WH Solar frequently asked questions

 Questions about community solar and other offerings from WH Solar? This blog addresses some of our most frequently asked questions. 

Posted on August 11, 2015

The motto here at WH Solar is “Solar Made Simple,” because we strive to make your alternative and renewable energy experience as effortless and easy as possible. But we know there are questions that everyone has on their mind before joining a solar community. 

Our goal with this blog is to answer some frequently asked questions about solar communities that current members asked before joining, in trying to arm you with as much information as possible before contacting us, or a third party solar distributor. 


Solar power raises a lot of questions, and we love to answer them

Q: How does this cost of community solar compare to doing solar on my house?
A: While the cost of putting solar panels on your house varies greatly from house to house, Wright-Hennepin (WH) has tried to keep the WH Solar pricing in line with, or slightly less, than the average cost of putting solar panels on the home.

Q:What if there is storm damage to the panels? How do the panels get repaired and do I receive a credit during that time?
A: The community solar panels are insured for storm damage.  If the community solar arrays are damaged during a storm, members will pay the regular energy rate while the panels are being repaired, and then they will go back to the solar rate when the community solar array is back in operation.

Q: Do you use made-in-MN panels?
A: For our first two community solar arrays, we used panels that were made in Minnesota. We also plan to use panels made in Minnesota for our third community solar array.

Q: Who owns the panels?
A: Wright-Hennepin will own the panels in the community solar array.  Members are purchasing the energy produced by the panels.

Q: Once I sign up, is 15.5 cents what I pay for all my energy?
A: Members will pay 15.5 cents per kWh only for the energy produced by their solar panel-units.  Additional energy used at the home will be charged at the current general service energy rate plus the power cost adjustment (PCA).

Q: If my whole house is on the 15.5 cent rate – can you confirm that I do not have a PCA?
A: The community solar energy rate is set at 15.5 cents per kWh.  There will be no PCA added to the solar rate.

Q: What if I size a system for my house and my electric usage goes down?
A: WH will monitor each member’s solar production compared to their usage.  If it appears that the member’s energy use has gone down, then we will work with the member to lower the amount of solar energy they purchase.

Q: If I am currently receiving off-peak discounts how does that work with this program?
A: You can definitely participate in both the community solar program and off-peak as well.  Since the off-peak rate is already very low, we recommend using community solar energy to cover the regular usage on your house rather than all of the energy.

Q: How do the solar tax credits work?
A: The tax credits are figured into the 15.5 cent per kWh Solar Energy Rate.

Q: What happens if I move?
A: If a community solar member moves from one home served by WH to another home served by WH, the solar energy moves with the member.  If a member moves out of WH’s serving area, they can sell, assign, or donate their solar energy to any other WH member or members.

Q: If I produce more than I use do you buy it back?
A: If your group of solar panel units produces more energy than your home consumes in one month, the extra solar energy goes into a “bank” on your account that will be used in the next month or months.  WH will not buy back “banked” solar energy, so there is no advantage to buying more than you would consume on an annual basis.  The “banked” energy will not expire; however, if a member goes a year or more with “banked” solar energy, WH may work with the member to reduce the number of panel-units the member is paying for.

Q: Is the cost the same for solar for 20 years? Is maintenance is built in?
A: The rate is fixed for 20 years and all maintenance is included in the rate.

Q: Am I buying a panel or just the energy use from it?
A: Members are buying the energy produced by each panel-unit.  They are not buying the physical panels.

Q: Can I roll over to another array after 20 years, instead of going back to regular electric rates?
A: Yes, that’s possible, assuming WH has some available space in another community solar array.

Q: Is this first come, first serve?
A: At this point, energy from the next community solar array is being sold on a first come, first serve basis, and the only limit on the amount a member can purchase is to not go higher than 100 percent of the annual energy use.

Q: What is the average production per year?
A: Our third community solar array will produce approximately 300,000 kWh per year, which is roughly equivalent to the energy used by 25 average homes in the WH serving area.