Solar FAQs

Solar FAQs

  • Does solar require batteries?   No, if a building is connected to the electric grid electrical storage in the form of batteries is not necessary.
  • How much does Solar Cost?   There are multiple ways to have solar. The price of a solar system has dropped rapidly in the last 6 years. The electricity from a solar system should be less than electricity from the grid. There are also lease arrangements that can lower an electric bill with no upfront costs.  Here are some additional FAQs focused on solar costs for Montana.  Solar cost explanation MT   Here is another example of a recent project with information on the cost of electricity from the solar panels compared to the cost from the utility. Lent Hollow Powerhouse
  • What is the payback? It varies with the solar site and depends on efficiency and initial net cost.
  • What happens when it snows or rains? Snow slides off and cleans the panels due to warming after a storm. Rain cleans off dust and bird droppings restoring the panel efficiency.
  • Are the panels toxic? Like almost any manufacturing there are some contaminates involved in panel manufacture but the panels are not toxic.   There are almost no contaminates produced per Kw-Hr of electricity generated compared to coal, natural gas or nuclear.
  • What happens when it is cloudy? Panels produce best in bright sunshine, but they still produce some electricity during cloudy periods.
  • What’s a solar lease or solar power-purchase agreement?   In a lease, a customer pays for the solar power system over a period of years, rather than in an up-front payment. Often customers can purchase solar for little or no money down, and often realize energy savings immediately. In a power-purchase agreement, a customer agrees to purchase all the energy from a solar system over a fixed period of time.
  • How does solar work?   PV panels directly produce electricity from sunlight, have no moving parts, and use an inverter to change the direct current (DC) power they produce to usable alternating current (AC) power.
  • What is “Net Metering”? Net metering is an arrangement with the electric utility where the utility credits the customer’s account for excess electricity produced during a billing period. A special bidirectional meter is required to measure both electricity consumed from the grid and electricity shipped to the grid.
  • Why solar and not wind?   Both are renewable energy sources. Currently the cost of solar electricity is less than the cost of wind generated electricity for all but the largest wind turbines.