Rooftop Solar: Is It Right For My Home?

Since the 1940’s, Bowling Green has owned and operated the Electric Distribution and Transmission System in and around the City.  As a public power community, decisions are governed by the local Board of Public Utilities and City Council.

As a member of American Municipal Power (AMP), Bowling Green is one of 135 municipal members who have partnered together to expand our ability to provide a reliable, sustainable, and cost competitive electric system for the benefit of our customers.  This membership has allowed Bowling Green to build renewable energy projects and provide the Efficiency Smart program and the EcoSmart Choice program.

The Bowling Green community has supported these efforts for clean energy and environmental stewardship. In a typical year, every Bowling Green electric customer can expect to receive up to 40% of their electric energy from renewable resources.  As a comparison, 3% of generation in the State of Ohio came from a renewable resource in 2019 and 19% of generation in the United States came from a renewable resource in 2020.  We are committed to the community’s long-term renewable energy goals and providing affordable electricity to our residential, commercial, and industrial customers.

We are equipped to provide guidance regarding rooftop solar considerations.  This page serves as a starting point for Bowling Green electric customers considering whether or not rooftop solar is right for them.

Interconnection Standards – Customer Owned Renewable Generation

Consumer’s Guide to Rooftop Solar

Your Community Provider of Reliable, Sustainable, & Renewable Utilities

Frequently Asked Questions

What renewable energy resources does the City provide to my home?

About 40% of the energy delivered to all Bowling Green customers comes from a renewable resource (wind, solar, or hydro).  As a comparison, 3% of generation in the State of Ohio came from a renewable resource in 2019 and 19% of generation in the United States came from a renewable resource in 2020.  By law, the Board of Public Utilities and the Utilities Department is responsible for serving the electric needs of our entire community.  Since the mid-1990’s, Bowling Green has contracted to purchase energy from multiple generating projects.  Bowling Green has been a leader throughout the region in diversifying the sources of that electricity from traditional generating resources.  When a customer installs rooftop solar, it is possible that the rooftop solar will offset a portion of the City’s renewable energy resources.  A customer’s rooftop solar energy does not alleviate the City’s obligation to purchase energy from other power supply contracts.

Does the City offer options to increase the use of renewable energy for my house?

Yes, the City offers the EcoSmart Choice program to all customers.  The EcoSmart Choice program allows the customer to add an additional charge on their monthly electric bill which is used to purchase Renewable Energy Certificate’s (REC’s).   A REC is created when a renewable energy resource produces energy and the REC is sold into the REC market.  By purchasing REC’s, the customer is directly supporting renewable energy resources.  For more information please see this link.

Are Bowling Green Electric Customers permitted to install rooftop solar?

Yes, but customers must first meet eligibility criteria and review/complete an Interconnection Application, and the subsequent Interconnection Agreement and Certificate of Completion with the City of Bowling Green Utilities Director’s Office.  The Utilities Department may require additional information or clarification to evaluate the Customer Interconnection Request and we encourage customers to read and understand the Interconnection Standards at the link above.

What is the approval process to install rooftop solar?

The first step is for the customer to complete the  Interconnection Application and Interconnection Agreement.  The Utilities Department will analyze the potential impact of the Customer’s Generation Facility on the Electric Distribution System and on other electric customers. Such analysis will be based on prudent utility practice to determine safety measures, voltage ranges, power quality, system stability, impact to the distribution system, etc.

Customers in the City of Bowling Green will also need to complete an Application for Zoning Certificate with the City’s Planning Department.

After the Interconnection Application and Interconnection Agreement have been approved by the Utilities Department, the customer can install the rooftop solar system.  Once the rooftop solar system is installed, the Customer will then submit a Certificate of Completion before energizing the rooftop solar system.  After the Utility has approved the Certificate of Completion, the Customer can energize and “interconnect” the rooftop solar system to the Utilities Electric Distribution System.

Can I sell excess power generated from my rooftop solar panels back to the City?

Yes.  Credit for excess generation, as defined in the Interconnection Standards, from an approved Customer generation facility shall be at the Utility’s avoided power supply cost rate as determined by the Board of Public Utilities.  The credit for excess generation shall be in the form of a monthly credit to the Customer’s utility account. The current rate for the credit can be found in the Electric Rate Schedule – Rider E Renewable Parallel Generation.  The City will typically utilize a bi-directional meter to measure the flow of electricity (kWh) in both directions.  The kWh’s that the customer delivers to the City will be used to calculate the credit.

Will I be able to rely on the City’s electric distribution service if my rooftop solar system is not generating enough power for my needs?

Yes, the City’s electric system will be available to supply a portion or all of a customer’s energy needs at any time of the day.  The City will typically utilize a bi-directional meter to measure the flow of electricity (kWh) in both directions.  The kWh’s that the City delivers to the Customer will be used to calculate the Customers usage and will be billed at the applicable retail rate.

If I install rooftop solar, will my electric rate change?

Yes, customers will still be charged per their current retail rate, however Rider E – Renewable Parallel Generation will also be applicable.   Rider E includes a Monthly Facilities Charge that is based on the kW capacity of the solar (and battery if applicable) installation.

Why does Rider E include an additional charge for rooftop solar customers?

As a public power utility, the City of Bowling Green operates a not-for-profit electric utility.  Most of the Utilities Department’s expenses are fixed costs, meaning the expenses don’t change much based on a customer’s usage.  The City’s electric rates are based on a Cost of Service Study that examines all of the expenses to provide the electrical needs of our community.  The expenses include, but are not limited to, power supply contracts, transmission and capacity obligations, the cost of infrastructure such as electric poles, lines, and transformers, and finally, the cost to ensure our staff and equipment are available and equipped to respond to electrical issues anywhere in the city at a moment’s notice, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.   The rates that are charged to customers are designed for full-service requirement customers (a customer that purchases all of their energy needs from the City).  In this way, the City ensures that our expenses are equitably collected from each customer based on their use of the electric system.  The Cost of Service Study is the best way to ensure that the customer charges are fair and equitable.

When a customer installs rooftop solar, they become a partial-service requirement customer.  This means that the customer does not purchase all of their energy needs from the City because they are offsetting some or all of their energy needs with their own generating system.  The customer relies on the City to provide all of their electric service at any given time but they do not pay the same costs as a full-service requirement customer.  The customer also depends upon the City’s electric distribution system in order to receive a credit for their excess generation.

The Monthly Facilities Charge is necessary to recover the unavoidable fixed expenses mentioned above that are incurred by the City.  Again, these costs include system maintenance, transformers, debt service, capital improvements, power supply, transmission, capacity, buildings, equipment, and labor.  Without this additional charge, non-generating customers subsidize the electric service for generating customers.  Details about the Facilities Charge can be found in Rider E.

Example: A residential customer installs a 5kW customer-owned renewable resource generator in the form of rooftop solar panels.  After July 1, 2021, this resident will be charged a Local Facilities Charge of $5.00 per month ($1/kW x 5kW).  This charge will increase over the next four years, making it easier for current rooftop solar customers to adjust.  At full implementation (in year 2024), the rate will be $4.00/kW AC and the customer would pay $20 per month for the charge.

2021: Example Resident pays $5.00 per month
2022: Example Resident will pay $10.00 per month
2023: Example Resident will pay $15.00 per month
2024: Example Resident will pay $20.00 per month

Can I install a battery with my rooftop solar system?

Yes, a battery system can be installed with a rooftop solar system.  When calculating the Monthly Facilities Charge, the kW size of the battery will be added to the kW size of the generator to get the total kW capacity of the entire system.  This is because the battery system further impacts the City’s cost recovery of unavoidable fixed expenses.

In the previous example, if a customer installed a 2kW battery system with the 5kW rooftop solar generator, the total system capacity would be 7kW and the Monthly Facilities Charge would be ($1/kW * 7kW) = $7 per month in 2021.

Final Thoughts to Consider

Understand how much electricity your home uses by reviewing your monthly and annual kWh usage. The City’s Utility Insight Program is a great resource for this!

Consider energy efficiency upgrades to your home that may offer a quicker rate of return. The City’s Efficiency Smart Program is a great resource for this!

Recognize that purchasing solar panels may have a significant upfront cost and will likely require ongoing maintenance obligations.

Understand the condition of your roof and when you anticipate the need to replace it. Is your roof under warranty and if so, will the installation of solar panels affect the warranty?

For best results, solar panels should be oriented toward the south and free from obstructions. Does your roof allow for this orientation? Is your roof shaded by nearby structures or trees?

Review additional considerations in the Consumer’s Guide to Rooftop Solar

Research solar installers via the Better Business Bureau.

If you have further questions, contact the Utilities Directors office at 419-354-6246 or .