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What about permits?
发表于:2012-04-21 17:38:11
来源:solarbe作者:solarbe


If you live in a community in which a homeowners association requires approval for a solar system, you or your PV provider may need to submit your plans. Gain approval from your home- owners association before you begin installing your PV system. Under the law in some states, you have the right to install a solar system on your home.
Most likely, you will need to obtain permits from your city or county build- ing department. You will probably need a building permit, an electrical permit, or both before installing a PV system. Typically, your PV provider will take care of this, rolling the price of the per- mits into the overall system price. How- ever, in some cases, your PV provider may not know how much time or money will be involved in “pulling” a permit.
If so, this task may be priced on a time- and-materials basis, particularly if addi- tional drawings or calculations must be provided to the permitting agency. In any case, make sure the permitting costs and responsibilities are addressed at the start with your PV provider.
Code requirements for PV systems vary somewhat from one jurisdiction to the next, but most requirements are based on the National Electrical Code
(NEC). The NEC has a special section, Article 690, that carefully spells out requirements for designing and instal- ling safe, reliable, code-compliant PV systems. Because most local require- ments are based on the NEC, your building inspector is likely to rely on Article 690 for guidance in determining whether your PV system has been prop- erly designed and installed. If you are among the first people in your commu-
nity to install a grid-connected PV sys- tem, your local building department may not have approved one of these systems. If this is the case, you and your PV provider can speed the process by working closely and cooperatively with your local building officials to help educate them about the technol- ogy and its characteristics.

What about insurance?
Your electric utility will require you to enter into an interconnection agree- ment, described more fully in the next section. Usually, these agreements set forth minimum insurance requirements that you must keep in force. If you are buying a PV system for your home, your standard homeowner’s insurance policy is usually adequate to meet the utility’s requirements. However, if insurance coverage becomes an issue, contact one of the groups under Getting Help at the end of this booklet.

How  do I get an interconnection agreement?
Connecting your PV system to the utility grid will require you to enter into an interconnection agreement and a purchase and sale agreement. Federal law and perhaps your state’s public utility commission regulations require utilities to supply you with an intercon- nection agreement. Some utilities have developed simplified, standardized interconnection agreements for small- scale PV systems.
The interconnection agreement speci- fies the terms and conditions under which your system will be connected to the utility grid. These will include your obligation to obtain permits and insur- ance, maintain the system in good working order, and operate it safely. The purchase and sale agreement specifies the metering arrangements, the payment for any excess generation, and any other related issues.
The language in these contracts should be simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. If you are unclear about your obligations under these agreements, you should contact the util- ity or your electrical service provider
for clarification. If your questions are not adequately addressed, contact one of the groups under Getting Help at the end of this booklet.
National standards for utility inter- connection of PV systems are quickly being adopted by many local utilities. The most important of these standards focuses on inverters. Traditionally, inverters simply converted the DC elec- tricity generated by PV modules into
the AC electricity used in our homes. More recently, inverters have evolved into remarkably sophisticated devices to manage and condition power. Many new inverters contain all the protective relays, disconnects, and other compo- nents necessary to meet the most strin- gent national standards. Two of these standards are particularly relevant:
• Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, P929: Recommended Practice for Utility Interface of Photovoltaic Systems. Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc., New York, NY (1998).
• Underwriters Laboratories, UL Subject 1741: Standard for Static Inverters and Charge Controllers for Use in Photovoltaic Power Systems (First Edition). Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., Northbrook, IL (December 1997).
You don’t need to fully understand these standards, but your PV provider and utility should. It is your obligation to ensure that your PV provider uses equipment that complies with the rele- vant standards, so be sure to discuss this issue.

How  do I get a net-metering agreement?
Some utilities offer customers with PV systems the option to “net meter” the excess power generated by the PV system. This means that when the PV system generates more power than the household can use, the utility pays the full retail price for this power in an even swap as the electric meter spins backward.
Net metering allows eligible cus- tomers with PV systems to connect to the grid with their existing single meter. Almost all standard utility meters are able to measure the flow of energy in either direction. The meter spins for- ward when electricity is flowing from the utility into the building and spins backward when power is flowing from the building to the utility. For example, in one utility program, customers are billed monthly for the “net” energy consumed. If the customer’s net con- sumption is negative in any month
(i.e., the PV system produces more energy than the customer uses), the balance is credited to subsequent months. Once a year, on the anniversary of the effective date of the interconnec- tion agreement, the utility will pay the customer for any negative balance at its wholesale or “avoided cost” for energy, which may be quite small, perhaps less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Net metering allows customers to get more value from the energy they gener- ate. It also simplifies both the metering. process (by eliminating the need for a second meter) and the accounting process (by eliminating the need for monthly payments from your utility). Be sure to ask your utility about its policy regarding net metering.
Under the federal Public Utility Regu- latory Policies Act (PURPA), utilities must allow you to interconnect your
PV system, and they must also buy any excess electricity you generate (beyond what you use in your home or business). If your utility does not offer net meter- ing, it will probably require you to use two meters: one to measure the flow of electricity into the building, the other
to measure the flow of electricity out of the building. If net metering is not avail- able, the utility will only pay you a wholesale rate for your excess electric- ity. In this case, you will have a strong incentive to use all the electricity you generate so that it offsets electricity
you would otherwise have to purchase at the retail rate. This may be a factor in how you optimize your system size, because you may want to limit the excess electricity you generate. This “dual metering” arrangement is the norm for industrial customers who generate their own power.

What about utility and inspection sign-off?
After your new PV system is installed, it must be inspected and “signed off” by the local permitting agency (usually a building or electrical inspector) and most likely by the electric utility with which you entered into an interconnec- tion agreement. Inspectors may possi- bly require your PV provider to make corrections, but don’t be alarmed—this is fairlycommon in the construction business. A copy of the building permit
showing final inspection sign-off may be required to qualify for a solar rebate program.

What about warranties?
Warranties are key to ensuring that your PV system will be repaired if something should malfunction during the warranty period. PV systems eligible for some solar rebate programs must carry a full (not “limited”) two-year warranty, in addition to any manufac- turers’ warranties on specific compo- nents. This warranty should cover all parts and labor, including the cost of removing any defective component, shipping it to the manufacturer, and reinstalling the component after it is repaired or replaced. The rebate pro- gram’s two-year warranty requirement supercedes any other warranty limita- tions. In other words, even if the manu- facturer’s own warranty on a particular component is less than two years, the system vendor must still provide you with a two-year warranty. Similarly, even if the manufacturer’s warranty is
a limited warranty that does not include the cost of removing, shipping, and reinstalling defective components, the system vendor must cover these costs
if the retailer also installed the system. Be sure you know who is responsible
for honoring the various warranties asso-
ciated with your system—the installer, the dealer, or the manufacturer. The vendor should disclose the warranty responsibility of each party. Know the financial arrangements, such as contrac- tor's bonds, that assure the warranty will be honored. Remember, a warranty does not guarantee that the company will remain in business. Get a clear under- standing of whom you should contact
if there is a problem. Under some solar rebate programs, vendors must provide documentation that specifies information on system and component warranty coverage and claims procedures. To avoid any later misunderstandings, be sure to read the warranty carefully and review the terms and conditions with your retailer.

To get more information on solar electric systems, please contact
National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)
1414 Prince Street
Suite 200
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Phone: (703) 299-8800
Fax: (703) 299-6208
http://www.naseo.org/Members/statewebs.htm
Check the above Web site to find the contact for your state energy office, which typically promotes the development and use of renewable-energy resources in your state. They may offer technical assistance, sponsor workshops and forums, and provide general information to resident energy consumers on renewable- energy resources and applications.

National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC)
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Suite 603
P. O. Box 684
Washington, D.C. 20044-0684
Phone: (202) 898-2200
Fax: (202) 898-2213
http://www.naruc.org
The above Web site has a listing of state Public Utility Commissions that you may contact.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)
122 C Street, NW
4th Floor
Washington, DC 20001-2109
Fax: (202) 363-2670
http://www.seia.org
The Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of the solar industry. Many states have a state chapter of the national SEIA organization, which can be checked on the above Web site.

Other Web Sites to Check
www.nrel.gov/ncpv National Center for Photovoltaics www.eren.doe.gov/millionroofs Million Solar Roofs
www-solar.mck.ncsu.edu/dsire.htm   Database of State Incentives for Renewable
Energy (DSIRE)
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