Small System Interconnect Policies
If you are planning to install a renewable energy system, you must contact the cooperative well in advance to coordinate the installation. All forms must be completed and approved by the cooperative, and all fees must be paid, before work begins. For an interconnected system, CCEC will purchase the energy generated at its avoided cost. Interconnected members also have the option to sell the energy to another entity, such as NC GreenPower.
'Green' Energy Credits
If you receive a solicitation to purchase green or renewable energy from an entity other than your cooperative, what is the seller selling? Members have asked questions after being contacted by an out-of-state company marketing “renewable energy.” In reality, the company’s offer is to purchase renewable attributes, sometimes called Renewable Energy Credits or RECs, not actual renewable energy, on your behalf.
CCEC buys energy from many different sources and generators. Currently, 54% of the energy is from zero-emission nuclear generation, 34% from natural gas, 4% from renewables, 3% from market purchases of unknown sources, and only 5% from coal-fired generation. In addition to the renewable energy purchased, the cooperative buys (RECs) sufficient to meet the mandates of the state’s Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard.
RECs are non-tangible energy commodities that represent proof that electricity generated from an eligible renewable energy resource was fed into the electric grid.
The RECs purchased by the cooperative are required to be registered and approved by the NC Utilities Commission. Each REC that is delivered into North Carolina receives a registration number, which is retired in the year it is used to meet the state mandate. This process was developed to ensure RECs are valid and carefully monitored to ensure state laws and the mandate are being met. RECs offered for sale from an out-of-state source may not be registered in NC and could not be used for compliance purposes in our state.
Solicitations that promise green energy need to be carefully considered. One member who reviewed such an offer found that she would have her pay a 14% premium to receive green energy. In truth, she would still receive the same energy she has always received from CCEC. The 14% premium would likely be used to purchase RECs for the company – not the cooperative or any of its members – with no indication where the energy is generated or where the RECs are registered.
To sign up for this offer on the company’s website, the company requests your utility company online login information so they can pay that bill. You, in turn, would receive a consolidated bill consisting of the co-op bill, plus a markup for the renewable energy credits (RECs).
“We support continued development of renewable energy resources, but the cost of those resources for our members has to be balanced with our overarching mission to provide them both reliable and affordable electricity,” said co-op CEO Craig Conrad.
Another way for CCEC members to support renewable energy projects in the state is through NC GreenPower. Headquartered in Raleigh, NC GreenPower connects consumers with green energy and carbon offset providers. Contributions support those efforts, plus education and outreach and a new Solar Schools pilot program. Learn more at www.NCGreenPower.org.
“If you are approached with an offer and would like us to help you understand it, please give us a call,” Conrad said. “We are happy to help you. After all, we are your energy experts.”
Residential-scale Solar PV
If you are considering installing solar panels on your home, here is a guide to help through the process. Residential PV Consumer Considerations
If you are considering installing at wind turbine at your home, here is a guide to help through the process. Residential Wind Power Considerations
Solar Water Heating
We are collecting data to gauge the cost benefits of residential solar water heating systems that two members have had installed at their homes. The data shows savings of 95 to 125 kWh of electricity a month, 780 to 1,500 kWh a year. Solar Water Heating Study
Geothermal Heat Pump
We assessed the effectiveness of a newly installed geothermal heat pump system at a member’s home in 2009. The homeowner saw a 30 percent reduction in his electricity over the previous year.