Solar power is on the rise in The Sunshine State. Per the Florida Public Service Commission, SECO Energy has the most solar customers of any electric cooperative in the state and almost all municipally owned utilities as well.
As of March 20, a total of 530 SECO Energy members have interconnected solar systems at their homes or businesses. These systems produced 1,789,373 kilowatt hours in 2016, resulting in payments from SECO to these members totaling nearly $140,769.62 last year alone. Over the life of these systems, the cooperative has paid $510,039 to members who produced more electricity with their solar systems than they consumed. Per the PSC, this is the highest payback of any utility in the state.
SECO’s net metering policy provides for the payback for excess solar energy at the company’s “avoided cost.” In essence, members with solar arrays are treated as small-scale wholesale providers. The cooperative pays these members for their excess power at the same rate SECO pays Seminole Electric Cooperative for power produced traditionally from fossil fuels.
CEO Jim Duncan states, “I’ve been pretty vocal over the years in candidly explaining the merits and drawbacks of rooftop residential solar installations. SECO has been successful in supporting members who generate their own power without resorting to rebates or credits that inadvertently create financial burden on other members.”
SECO’s philosophy is that those who choose to invest in solar should bear the long-term costs to receive the benefits. It is clear from the number of members installing solar that people are willing to make the financial investment. The Cooperative encourages members to exercise caution when considering solar. If you have questions or need an unbiased opinion, contact SECO’s Energy Services team for a free assessment. A team member will evaluate whether solar is right for you by examining orientation, roof pitch, usage history and potential payback.
Members are also encouraged to attend the SECO Solar Square demonstration at the March 25th SECO Annual Meeting at 293 South US Highway 301 in Sumterville. The SECO team will display various types of systems and installations, costs, contract requirements, net-metering, billing, and projected generation.
SECO’s own array (the Solar Square) and its online production dashboard will be on display and accessible to members. The solar demo’s house replica displays a bi-directional meter for net metering, an inverter and a photovoltaic module on a simulated rooftop. Members interested in solar energy can use the SECO Solar Estimator to help determine costs and output.
Members who are not interested in investing in their own solar array but want to live a greener lifestyle can enroll in SECO’s new Solar Life program. The member pays a flat $32 monthly fee in exchange for the kilowatt hour output of four panels.
Come out to the SECO Energy pavilion this Saturday, March 25th for free food, fun and fabulous prizes. Gates open at 8 a.m. and the business meeting starts at 10:30 a.m. Prize drawings are held after the business meeting – members must be present to win.