2410.
We're Committed to Reducing Carbon Emissions
Tideland has its own solar array on Highway 32 in Beaufort County. We also serve as host to two microgrid projects, jointly owned by North Carolina's Electric Cooperatives, that incorporate both Tesla batteries and solar arrays. One of the microgrid facilities is at Ocracoke; the second is in Ponzer. We are excited about the opportunity to conduct real world data collection about these facilities and understand, firsthand, both the challenges and opportunities presented by locally generated, carbon-free power.
Start By Defining Your End Goal
The first question we ask members interested in a renewable energy project is what the end goal is and what is driving interest in owning a generating facility. The answers vary. Some members are in the market for a source of standby emergency power and see solar plus a battery as a viable alternative to traditional propane or gasoline/diesel fueled generators. Other members say they are primarily motivated by a desire to reduce their carbon footprint. More commonly though, members tell us they are motivated by the desire to lower their monthly energy costs.
If lowering energy costs is your motivating factor, we generally suggest that you first utilize the co-op's free in-home energy audit service. Why? Because we are often able to identify low cost, high impact projects that will reduce your energy costs with a much better rate of return than the purchase, installation, and maintenance of a solar array. Remember: the cleanest energy is the energy we never use.
Buy All, Sell All
While Tideland EMC does not offer net metering, we do allow members to interconnect small renewable generating projects (up to 50 kW) with our distribution delivery system. We compensate our members for their contributions at what is called “avoided cost” –or a price in line with what we pay for wholesale power before infrastructure and operational costs. Compensating our members for excess solar energy at “avoided cost” ensures they earn a fair price for what they produce while also paying for the infrastructure still utilized by the home.
Under this type of "buy all, sell all" arrangement, a member with a home solar installation still purchases all of their electricity needs from the grid at our retail rate. The electricity generated by the home solar panels goes directly back onto the grid, and the member producing it is compensated at a prearranged rate. Although the solar energy produced is not used at the home, members with a home solar installation are still making an impact by injecting renewable power resources onto the grid. The “buy all, sell all” arrangement also ensures costs of electricity and access to the grid are fairly allocated.
Solar Plus Battery Alternative
Several members have invested in solar plus battery projects and have elected not to interconnect with the co-op. Instead they use the energy they generate to charge their household battery so they can utilize the power to meet their own energy needs. These members sign an agreement with the co-op stating that they will not backfeed power onto our electric system.
All renewable generating systems must be registered with the NC Utilities Commission.
The Interconnection Process and Documents
All projects must be pre-approved by Tideland EMC prior to installation. Please call operations manager Ben Beagle at 252.944.2416.