Planning for a home distributed generation system is a multistep process that begins with talking to your electric cooperative, and requires significant analysis and fact-finding, and then careful evaluation of the information that you learn in the process.
If you are considering investing in and potentially installing a distributed generation system, it’s important that you follow these key steps:
Conduct an energy efficiency audit. Implementing energy efficiency measures in advance of installing a renewable system can save you money by reducing your overall energy or water consumption, which then reduces the size of the system you'll need to meet your energy needs.
Schedule a meeting with Southwest Iowa REC. Contact Tim Pfeiffer, Director of Member Services at Southwest Iowa REC at (888) 220-4869 to start the process. We can help you to understand interconnection requirements and point you in the right direction for credible resources. With any type of distributed generation system, maintaining the safety and reliability of the overall power grid is of the utmost priority. We’ll walk you through a number of preliminary safety precautions that must be considered.
Calculate your energy use and determine overall energy needs. A thorough examination of your electricity needs helps you determine the size of the system you will need, how your energy fluctuates throughout the day and over the year, and energy efficiency measures you can take to reduce your energy use.
Research applicable codes. Each county and community likely has its own set of specific codes and regulations that must be followed in the event you decide to install a distributed energy system.
Contact the Iowa Energy Center. The Iowa Energy Center’s skilled professionals are experts in renewable energy. Once you share some of your preliminary research with them, they can advise you of additional resources; help you to understand the economics of a distributed generation system; help you to determine if a distributed generation system is right for you and what type of renewable energy technology would be best for your property; discuss financing, potential tax incentives and financial incentives; and discuss other requirements such as insurance.
After you complete the above steps, schedule a follow-up meeting with Southwest Iowa REC. Staying engaged with us during all aspects of considering a distributed generation system is critical to the success of your project. As always, please contact a member of the Southwest Iowa REC team at any time to discuss this topic or others with us. We’re here to serve you.
Distributed Generation Checklist (pdf)
Message from the General Manager: Interconnecting Distributed Generation (pdf)
Solar PV Energy Guide (pdf)
Informational Guide for On-site Generation Now Available
If you’re thinking about installing a solar or wind electric generation system for your home or business, we encourage you to take a look at the newly released Informational Guide for On-site Generation, distributed by the Iowa Utilities Board. “This new information guide will help our member-owners walk through a detailed check list of questions and important considerations before financially investing in a system,” says Tim Pfeiffer, Director of Member Services at Southwest Iowa REC.
The guide prompts consumers to consider their energy-related goals, legal requirements, and insurance issues before installing on-site generation. The guide also provides consumers with a list of information to gather and questions to ask during the process.
The guide was compiled from input provided by stakeholders, including Iowa’s electric cooperatives, and is intended to help Iowans make wise choices and to consider all of the legal and financial requirements that are involved with distributed generation. To download a free copy of the Informational Guide for On-site Generation, click here.
As they recommend in the Informational Guide, if your primary goal is to reduce your monthly electric bill, consider an energy audit to uncover potential energy efficient improvements. Southwest Iowa REC provides free energy audits to its Residential members. Implementing energy efficiency before installing a solar or wind system can save you money by reducing your overall energy or water consumption, which subsequently reduces the size of the distributed generation system you'll need to meet your energy needs.
We encourage you to contact Director of Member Services Tim Pfeiffer at (888) 220-4869 firstname.lastname@example.org early on in the process if you’re thinking about installing an on-site generation system, including solar panels or a wind turbine. As a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative, we’re here to help you make informed decisions about how you use energy.
To ensure your own safety and that of your fellow cooperative member-owners, you are required to notify Southwest Iowa REC if you intend to install a distributed generation system and under Iowa law, an interconnection agreement must be in place.
Click the links below for additional information regarding distributed generation.
Distributed Generation: Frequently Asked Questions
Distributed Generation: Myths vs. Facts
Top 10 Considerations Before Installing a Distributed Generation System
Questions to Ask a Prospective Solar PV Vendor