Be a Powerful Partner! Columbia Water & Light offers a rebate and net metering for solar systems.
Thinking of installing a solar or photovoltaic (PV) system to generate electricity? Columbia Water & Light encourages you to review this basic information and also conduct detailed research to see if this renewable energy technology is right for you. Columbia Water & Light is a member of the Solar Electric Power Association. Please consult their website for more solar information.
How effective is a solar panel in Columbia? See the data from a photovoltaic panel at the Columbia Career Center.
How does a solar system work?
Photovoltaic (PV) systems capture the electric current created by the interaction between sunlight and a semiconductor. PV systems are different from solar thermal systems which use the sun’s heat.
Solar systems usually don’t produce enough electricity for the average home or business in the Midwest so a back-up source of electricity is generally required. In Columbia, a customer can sign up for net metering which allows the solar producer to either sell any excess electricity generated from the PV system or buy electricity when it is needed.
The diagram on the right shows how a solar system can be hooked into the utility's electric distribution system. Please note, this can only be done with Columbia Water & Light's permission.
Why install a solar system?
Harnessing solar energy reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and lowers pollution. Rebates from the federal government and Columbia Water & Light can help offset the costs of installing a PV system.
The Federal government offers a tax credit until 2016 for installing a solar system for up to 30% of the cost. Consult with your accountant or check the Energy Star website for more information.
Columbia Water & Light offers a one-time $500 per kilowatt rebate for qualifying PV systems. There is a 10 Kilowatt cap on Columbia Water & Light’s solar system rebate and net metering arrangement.
Columbia Water & Light will pay the residential electric rate for electricity generated by a customer’s solar system. An Interconnection & Net Metering agreement must be accepted by the utility for the customer to receive a credit for the energy they generate. See our net metering for solar systems page for more information.
Does my location work for solar energy production?
It is best to place PV modules where they receive exposure to the sun most of the day, all year long. Check your roof throughout the day to see if it is clear of any obstructions that might cause shading. Your contractor can also help evaluate your location.
- The best location for a PV system is on a south facing roof, but an east or west facing roof might also work.
- Flat roofs provide an environment for a variety of solar modules.
- Locating the PV system on the ground can work with either a fixed mount or a tracking mount system.
If the space or the solar exposure for a PV system is limited, consider going to a system with a higher efficiency rating. They are more expensive but make more energy with less square footage of module space.
What is the cost of a solar system?
Costs of PV equipment are dependant on the type of system, where it is installed, the efficiency rating, the manufacturer/retailer and labor costs. Equipment costs make solar produced electricity more expensive than electricity purchased from Columbia Water & Light. A two kilowatt system installed in Columbia is estimated to cost at least $15,000 (after deducting a $3,000 federal tax rebate and a $1,000 Columbia Water & Light rebate). During its 25 year life span this two 2 KW system would produce approximately 69,000 Kilowatt-Hours (KWH) which would cost the customer 23 cents for each kWh. This is between two and three times the current residential electric rate in Columbia. Even though the cost of solar energy is higher, solar systems do provide an environmental benefit to the community and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Selecting a solar contractor
Columbia Water & Light can not endorse any PV system contractors. There are a number of national agencies that keep lists of solar contractors that can be obtained through the internet or over the phone. It is important to ask the contractor for references, licenses and certifications.
Columbia Water & Light’s solar programs
- Study photovoltaic systems and evaluate your energy consumption history.
- Contact several contractors that install PV systems. This will give you an idea of what type will work best for your location, the size and cost of the system.
- Review the parameters of the rebate program and the Interconnection & Net Metering Agreement with your contractor.
- It is in the best interest of the customer that the PV modules not be shaded by any obstruction. Either your contractor or Columbia Water & Light staff can assist you with the placement of your panels.
- Fill out a pre-application and site diagrams and submit them to Columbia Water & Light.
- Columbia Water & Light staff will review your proposal and give you approval to proceed with the project or notify you of any changes to meet the guidelines.
- Fill out the Interconnection & Net Metering Agreement and submit it to Columbia Water & Light.
- Work with your contractor to obtain the necessary permits from Columbia Public Work’s Protective Inspection Division.
- Receive approval from Columbia Water & Light for a net metering arrangement.
- Upon receiving approval from Columbia Water & Light for your Interconnection & Net Metering agreement, proceed with installing the PV system. Your contractor will need to coordinate the installation with Electric Distribution so the system can be tied into the Columbia Water & Light system.
- Submit the final rebate form to Columbia Water & Light for payment.
All forms can be downloaded in a .pdf file. If you have problems downloading and printing the forms, please let us know at 573-874-73725 or send us an e-mail.
- Solar System Rebate PRE-APPLICATION form
- Solar System DIAGRAMS (must be submitted with the pre-application)
- NET METERING and interconnection agreement
- Solar System Rebate FINAL APPLICATION form
Please review the Interconnection & Net Metering agreement for a detailed list of requirements for PV systems attached to the Columbia Water & Light electric system.
- PV systems in Columbia require a pre-application and diagrams to be submitted before the system is installed.
- An Interconnection & Net Metering agreement with Columbia Water & Light must be submitted and approved by Columbia Water & Light.
- The customer must agree not to sell or transfer any renewable energy attributes associated with the PV system that would prevent Columbia Water & Light from counting the energy towards the Renewable Energy Ordinance requirements.
- Interconnection Standards: The PV system should comply with the following standards:
- National Electric Code(NEC) including but not limited to, NEC Articles 690(Guidelines outlining the installation of the system including structural and electrical components) and NEC 705(regarding the safety and warning signs of the system).
- Underwriters Laboratories (UL) including but not limited to, UL 1741(Standard for Static Inverters and Charge Controllers for Use in Photovoltaic Systems), and UL 1703(Standard for Safety: Flat Plate Photovoltaic Module sand Panels)
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Standards including, but notlimitedto15472003(Standard for Interconnecting intellect Systems).
- All equipment must be new and previously unused.
- Photovoltaic panels must come with a 15-year or greater manufacturer’s warranty. All grid-tie, sine-wave inverters must come with a minimum two-year manufacturer’s warranty.
- Paid receipts for the system must be submitted along with the final rebate application. The receipt must list the model numbers for the installed equipment.
- A copy of the electrical permit from the City of Columbia Protective Inspection division must be submitted along with the final rebate application.
- Columbia Water and Light’s rebate program for PV systems went into effect June 1, 2007. Equipment installed before this date is not eligible. One time rebates are available for qualifying electric customers. Rebates are offered on a first come, first serve basis as funding is available each fiscal year.
- The rebate application form and receipts must be submitted to Columbia Water and Light within six months of the solar electric system’s installation. Incomplete or incorrect applications will have thirty days to provide the correct information or risk losing their place in the rebate funding process.
- Columbia Water and Light reserves the right to inspect the installed equipment before the rebate is finalized.
- Columbia Water & Light reserves the right to reject a PV system if it does not meet the parameters of the net metering or rebate program
This information taken from proposed Columbia Ordinance - Chapter 27, Section 27-164