Talking About Solar

We’re here to help members with is less than 3.5 cents per kWh. information and questions about This cost is important as we look solar, whether you’re wondering if solar is right for you, or already have solar.

More than 1,500 Mohave Electric members have a solar system at their home or business. And MEC continues to expand our own portfolio of renewable energy resources to serve members, with new solar facilities combined with battery storage expected to come online later this year which will help improve reliability.

MEC’s purchased power resources include utility-scale solar renewable energy

Mohave Electric Cooperative is a not-for-profit entity and strives
to provide reliable and affordable power, from a variety of generation resources for all our member-own- ers. To provide this power, MEC has firm power contracts for bulk power and reserve power to meet a large portion of our members’ needs. These contracts help keep rates sta- ble and assure reliability. MEC also monitors the price and availability of various resources, including solar, on the wholesale energy market on an hourly basis besides track- ing market projections and costs for energy supplies over time. MEC shops hourly to pay the lowest cost for energy in order to keep rates as low as possible for our members.

Cost of solar power

Our present payment for solar pur- chased from bulk power providers at what members with solar systems are paid for the excess power their system may generate.

Residential and commercial member solar energy production and export energy

While it’s not possible to exactly size a solar system to a member’s energy needs due to variances in weather conditions, living habits, and solar system performance, system size can be estimated based on previous annual kWh used. MEC follows the rules of the Arizona Corporation Commission and allows systems to be up-sized to 125% of usage history. Some members choose a solar system that provides a smaller portion of their expected usage primarily because of budget preferences for the cost of the system.

Because a solar system only generates power when the sun is shining and does not provide power at night or when extra power is needed, a member is billed for additional power provided by MEC over the amount the solar is producing to ensure a member has power all the time, except in the event of an unplanned outage.

A member’s excess solar power generated over the amount needed by the member location is referred to as export energy. The export energy is transported to the grid using MEC’s electric infrastructure and equipment at no cost to the member. The MEC meter at a solar location keeps track of the kWh delivered by MEC to the member location and also records the amount of excess solar energy exported, if any. MEC’s meter does not track the member’s total solar production.

Options to consider – Ask your contractor

Solar Production Meter – Members may ask their solar contractor to install a production meter that keeps track of the actual kWh produced by their solar system. The solar production meter is separate from the MEC meter, and is not provided by MEC.

Battery Storage – Another option is to install a battery system that stores any excess solar energy for later use, such as when solar is not producing energy. Depending on the setup, a battery can use a member’s stored solar energy during an outage.

Backup Generator – Members may also install a generator that uses an alternative power source, other than solar or MEC electric power, to produce electricity when solar power is not avail- able. MEC and a licensed electrical contractor can provide information on safety requirements for installing and operating a generator to avoid back feeding into MEC’s system. A backup generator may be able to provide power during an MEC outage.

The role of the Arizona Corporation Commission

The Arizona Corporation Com- mission is the regulator authority responsible for approving energy rates for all regulated utilities. A decade ago, when the ACC decided to consider the solar tariff issue, there were several inter- ested parties including solar providers, solar rate intervenors, and utilities. The ACC determined what kWh amount was appropri- ate for MEC’s export energy and considered that the export rate paid to members should reflect to some degree the cost MEC pays for bulk solar energy and also the impact of an export rate that is subsidized by all mem- bers. In 2017 the ACC ruled MEC’s Distributed Generation Service Tariff would adjust annu- ally until it reached the current 5.7 cents per kWh. The ACC in any given year could reconsider this rate, if MEC submits a new tariff.

Summing it up

Under the provisions of MEC’s ACC-approved Distributed Generation Service Tariff, MEC members are paid 5.7 cents per kWh for export of excess solar energy compared to the less than 3.5 cents per kWh average cost MEC pays for other solar energy resources, a net benefit of 2.2 cents per kWh to members with solar (paid for by other members). Instead of exporting excess solar, members may also invest in a battery storage system at their home or residence to retain any excess solar generation, and then use it later when needed.

For more information about solar, including rates and rebates for solar and battery storage, contact our Energy Management Specialist at (928) 763-1100.

Solar Rate Journey

  1. The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) determined MEC should use the Resource Comparison Proxy based on a 5-year rolling weighted average of a utility’s solar purchased power agreements (PPA) to determine solar export rate. (2017)
  2. The initial rate of $0.074171 per kWh would be adjusted and reduced annually by 8% per year until it reached the current $0.057 per kWh which brings the rate closer to Mohave Electric’s PPA rates.
  3. Members receive the $0.057 export rate for solar overproduced by their solar systems called Distributed Generation Service which remains higher than MEC’s current PPA rates.

How to read your Mohave electric bill